Davis Mills vs. Kyle Trask: Whose draft stock is higher ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft?

At present, five quarterbacks are likely to be drafted in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. However, behind those five, there is a noticeable gap to the “best of the rest.” There are two that are set to battle it out. One, an ultra-productive SEC passer. The other a relative latecomer to the 2021 NFL Draft quarterback party from the Pac-12. Whose draft stock is higher in the Davis Mills vs. Kyle Trask competition?

Record-setting season boosted Kyle Trask’s draft stock in 2020

The transition for Kyle Trask from high school backup to record-setting SEC quarterback is the stuff of fairytales. After starting his freshman season at Manvel High School, Trask sat behind D’Eriq King before spending time on the bench behind Feleipe Franks at the University of Florida.

However, when the opportunity arose, Trask was ready to assume the role of leader in the Florida offense. Throwing for 2,941 passing yards and 25 touchdowns in 2019, Trask grabbed the starting job with both hands and never let go.

He started the 2020 season under center and quickly parlayed the opportunity into becoming one of the most talked-about — and divisive — quarterback prospects in this 2021 NFL Draft class.

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As he began carving up SEC defenses in 2020, Kyle Trask’s draft stock was at an all-time high. Comparisons to Joe Burrow’s Heisman Trophy-winning season for LSU were drawn, with Trask attaining historical production in passing yards and touchdowns. Early in the season, Trask was garnering first-round attention, rapidly appearing on the radar of NFL teams.

In terms of the Davis Mills vs. Kyle Trask comparison, their high school and college careers were on completely opposite arcs.

Davis Mills’ draft stock gains traction late in the process

Whereas Trask had been an under-recruited high school prospect, Davis Mills was a high school standout. The number one pro-style quarterback in the 2017 class, Mills was a highly courted five-star recruit. The three-time state champion received multiple offers but fell in love with Stanford.

His high school production wouldn’t instantly translate to the college stage, however. Mills redshirted in 2017. As a redshirt freshman, he saw just one game of action in 2018. Even in 2019, he started the season as the backup to K.J. Costello.

On a similar tangent for the first time in their careers, Mills grasped the opportunity to start at Stanford as Trask was displacing Franks in Florida. However, the similarities would end there.

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Although Mills would make the starting gig his own, the numbers weren’t remotely comparable. In 2019, Mills would end the season with 1,960 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. In the shortened 2020 Pac-12 season, he threw for 1,504 passing yards, 7 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Additionally, Mills flashed some playmaking ability with his legs to rush for three scores.

Mills’ passing statistics don’t immediately speak to a productive pocket passer. However, it’s worth noting that he set records of his own in 2020. Mills smashed the single-game school record for passing yards with a 504-yard day against Washington State. Impressively, it was a record that had stood for 20 years.

Davis Mills vs. Kyle Trask — whose draft stock is higher?

When you consider their college production, Davis Mills vs. Kyle Trask is neither a comparison nor competition that should exist. However, NFL teams don’t base their decisions on statistics alone. If they did, Anthony Gordon and Gardner Minshew would both have been first-round NFL Draft picks! There’s a reason that they weren’t.

In fact, like most of their football journeys to date, Kyle Trask and Davis Mills’ draft stocks are on a different arc. Trask has very much fallen out of favor. Meanwhile, Mills has emerged as the probable contender for best of the rest.

How, and why, has Mills vs. Trask swung towards the former Stanford signal-caller?

Firstly, there are severe limitations with Trask’s game as it pertains to the NFL

The biggest issue with Trask’s game is his arm. Although the statistics are gaudy, there is no evidence on tape that Trask is able to drive the ball down the field.

Despite both players being quintessential pocket passers, Trask lacks the arm strength to sit in the pocket and make throws deep down the field. He has relied on short-to-intermediate range accuracy and yards after the catch from his playmakers.

This is the first area where the former Florida player falls down in the Davis Mills vs. Kyle Trask comparison. Following a recent pro-day-style workout at the University of South Alabama campus, Pro Football Network’s NFL Draft Lead Analyst and NFL Insider Tony Pauline commended Mills on — amongst other things — his arm strength.

“He’s a big, strapping kid. He’s got an NFL arm. He can spin that ball. He threw tight spirals, he threw passes that had great speed. The deep passes he delivered with great speed. He was very accurate for the most part. Of the 90 passes he threw, I counted only three or four that were outside of the pass-catching radius of the receivers he was throwing to.”

The second major limitation of Trask’s game that could be detrimental to his draft stock is his athleticism

As the modern game at the NFL level requires a quarterback to extend plays with his legs, there is no evidence that Trask can do that. All too often, Trask will succumb to pressure. This was particularly noticeable late in the season.

Now, as far as the Davis Mills vs. Kyle Trask comparison is concerned, Mills isn’t necessarily much better. However, he went to great lengths at his recent workout to show that he can make throws off-script when need be. In the recent episode of NFL Draft Insiders, Pauline elaborated on what he’d seen in that regard from Mills:

“He did some exercises where it was like he was eluding the rusher, where he did a 180-degree turn, set his feet, and threw the ball. I think Davis Mills proved that from a physical point of view, he deserves to be one of the better quarterbacks in this year’s draft.”

So much of the draft process is about opportunity, especially in this most disrupted of years

While Davis Mills was improving his draft stock with a workout, Kyle Trask was missing out on his. Pauline has previously referenced the Senior Bowl as a “kingmaker,” and while Mac Jones was using the event to reinforce his draft stock, Trask was forced to pull out with an injury.

As Trask continues to fall down mock draft boards, Mills has begun to emerge in them. He might not be a finished product — no college prospect is, not even Trevor Lawrence — but there are tools there to work with that you feel gives him the advantage in the Davis Mills vs. Kyle Trask competition for the “best of the rest.”

“Some team is going to fall in love with him because he seems like a coachable guy,” Pauline concluded. “He’s got great upside. He’s someone, who if he’s coached correctly and someone develops him and develops those tools, I think you could have a really good, next-level quarterback on your hands with Davis Mills.”

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Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and NFL analytics contributor for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.