For General Manager Nick Caserio, age is just a number, at least when it comes to NFL experience at the quarterback position.
At age 23, QB Davis Mills is the youngest in the Houston Texans quarterback room which currently consists of Kyle Allen (23), Kevin Hogan (29) and QB-TE hybrid Jeff Driskel (29). However, Mills enters the 2022 season with nearly a full season of NFL experience, 13 games with 11 starts with the Texans.
"I would say just specific to Davis because he has the most experience in that group, I think he learned a lot with just the opportunity to play," Caserio said at the Texans Charity Golf Classic on May 9. "I would say that's the one position you really can't get better until you play. Sometimes that position you could go 2 to 3 years before actually even playing. And there's been plenty of situations where we didn't know what a quarterback was capable of doing."
Caserio gives the example of Matt Cassel who served as Tom Brady's backup. A seventh-round draft pick, Cassel spent three seasons with the New England Patriots (2005-2007) before Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1 of the 2008 season.
"We almost moved on from Cassel and training camp because he didn't play very well," Caserio said. "So until they actually get on the field and perform, I would say fast forward to what Davis went through, went through a lot. I'd say he dealt with some adversity, whether it was in training camp, whether it's in the preseason and you got to the regular season and there was a gap there, you kind of take a deep breath and he came back on the field. Offensive football is a collective effort and the quarterback relies on everybody else around him and vice versa. So I'd say he's certainly made some progress."
Caserio is optimistic about the Year 1 to Year 2 leap that most players make. Mills will have a new offensive coordinator in Pep Hamilton, who worked with the rookie as the Texans passing game coordinator and QB coach last season. The Texans signed Allen and Hogan as free agents this offseason and re-signed Driskel. Allen brings four years of experience, appearing in 21 games with 17 starts with the Carolina Panthers (2018-19) and Washington Commanders (2020-21). Hogan reunites with Hamilton, his former OC and QBs coach at Stanford.
"The rest of the group, Kyle has a lot of experience," Caserio said. "He started X number of games, so he's played a lot of football. Jeff, I'd say, is kind of a unique player for that position, but he's played a lot. And then we signed Kevin last week, who has some experience, has some experience with Pep in his offense. So I'd say an experienced, smart group that has some degree of familiarity with our offense. The performance will dictate ultimately how big the role is for whomever those players are in the position."