Houston Texans could look to use high draft pick on DE if Davis Mills thrives down stretch, sources say

Rookie quarterback Davis Mills' performance for the remainder of the season figures to influence how the Houston Texans will handle their offseason.

If the Texans end up with a top-three pick in next year's NFL draft, they could lock into selecting a defensive end such as Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson or Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux if Mills plays well over the final five games of 2021, league sources told ESPN.

But if Mills struggles, the Texans will have to consider using a high draft pick on a quarterback -- and they could also acquire one in the event that they trade Deshaun Watson.

Houston's decision to name Mills as the starter for the remainder of the season is consistent with the message delivered this past week by general manager Nick Caserio, who said the Texans will evaluate everyone during the offseason, including coach David Culley.

Mills replaced Tyrod Taylor, who was benched during last Sunday's shutout loss to the Indianapolis Colts. The 11-year veteran is set to be a free agent this offseason and has struggled since returning from injured reserve last month, throwing five interceptions and taking 12 sacks in four games.

Mills, a third-round pick this year, made his seventh start of the season Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks and completed 33 of 49 pass attempts for 331 yards and a touchdown in the Texans' 33-13 loss. The Texans also lost the six previous games that Mills started earlier this season, but Culley said Friday that the rookie "gives us the best chance to win."

The Texans (2-11) are tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) for the NFL's second-worst record, behind only the Detroit Lions (1-10-1).