Monday, May 01, 2006

The Houston Texans and their first round draft pick

Unlike just about everyone else who lives in Houston and has an internet connection (or so it seems, at least), I just can't get myself too riled up about the Houston Texans' decision to use their first round draft pick on North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams, as opposed to USC running back Reggie Bush or Texas quarterback (and hometown favorite) Vince Young.

For one thing, I'm just not a huge fan of the Texans, or of NFL football in general. I am a college football fan first and foremost; for me, pro football runs a distant second in terms of my interest. Yeah, I'll watch the Texans on TV sometimes - I've even been to a couple of their games at Reliant Stadium - and I'll hope they do well. After all, they are the local franchise. But I just don't have my emotions so heavily invested in them that I have strong feelings about who they draft.

However, I did follow the Texans closely enough to know that quarterback and running back just weren't dire needs for this team. The Texans sucked mainly because their defense was poor and their offensive line was abysmal. In 2005, the Texans had the worst offensive line in the nation, by far, in terms of sacks allowed. They also had the second-worst defense in the league in terms of yards per game allowed and were the worst in terms of yards per play allowed. Given those facts, the Texans' decision to use their number one pick on the top defensive player makes sense, even though Reggie Bush might have been the best overall athlete in the draft. The Texans, in fact, spent their first four picks on a defensive end, a linebacker, and two offensive linemen, which cleary indicates what the Texans staff perceives are areas of need.

Finally, the process of drafting college kids into the pros is no different than the process of signing high school kids into college: it is fundamentally a hit-or-miss affair. You never know exactly what you're getting or how well a player is going to develop and perform. Mario Williams could be a total bust in the NFL; he wouldn't be the first top draft pick to disappoint. But there's no guarantee that Reggie Bush will pan out for the Saints, either. So while some of the "experts," such as the Chronicle's Richard Justice or ESPN's Len Pasquarelli, are denouncing the Texans' choice, and others, like MSNBC's Mike Celizic, are praising the move, the fact is that all the fury surrounding the Mario Williams decision is, at this point, little more than speculation. We won't know for sure about Mario Williams until he actually spends time on the field, and until that happens I'm just not putting a great deal of stock into the discussion.

By the way: I agree with's Joe Saraceno: the NFL draft is the biggest and most overhyped "non-event" of the year. I'm glad it's finally over.

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