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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Apologist? No. Realist? Yes.

Tim and I seem to agree on most things with regard to the Texans' first round pick. We agree that the Texans blew it by choosing David Carr over Vince Young, though we are both hopeful that new additions to the O-Line and receiving corps will allow Carr to develop into the QB that many projected upon his selection four years ago. We agree that the Mario Williams pick was the correct pick from a football perspective. The Texans' "need" at running back was clearly nowhere near as desperate as the need for a pass-rusher on the defensive line, especially considering Kubes' history of obtaining above-average production from lesser-known players at that position. Combine the "need" factor, Kubiak's impressive history, Domanick Davis' presence and Bush's apparent contractual demands, and I believe that under the circumstances (and excluding Vince Young as a possibility), Mario Williams was absolutely the proper pick. So now that we've set the stage, let's tackle the argument that Tim poses, which is that the Texans botched the pick by selecting Williams #1 rather than trading down to #2.

If you're the Texans and you've decided that Mario Williams is your pick, then you know that you will most likely have to own one of the first two picks in the draft in order to assure that you will be able to get your man. Virtually every pundit pontificating prior to the draft listed Williams as one of the top two overall players (with Bush) and the number one overall defensive prospect. Even if you thought you could get Mario at #3, the Titans knew that they were going to be able to get either Vince Young or Matt Leinart at #3, so they had no reason to give up picks to move up. If Houston traded down to #4 as many had dreamed possible prior to the draft (yours truly included), then the odds that you would be able to get Super Mario seem awfully slim. As such, the Texans' only chance to obtain the best of both worlds (add a pick via trade and still get Mario) was to swap spots with New Orleans.

For argument's sake, I will agree that it seems that the Texans could have held out until the very last moment in hopes that the Saints would make a last-minute trade offer worth accepting. However, neogtiations had been theoretically possible for months and had produced nothing, and from a PR perspective, the Texans understandably did not want to be perceived as deceiving their fan base by proceeding under the perception that Bush was going to be their pick, only to then stun their trusting fanbase at 12:15 Eastern on Saturday by ripping the proverbial rug out and selecting Mario. Instead, they hoped that signing Mario on Friday night would be a sign of confidence to their fans that they were taking the man that the organization wanted most.

Here's how I think the negotiations played out. Friday night, the Texans called the Saints and said, "We're not taking Bush, but we're entertaining offers from other teams for the #1 pick. Do you have any interest?" The Saints' answer was, "No thanks. You've already proclaimed that you're going to draft either Mario or Reggie, so if you don't take Reggie, you must want Mario, and we know that you won't be trading down below #2 because you won't be able to get Mario below #2. Therefore, we'll hold out with the knowledge that we'll either be able to draft Bush #2 or dangle the chance to draft Bush in the eyes of the Jets and Niners, both of whom will certainly be interested."

If the Saints thought that the Texans were going to draft Reggie Bush, then they appeared comfortable drafting either D'Brickashaw Ferguson or Mario Williams at #2 or dealing the #2 pick to a team looking for a QB, enabling them to add picks. If the Saints thought that the Texans were not going to draft Bush, then they become able to choose between drafting Bush or dangling Bush's talents in front of New York and San Francisco. Under either scenario, it would be completely illogical for the Saints to consider giving up picks to the Texans, as appreciated as it would have been to us Texans fans. They stood to make out very well no matter what the Texans did, and that's why the Texans' only option was to take Williams #1.


Blogger Tim said...

Nice post. That said, I think you're giving way too much credit to Texans management. If they even had an inkling that Bush wasn't going to be the guy (and by all accounts they had thought that for awhile, what with the VY and Mario considerations), they should have aggressively pursued trade talks long before the night before the draft. Personally, I think Bush was the guy until Thursday night. This stance is supported by the telling fact that Mario's agent didn't even submit a counterproposal to Casserly until then; he was sure that his client was simply being used as leverage and had no chance of actually being picked first overall. Frankly, I think Bush's contract demands were so ridiculous that management did not believe resolution was possible before the draft. Instead of getting past that unpleasantness, they hastily shifted gears and moved to Plan B. Mario, ecstatic over the opportunity not to play in Nawleans, quickly fell into line.

I don't think instilling confidence in the fan base was ever a consideration. McNair & Co. knew they'd have egg all over their faces if they took anyone but VY or Bush; no amount of confidence would have been instilled in the mob even if they had tumbled to the conclusion that Mario was the best choice months ago. Failing to pick Vince or Reggie would not (and will not) be accepted by the fan base any time in the immediate future. In sum, I think the Texans were completely unprepared for the possibility that they might not be able to get a deal done with Bush before the draft. When that became reality, they panicked and reacted. Had they exercised even a moderate amount of foresight, this could have been avoided.

Wed May 03, 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Ted Bosquez said...

I hate to say it, but I have to agree with Tim. The No. 1 pick and the prospect of securing Reggie Bush should have translated into rather tantalizing bait to secure additional picks in this or next year's draft.

The Jets had the picks to bargain with and would the fans of Houston been any more or less upset if the Texans had not secured Williams, but taken D'Brick. The same sense of outrage for not taking Bush or Young would have remained, but the thought of an additional pick or two and adding an elite talent to the the offensive line might have been easier to swallow.

For the first pick (value 3000), the Texans could have secured the Jets No. 4 (1800) and No. 29 (640) and No. 49 (410).

The Jets were very interested in Reggie Bush and marketing advantage of Bush in NYC could have been quite enticing.

Texans fans would then have to look at the draft and say:

Mario Williams


Mangold (OC) or Kiwunaka (DE)
And, for example, Youboty (CB) at 49

The revisionist draft would look like:

D'Brick (OT)
Kiwunaka (DE)
Ryans (OLB)
Youboty (CB)
Spencer (OG)
Winston (OT)
Daniels (TE)
Lundy (RB)
Anderson (WR)

Talk about upgrading the offensive line to finally protect Carr and keep Davis healthy. Upgrade the defense at OLB, DE, and CB compared to DE and OLB exclusively.

That looks like a pretty darn nice draft and a win-win for the Jets and Texans - Jets get Reggie in NYC and Texans massively upgrade OL and defense without hedging all their bets exclusively on Workout Williams.

Wed May 03, 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

I just threw up on my keyboard after seeing Ted's revisionist Texans draft. A franchise LT and a skilled DB? Who needs that?

Wed May 03, 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

If the Texans were offered that deal and passed it up, then they are destined to be a terrible franchise. I can't imagine that they did, though, especially now that hindsight indicates that they were not afraid to tick off their fanbase by passing on Vince AND Reggie in favor of a 'better fit'. Ted's scenario would have clearly caused less of a PR nightmare than Mario because (a) you're not using the #1 pick on someone other than the two most dynamic skill position players in the draft, (b) you're adding a number of first-day picks and (c) the O-line was a well-publicized area of need. Logically, there's no way the Texans would have taken the path they did if Ted's alternative was available, which is basically what I've been saying.

Wed May 03, 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Ted Bosquez said...

I still don't think it was an issue of not having opportunities to turn the No. 1 pick into multiple picks.

The Sporting News just released an article and if one believes what they wrote (a leap of faith to be sure) then it sounds like they, come hell or highwater, were going to take Williams or Bush and were not interested in trades that left them with more picks at the expense of being unable to secure one or the other.


The Jets or any other team might have offered or been convinced to offer very attractive deals, but Texans management seemed dead set on one set of options closing their minds to other options.

I think, if anything, they so narrowed their viewpoint on acceptable scenarios as to essentially make it impossible for other teams not New Orleans to offer them what could be more all around beneficial deals for the team.

Perhaps the 2006 Draft for Houston reflects a lesson on being too wedded to any individual player at the expense of being open or able to aggressively seek other potentially more valuable alternatives.

Just a thought...

Wed May 03, 05:16:00 PM  

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