I want to talk a bit about what other teams may do in the draft rather than the Falcons. First and foremost, I want to talk about the Houston Texans with their No. 1 selection.
Now, despite all the talk that has happened over the past two weeks, I still believe Reggie Bush will be the Texans No. 1 pick. I believe like others that most of this Mario Williams stuff is a matter of gaining some leverage on Bush in terms of contract negotiations. We see it practically ever year. A guy is considered the consensus No. 1 pick for most of the off-season, but close to draft time, his stock drops a bit and they start considering other players.
So I would guess there is a 90% chance that Bush is the Texans top selection this year. But in that slim margin that he is not their guy, I think that team is making a huge mistake. Frankly, I don’t see all the greatness in Mario Williams. To me he’s a 6-7, 290-300 pound defensive end. And as far as I know, there has only been one pass rusher that was ever considered an elite guy that weighed that much. And that was Reggie White.
In my mind, it comes down to a matter of who do you take: The Running back that compares well to Barry Sanders or the defensive end that people are hyping into a Reggie White? Williams is no Reggie White. I’m not sure Bush will be as good as Barry is, but the comparisons aren’t too far off. The player that Williams is most overtly compared with is Julius Peppers. Williams is an excellent athlete, but he’s not in the same class as Peppers. Peppers could be playing in the NBA right now. Peppers at 285 pounds, moves like a 230-pound linebacker. Peppers is the only athlete in the NFL that can outshine Michael Vick when they share the same field. Williams is not in the same realm.
The biggest knock on Williams is that he takes plays off. Well, when you weigh 300 pounds, that only becomes a bigger factor. If you want to be an elite pass rusher, the type of guy that can rack up 10 or more sacks on a consistent basis, you can’t be that big. Peppers and Shaun Ellis are the max I think you can be and achieve at that level, and both are in the low 280s. Some might point to Richard Seymour as an exception to my rule, but I would counter with the fact that Seymour is not a defensive end. Any player that plays DE in a traditional 3-4 is more akin to a 4-3 DT than a DE. Seymour has had success in the NFL because when he entered the league he was a DT versatile enough to play DE, not the other way around. I have seen little and heard little about Williams’ ability to project to the DT position. But if he continues to put on weight like I’m hearing he is (bulking up to possibly as much as 310 pounds), then that’s all he’ll ever be in the NFL: a bust as a DE that eventually becomes a decent player at DT.
Frankly, if my opinion mattered and the Houston Texans were listening, they would be absolutely stupid to not take Reggie Bush. Frankly, it makes no sense to me. If there was a few players in this draft that they should be thinking about taking over Bush, it should not be Mario Williams, but rather Vince Young, Leinart, and D’Brickashaw Ferguson. If you ask me, Williams is at best the fourth best prospect in this draft. But if it were me, I’d probably put LenDale White, A.J. Hawk, and possibly Bunkley and Vernon Davis ahead of him.
I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that the Texans took Carr No. 1 in 2002 and Peppers went No. 2 that same year. In retrospect it seems pretty clear who was the better player. Had I been able to voice my opinions to them then, I would have said take Peppers. And because I was right, I feel I am responsible once again to guide the Texans down the right path.