The Texans' decision to select defensive end Mario Williams (N.C. State) over running back Reggie Bush (USC) is a mistake of epic proportions. That's not to take anything away from Williams. After all, I have Williams ranked as the second-best prospect in what is considered by most to be a comparatively strong draft class in 2006. I think it's fair to say that Williams would have been the clear-cut top prospect last year.
But at the end of the day, the Texans can't possibly believe that Williams is a better talent -- or even an equal -- to Bush. Or can they? If so, it helps explain why this organization has won just 18 games in its four-year existence. It also sheds light on the question of how the Texans managed to win half as many games in Year Four as they did during their expansion season in 2002.
Here's the thing: It makes sense that the Texans could have become tempted during the overly drawn-out process. Williams has a freakish combination of size, speed and athleticism, and he is a perfect fit as a traditional end in the Texans' new 4-3 defensive scheme. Convoluting matters were the financial temptations and the recent off-field issues clouding Bush. Also, if we come to find out that owner Bob McNair simply pulled rank in order to save money and/or to avoid a possible public relations headache, then there's nothing that could be done. However, if the truth is that the leaders of the Texans' personnel department (general manager Charley Casserly) and coaching staff (head coach Gary Kubiak) honestly gave Williams and Bush equal grades, then the ticket-paying fans in Houston deserve far better.
Williams possesses wonderful potential, but he is far from complete at this point. He plays too high at times, and he seems to lack ideal natural football instincts. Williams' inconsistency at the collegiate level also is somewhat alarming -- he notched 13.5 sacks in the final seven games of the 2005 season after recording only one sack in the first five outings.
A special talent like Bush does not come along very often. When blessed with the opportunity to obtain such a franchise-changing talent, passing simply cannot be an option. You pay the extra money, endure the additional hardship and modify existing schemes in order to make it work. You don't pass on Michael Jordan simply because Sam Bowie fits a bigger need -- just ask the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers.
What's done is done. The Saints are now on the clock, and Bush is still on the board. Let's take a look at how the remainder of the top-10 now could play out: