Complicating The Top Of The Draft

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - January 11, 2006
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Do we need to start rethinking our pick for the Heisman? Seriously. After Vince Young’s performance against USC in the Rose Bowl, are you wondering if, in fact, maybe Young was the best player in the country? An interesting argument. However, Reggie Bush was this year’s standout player and just as the USC tailback wrapped up the award with his 513 yards against Fresno State, Young’s 467-yard effort has solidified his place at, or near, the top of NFL draft boards. And make no mistake about it, he has to come out. His market value will never be higher.

Prior to last week’s monster game, Matt Leinart was the consensus No. 1 pick at the quarterback position. No mystery there. He’s smart, accurate, strong and the unquestioned leader on a team full of stars. But now things have gotten complicated.

For the owners of the first pick in the draft, the Houston Texans, the question once seemed rather easy. It makes no sense bringing in a new QB if the guy is going to continue the Texan tradition of spending half the season on his back. Reggie Bush would help take pressure off David Carr as teams would have to account for his multitude of skills and could not simply go on the attack. And unless they were planning on trading down to address the teams many, many needs - something they should do - Bush was their man. But after what we just witnessed, can Houston withstand the wrath of the fans and ignore the great marketing value of bringing in the hometown hero?

The Texans signal caller is special. He’s a big man with big talent who does not come unglued when pressure is applied. In fact, he thrives on it with a level of calm that belies his age and experience. A year ago in the same stadium Young went for 372 yards and five touchdowns in a down-to-the-wire game vs. Michigan. Against USC, the one-time or two-time defending champ - depending on what side of the whole AP/BCS mess you subscribe to - Young was even better. So what’s a team to do?

Making the PR move rarely works. Draft picks are business decisions not popularity contests. Which means Houston needs to stick with Bush or shop the pick around in the hope of actually fielding a more complete team. Either way New Orleans and Tennessee will be watching closely. Both teams may even be tempted to move up a spot or two to ensure the player they want.

The no-home Saints, with the second pick, have parted ways with Aaron Brooks and are in desperate need of a quarterback. Tennessee, No. 3, needs to find someone solid to take over at running back, but would not pass up the chance to reunite Leinart with his former USC mentor, Norm Chow.

An interesting turn of events could see the Titans move to No. 1 to grab either Bush or Leinart, while Houston drops down to pick badly needed Oline help in Virginia tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson. San Diego could also screw things up by finally moving either Drew Brees or Philip Rivers. Neither would bring in a top three pick, but they could make things interesting for teams out of the Bush/Leinart/Young race like Oakland, Buffalo and Detroit.

DeAngelo Williams and LenDale White will make those teams missing out on Bush happy, while Jay Cutler would be a nice secondary pick at quarterback.

But after all is said and done, the question remains. What becomes of Vince Young? On the positive side you can never have too much athletic talent on the football field. The problem is that the NFL is a talent league. Everybody has it. At 6-feet-5-inches tall and weighing in at 233 pounds, Young is a bigger, stronger version of Michael Vick with less arm strength.

Young’s talent and poise in big games just cannot be ignored. That’s more than enough for most teams and means the Jets at No. 4 are out of luck.

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