“I know the key to being successful in this league is to put together a great team, a team that can go out and compete every week and be sound across the board. We made the decision that this young man is one of the pieces, along with all the other pieces we tried to add throughout free agency. We have to build a solid football team.”
– Gary Kubiak on No. 1 pick Mario Williams.
NEW YORK. — They passed on the exciting quarterback Vince Young. They passed on Heisman Trophy dynamo Reggie Bush. Even though last weekend’s NFL Draft has been over for days, it’s probably safe to say that the Houston Texans are still on the clock.
In truth, when the Houston brain trust decided to make North Carolina State’s Mario Williiams the No. 1 pick in this year’s NFL Draft in the Big Apple, they may have elicited more immediate questions than future answers.
While no one doubts the true talents of the N.C. State standout who left Raleigh after his junior season. The Wolfpack’s team MVP set school season records with 14.5 sacks and 27.5 stops for losses in 2005.
He posted 62 tackles (32 solos) with 23 pressures, a fumble recovery and two forced fumbles. He also deflected five passes, blocked a kick and recorded a safety in 36 contests.
Good numbers no doubt, but unfortunately they’ll all be forgotten if the aforementioned Bush (drafted second by New Orleans) and or Young (drafted third by Tennessee) make an instant impact faster than Williams.
After being picked, Williams showed that he’s ready for the comparisons and the challenges of being the top pick. “You can never ever worry about making mistakes or things like that”, Williams added.
“I’m going to go out and play ball and that’s what I do. Obviously I’m going to make mistakes, I’m a rookie, but how I react to those mistakes and how I address those mistakes, that will make me the player I want to be.”
After a week of controversies involving his parents, contact negotiations, and an alleged sports agent, Bush, the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner, found himself set to join the New Orleans Saints.
While disappointed about not being the top pick, Bush did try to put a positive spin on the days leading up to the draft. “I’m not going to take anything personal from the Houston Texans and go out and try to run for 5,000 yards or whatever in a game,” Bush said.
“That’s the way it is, that’s the nature of the beast and it’s part of the game. I’m just happy, like I said, to me, this is a special time for us. The past few days really didn’t show anything more than I already knew. Just stay focused, don’t let distractions get you out of your focus and just enjoy this.”
Texans owner Bob McNair said that the home controversy involving Bush and his family had no bearing on Houston’s decision to tab Williams as the top pick. “We’re concerned about it for Reggie, because I hope it doesn’t cause him any problems, but it didn’t enter into our decision”, McNair added.
“We made the same offer to both of them, and we could have signed either one of them. That was really not an issue. The issue was, I say it’s extremely important that these young players be in camp and be with a team early on.”
“I wanted to make sure that we didn’t run the risk of a holdout, and that’s why I wanted to see if we could reach an agreement with the players before the draft and we were able to do that.”
THE YOUNG TITAN
Back in 1995, the then Houston Oilers made Steve “Air” McNair the third pick overall that season. A little over 10 years later, the former Houston franchise would make another signal caller their top choice.
Young, who was passed over by his hometown Texans, was the first quarterback chosen this weekend. The former Longhorn standout has seen his stock rise up and down since defeating USC and winning the National Championship in January. Through it all, Young kept his confidence and saw it rewarded on Saturday.
“I really didn’t feel that my stock fell”, said Young. “That’s just what the media said. Just talking to the coaches, they didn’t really feed into that, that was just crazy, rumors.”
“It (being drafted by the Titans) feels very good. It’s not all about the pick. It’s what the team needs. I just want to show the world that I’m going to take it to the next level.”
Young also acknowledged his respect with the man he may replace. At press time, it appears the Titans are set to either release or trade their incumbent starter Steve McNair.
“Our relationship has been real good ever since, obviously, a sophomore in high school,” Young added. “He’s been like my father, uncle, and a friend. He’s a real good guy.”
NOTE: The Houston Chronicle contributed to this article.