Thursday, January 05, 2006

Rose Bowl & the NFL Draft

Vince Young.  Photo by Mike Blake/ReutersThere's little need in a blow-by-blow recap of last night's Rose Bowl, since pretty much everyone in the country watched it and commented it. Nonetheless, since it was a game for the history books, there are a few things worth talking about. With less than 7 minutes in the 4th quarter and a 12 point lead, the Trojans looked like their ridiculously long winning streak was going to stay intact (they hadn't lost, in fact, since squaring off against some guy named Odysseus). Then Vince happened.

Regardless of what Vince Young does for the rest of his life, his heroics in this game will be what defines him. What a magnificent individual performance--he simply willed his team to victory. He did it through the air and he did it on the ground, running for 200 tough yards against the SoCal defense, stiff arming guys, hurdling, diving, doing whatever it took. Two touchdowns in the final six minutes of the game. He simply was not going to let his team lose.

Meanwhile, the game was a letdown for Young's Heisman-winning opponents. Leinart in fact played a good game, especially in the second half, but I was disappointed with Bush. Although he had a decent game, he was overshadowed by his backup LenDale White's 3 TDs, and Bush certainly didn't make it 100% clear that he should be the #1 pick in the NFL draft, in my opinion. Hell, with less than 4 minutes in the game and USC needing to sustain a drive to hold on the win, Bush--the best player on his team--doesn't even touch the ball once? On a game-deciding 4th and 2, he's on the sidelines? Very disappointing. Bush is a terrific talent who had a great season, but he just didn't seem like a big-game player in the biggest game of his life.

So now that I've opened a can of worms, let's jump right into the NFL draft. The prevailing wisdom suggests that the Texans should take Bush #1. I don't know. The Texans desperately need a QB as well. David Carr, a former #1 himself, has had his career wrecked by starting out with the expansion Texans. He's done playing any meaningful football. Vince Young's outstanding performance, combined with his status as a Texas native, might convince Houston that he is just the facelift and fan favorite the franchise needs. Assuming Houston doesn't trade down, and they well might given their laundry list of needs, Young is the type of mobile quarterback they will need to avoid all the pressure he will be facing (and it will be a lot, no doubt). The Texans can get by with Domanick Davis, a capable running back, or draft a perfectly good one later in the draft--maybe even LenDale White.

Reggie BushI have nothing against Bush, who hails from my old hometown of San Diego and has a much better personality than Young, but I'm just not sure he's going to be the huge-impact player in the NFL that he's projected to be. NFL defenses are a lot faster and stronger than any Bush has run against, and with him being a speed runner as opposed to a power runner, that could cause problems. Splitting carries with White at USC, Bush hasn't really had to be a workhorse before, and his small size could also work against him. This is not to say, of course, that Bush won't be a success. He could in fact be a dazzling one, a player who runs like Tiki Barber has of late, but I think it's a risk and not in Houston's best interest. Especially considering that many very good running backs can be found later in the draft, as is evident by guys like Rudi Johnson, Stephen Davis, Ahman Green, and Terrell Davis.

And of course there's Matt Leinart, last year's golden boy who returned to school for another year and played very well. He's third in stature right now to Bush and Young, but I think of the three he's the least risky pick. A mature, confident pocket passer--this guy would be a great fit for many teams, and I think he will have a good pro career. He'll just wind up going after Bush and Young in the draft.

Bottom line: I'm trying to ignore the hype of Young's great game last night and keep in mind that Bush had a great season, but.... If I were the Texans and had decided to hold on to the #1, I'd be hoping that Young declares for the draft.


Anonymous said...

The Texans cannot afford to draft Bush or Young. They need an offensive line and will definitely trade down for more picks. Watching Young win that game was incredible, and I hate college football. He looks like he or Leinart could be the real deal, but then again so did Ryan Leaf and Heath Shuler. QB is a tough position to call by college stats. Testaverde was a Heisman winner turned out to be a mediocre QB. Brady played behind Henson in Michigan, was a way late pick, but plays an incredible game. I mean how many Heisman winning QBs have been busts.

Houston should not get Bush, Young, or Leinart. Give Carr an O-line and one more year.

I think the team with the most interest to trade up is San Francisco, who could use a dyanmic runner like Bush to make up for that crappy offensive line, while still giving Alex Smith a chance. Though giving somebody from Utah a #1 pick isn't necessarily a smart thing lol.

I do agree with you though that NFL defenses are much faster and stronger. I mean I was laughing at how easily backs get 6 yards a carry in college. Still, the way Bush turned that corner was scary, and with a real offensive line he may be able to do something special. This is because his offensive linemen will not led ends pull off them as easily as they do in college.He could be comparable in style ot Barry Sanders, an undersized speed machine who people swear greased his jersey, or Warrick Dunn, we'll just have to see. He could be a bust. The draft is no guarantee, and you as a Chargers fan and me as a Cowboys fan know that for a fact. We've seen our share of bad drafts. I've seen a few good drafts though I was like 3 years old at the time. Then again when you get 7 picks for Herschel Walker, you basically draft yourself a number of Super Bowls.


Jay said...

I'm in agreement. It would make the most sense for Houston to send away the #1 for a bundle that will also give them a chance to draft D'Brickshaw Whatshisname or another good OL. They should ride out Carr for another year, have a mediocre season, and get the remaining pieces in next year's draft.

My analysis was based on the assumption that Houston holds on to the #1. If they do, I think it's gotta be Young. If they dish it, you're right, SF should make a hard go at Bush. He and Alex Smith were HS teammates, too. It'll be interesting to see what happens.