Monday, November 24, 2008

Oddly, Chris Simms Gets the Final Word on the 2006 NFL Draft

"The dumber people think you are, the more surprised they're going to be when you kill them." - William Clayton

Somewhere in the catacombs of the National Football League Network, Charley Casserly must be thinking just that because of Chris Simms. Sounds crazy, right? But, on Sunday morning, someone on one of the pregame shows (probably all of them) said that the Tennessee Titans are interested in signing Kerry Collins to a new contract.

No big surprise there.

The real shocker is that they plan to pursue Chris Simms as his primary back-up.

Not really the vote of confidence Vince Young needed.

I'm not part of the growing tide that has written VY off. In fact, I think Kristin Hamlin did a fine job of imagining what must be going through his mind at moments such as these. I very much believe that a leader and winner of his caliber will always be a leader and winner. Obviously not every minute of every day of his life, but he will pick himself off the ground.

Vince Young will ride again.

Just not in Houston.

And that means he was a waste of the number three pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.

Young came out of the gates fast, but that is not the reason you draft a player third overall. You draft that player and pay him the necessary money because he is supposed to be the cornerstone. The block that locks the organization together and gives it strength for posterity (or at least that player's prime years).

You do not draft him for two years of excellence and a cloud of dust.

Shift focus to Reggie Bush.

He has been good, but not great. And the injury bug bit him this year. As I understand it, that was one of his primary detractions - his slighter size made some appraisers question whether he would be durable enough to survive the leviathans who troll the NFL waters.

In other words, the New Orleans Saints might need a little divine intervention to get Reggie back on the field and keep him there.

Even if this injury is not a sign of unfortunate things to come for Bush, he has proven to be mediocre out of the backfield while averaging about 3.5 yards per carry for his career. His true and considerable value seems to be as a receiving back a la a more one-dimensional yet more elusive Marshall Faulk. In that role, Reggie gets the ball with a little more open space in which to razzle and dazzle.

And he may eventually turn into a formidable weapon via the hand-off.

But, once again, that is not why you spend the number two pick and the number two money on a kid out of college.

You're not searching for formidable weapons or a two-year sugar rush. You are searching for That Guy who will turn your franchise around almost immediately. Not necessarily turn it into a contender, but certainly lead a change in direction. You are looking for that special talent because your franchise must usually be in sorry shape to have such a high pick. And there are usually two or three of them in each draft-class.

Admittedly, I don't know enough about the intricacies of football to recognize these players unless they're on offense. So I don't know if Mario Williams is this kind of player.

I do know that 14.5 sacks is pretty good.

I do know that the Texans have gotten better. Granted, there weren't too many other options.

I also know that, while both the Saints and Titans have improved exponentially by comparison, it was neither Reggie Bush nor Vince Young who led the way. And it doesn't seem likely that either player will be doing so for the organization that drafted him.

And that makes them disappointments because of the high expectations that accompany the second and third overall picks, respectively.

Most importantly though, I know how much heat Casserly and the Texans took for drafting Mario Williams over the obvious jackpots represented by Reggie Bush and Vince Young.

I mean, Young played for the University of Texas!

There seems to be a consensus that Bill Simmons even used it as an excuse to create a default column topic for those days when he couldn't find an excuse to write about Boston. Said it proved professional franchises need a Vice President of Common Sense and periodically writes as if he is that person.

Because Casserly and the Texans so blatantly blew the easy money.

And Simmons was by no means alone in his condemnation. Nor was his group in the minority. Had I been more delusional in my knowledge of football, I might have been right there in the firing line.

Charley argued the Texans were not passing on a sure thing, let alone two. They were taking the player who could best help them, immediately and for years to come. The best professional talent they saw in the draft.

And Chris Simms proves - once, emphatically, and for all - that Casserly was right and we were wrong.

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