Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

10 Jan 2006

Bush or Young?

FOX wanted an article on whether Houston should take Vince Young with the first overall pick. FO just happens to have a staffer who hails from Houston and is a Texans fan, and goes to The University of Texas and is a Longhorns fan.

Posted by: Tim Gerheim on 10 Jan 2006

55 comments, Last at 11 Jan 2006, 7:55pm by Michael David Smith

Comments

1
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 5:02am

I'm surprised that a FO author wrote an article about the Texans without strongly recommending that they just trade down for a king's ransom in picks and load up on offensive linemen. Not that the article was bad (because it wasn't), it's just that it seems awfully similar to the majority of articles being written on the subject.

To quibble a little bit with the Denver references... this is actually the first season in Mike Shanahan's tenure where two RBs have split the load during games. In previous seasons, he always had one RB getting the strong majority of carries until he was injured, and then another RB getting the strong majority until HE was injured.

Second, Mike Anderson didn't play FB in 2004. He played FB in 2002 and 2003, then switched back to RB in 2004 (and had won the starting RB job), but got injured during the preseason and sat out the entire season. Not to be anal or anything.

2
by masocc (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 5:26am

I've been saying this for YEARS. For the love of jeebus, somebody better start playing TWO QBs. The Steelers have shown (recently!) how well this could work. Teach David Carr (he's a reasonable big boy, and let's just say he's proven he can take a hit :) ) to block, and there'd be no drawback.

3
by Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Person (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 5:30am

Regardless of how the carries are split up, Denver still does "take advantage" of more than one skiled RB per season. And FO doesn't track the unconventional numbers for college football, so I wouldn't expect the same kind of insight that they have for the NFL. Though Aaron seems to be the only one completely obsessed with the numbers, everybody else just uses them as a learning tool to guide their subjective opinions. Props to all of them!

4
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 6:04am

Good article. Nice overall analysis, and a great breakdown of risk vs. reward, especially at the overall #1 pick.

The Steelers have shown that they can do two QBs and do well? It wasn't until Ben came along that they started to really excel, and before that...what, the two-headed monster of Maddox and Stewart? Come on.

5
by joe football (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 6:09am

I think the poster meant using Randle-El/Ward in gimmick plays.

It's funny, fans almost always want their teams to trade down, but it's much more difficult to find a fan who wants his team to trade up. I suspect many teams in the top-5 would love to trade down every year but can't find reasonable offers.

6
by tim (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 6:33am

concerning reggie bush's touchdown run late in the rose bowl, how fast was he going? i remember him leaping from about the 5 yeard line to about 5 yards deep in the endzone, so what kind of speed do you need for that amount of momentum?

7
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 6:45am

Re #5: Funny, I feel like the casual fan takes the exact OPPOSITE stance. They might have heard of the names of a few college phenoms (Bush, Young, Leinart), and want their teams to trade up to get them, because they've been hyped up to "guaranteed success, instant savior" proportions. I've never heard a casual fan make a case that his team should trade down. Not once.

8
by Smeghead (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 10:00am

#7: I think you're generally right, but I've heard that plenty. e.g.: "If Seattle wanted Lofa Tatupu, fine, but they could have picked up up later. They should have traded down to the third round and added an extra pick." Probably more common complaint from the mid-first round through the end of the first day. And the draft is such a circus now that everyone and his dog has an opinion about it, and occasionally they can even be founded on actual information.

I don't want to sound like some market fundamentalist (I'm not, really) but it seems to me that if offers to move up don't seem to be "reasonable," perhaps that means teams holding high picks attach an unreasonably high value to them. They do come with the downside of huge cap damage and intense fan scrutiny, after all. If the 49ers had it to do over again, they might have done better to swap #1 for #10 straight-up. (not to say that's necessarily the case this year, etc., etc. I don't know nothin'.)

9
by Sam B (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 10:21am

#7 I think you're underestimating the 'casual fan', unless we have a different definition.

From what I can tell from reading non-FO football messageboards, it's pretty much recieved wisdom that if you're at the top of the draft you're usually so bad that you need to trade down.

I think plenty of fans of teams in the mid to low range of the draft would like their team to trade up this year because they know that VY/RB/ML will make the difference for them.

10
by Harris (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 10:34am

#4 The Steelers went to the Super Bowl playing Neil O'Donnell and Kordell Stewart.

11
by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 10:53am

The NFL should change the way the draft works. Add a few picks to the first round (say 3, for example). Put them somewhere in the late first round, and pair them off with earlier picks. Then, give the worst team the choice of drafting #1 or (#4 and #21), then give the next worst team the choice of the one that team didn't pick or #2 or (#6 and #23) (depending what the first team chose), and so on until all the paired picks have been chosen (then continue as normal). It gives bad teams a way to get extra picks without having to find a trade partner willing to give up a lot, and adds another layer of debate/strategy.

This year, the Texans would get Bush or D'Brickashaw and a mid to late first-rounder, and could then try to parlay those picks into still more picks or players if they wanted.

I would go on, but I am out of parentheses.

12
by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 10:54am

#10

Which one of them was the quarterback?

13
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 11:02am

The Texans already have a good QB and good RB. Trade down and draft some people who can block so that David Carr lives to see his 30th birthday.

14
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 11:21am

I think the problem is that any fan of a team with a mid-range pick will almost always believe that their pick could have been taken later. Hence the "Trade down and get him in the next round" philosophy.

However, when you're at the top of the draft, there are other issues at stake. Fans generally don't look to the #17 pick as being a savior of a franchise. But many (but not all) fans do look at a #1 or #2 pick that way.

Thus, it's very hard for a GM. If they trade down, many fans will be happy, because let's face it - if your team has the #1 pick, you probably need more than just one player to turn things around.

Then again, nothing will kill a GM (in the mind of fans) faster than NOT taking that #1 pick, and seeing that #1 pick go on to superstardom somewhere else. Rarely does a GM get blamed for taking a player that "everybody" thinks will be #1 or #2, and it doesn't work out - but they most definitely get blamed for not taking them if they do!

Fans of San Diego aren't too upset about Vick because Tomlinson has turned out to be huge. And they weren't too pissed about the Manning thing because Brees took off the very next season. But imagine if Tomlinson was a bust, but Vick won the Falcons a Super Bowl. That's the risk that a GM takes. Even if everybody thinks one should trade down, they're going to turn on the team quickly if they trade down and those lower-rank players aren't stars if the high pick ends up being so.

And sometimes those high picks do work out. Is anyone going to argue that Palmer wasn't a fine investment of the #1 pick for the Bengals (injury aside). When they do work out, teams can be in good shape for a while.

T.

15
by stan (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 12:17pm

Why is everyone sold on Bush as a great pick? His own college team didn't think he was good enough to be their every down tailback.

Bush will likely end up as a slightly better version of Dante Hall. College RB who is too small to take the punishment as an NFL RB, outstanding returner due to speed and quickness.

There is no guarantee that Bush's talents will translate into an outstanding NFL WR. If they don't, he ends up being a kick returner and third down back who runs draws, catches check downs, and works against LBS in the passing game.

Would you use the #1 pick on Dante Hall or Dave Meggett or even a combination of both?

16
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 12:22pm

In recent years, it's been hard to trade down, but this year, with the Bush-Leinart-Young trifecta, it may be easier than some people think.

17
by mactbone (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 12:24pm

The fans I know are upset when the team trades down to grab "inferior" players or players that don't fill a need. On the other hand most fans I know would be happy to trade down if they don't think any player is worth that value - say having the fifth pick last year and not needing a RB or WR. Also, most fans complain about a high pick when the players available all have question marks like the RBs last year and figure that a player just as good will be available later.

18
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 12:26pm

Nice use of "preternatural".

Now try to work "supererogatory" into a column some time!

19
by stan (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 12:27pm

More on Bush --

The excitement over Bush is a lot like that over the Rocket. Everyone got excited about the Rocket because he made highlight tapes a lot. But Ricky Watters was a far more valuable player to Notre Dame and Lou Holtz recognized it.

People get excited over a QB who beats the blitz with a 20 yard scramble and yawn when a QB beats the blitz with a 20 yard completion to his hot read. But the hot read is more consistent and a damn sight healthier.

The key to offensive success is consistency. If a team runs for 5 yards every play, they cannot be beaten. Even by a team that averages 10 yards per pass.

The team that moves the chains consistently will win far more often than the team that relies on big plays. It isn't as exciting and doesn't make the highlights. Consistency just wins.

Watters was meat and potatoes. The Rocket was expensive wine and dessert. Watters played a lot longer in the NFL.

20
by CA (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 12:36pm

Is a draft even necessary at all in a league with a soft salary cap like the NFL? Every player could be a free agent when he enters the league, and various teams could offer individuals various amounts of money and other contract terms. The team that makes the best offer (in the eyes of the player) wins the rights to the player's services. Every team is limited by its cap space (not to mention roster limits), so no team could simply load up on all the top talent entering the NFL. Perhaps less successful teams could be allocated additional cap space to allow them to attempt to improve. And a good case could be made for a mandatory soft salary floor to ensure that stingy teams make an effort to be competitive. This is essentially the market that already exists for undrafted players (aside from the variable cap room and salary floor ideas). I'm not necessarily saying this is a good idea, but I'd like to hear some intelligent arguments for or against it.

21
by CA (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 12:43pm

The team that moves the chains consistently will win far more often than the team that relies on big plays. It isn’t as exciting and doesn’t make the highlights. Consistency just wins.

Do you, or The Outsiders, have any empirical evidence to back this statement up? Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if just the opposite is often the case, that the more explosive team outperforms the more consistent one, at least offensively. Or, in individual terms, that the "playmaker" often is more valuable than the "chain mover." This argument does hinge greatly on the definition of consistency.

22
by big_adventure (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 1:08pm

19. Not exactly - if a team averages 10 yards per pass, by completing 100% of their passes for exactly 10 yards per catch, they too will be unbeatable. sure, it is ridiculous, but so is 5 yards every time you run the ball. In fact, in your argument, it's not that unlikely that the passing team would be in good position to win if the two teams met. I think that they would have a much better chance of successfully executing rapid-fire strikes, so if they were tied (remembed, both teams score every time downfield) and they got the ball back without much time, they would have a much better chance of squeezing in a TD drive. If they were down by a TD, they would have a better chance of scoring for OT.

20 -

The advantage in the NFL's eyes is that the draft enforces parity and ties players to certain teams. #1 By ordering the picks on record, you help teams that have been unlucky/bad/injured /stupid/run-by-Matt-Millen. Sure, it's things like this that promote idiots staying in jobs for a long time that they don't merit, but it also gives fans and owners the idea that their teams are just one lucky player away from escaping the morrass of their current status as doormats. Is Indy the team it has been if they didn't score on Manning? Ask Chargers fans about that one. #2 If the Giants and the Chiefs (no offense, KC fans, I had to choose somewhere) offered the same contract to a star, the player is much more likely (in general) to take the Giants' offer. NYC offers them and their posses more opportunity - endorsements, late-night clubs filled with groupies, all-night shops stocking Kristal, etc. Thus, it would cost more for the Chiefs to maintain the same roster as the Giants without the draft. No, it would not happen the first year, as a lot of players would be tied to their existing teams for a while, and this is why that doesn't happen now (to a great extent). However, imagine what the league would look like in 15 years with no draft.

Or that is what the league probably fears. Plus, the draft system generates year-round excitement for fans, and keeps people thinking about football in April.

-Sean

23
by Smeghead (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 1:22pm

But since we're imagining -- a lot of those arguments came up against free agency in any form 30 years ago. To the extent they've come to pass, they've done so only in environments where the playing field really is manifestly uneven (MLB, we're looking in your direction). Isn't the market for veteran free agents in the hard-capped NFL a convincing enough illustration that one could just as easily apply the model to new incoming players? Crappy teams/locations are able to eviscerate that disadvantage with a couple of years' intelligent personnel management. Think how much more appealing Green Bay started looking after Reggie White signed there.

(And if the Giants get all the 22-year-olds who are attracted by Manhattan clubs, is that a help, or a hindrance?)

I don't know labor law, but I always sort of assumed growing up that the draft was not long for this world on a purely legal basis as a restraint of trade. I'm always a little bit shocked they continue to exist.

24
by Parker (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 1:24pm

#9 If someone is posting on a football related website, I consider them to be no longer a 'casual' fan.

25
by Michael David Smith :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 1:26pm

"i remember him leaping from about the 5 yeard line to about 5 yards deep in the endzone"

Well, that would break the world record in the long jump, so I think your memory may be off a bit. No doubt, Bush is a tremendous athlete who made a lot of huge plays. I've been a Bush fan for a while now; I was on the record saying he deserved the Heisman over Leinart in 2004. But that doesn't mean he'll be a star in the NFL, and I'm a little surprised at how many people think he's a sure thing. I'm not entirely convinced that he can fight for a hard couple of yards on third-and-2.

26
by Tim Gerheim :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 1:55pm

I'm actually not totally sold on Bush either, despite how the article makes it sound. I have honestly not seen that much of Bush, so I'm going for my talent scouting with what I've heard across the league, and the fact that the Texans reportedly think he's the best player and plan to take him.

I focused on the Bush-Young question in the article, not the one-of-them-or-trade-down question, because I could write for days and days and not be able to say anything definitive on the latter. I think there needs to be historical research to prove out the value of a draft pick in the salary cap era. So the point of the article wasn't to say that the Texans should take Bush rather than trading down. It was to say that if they don't want to or can't trade down, they should stick to their plan and take Bush, not Young.

27
by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 2:01pm

Regarding the draft versus free agency--I have a point for and a point against CA's suggestion.

On one hand, going to a pure free agent market might work even better at enforcing parity. When a team is a consistent winner all their players, not just stars, but consistent starters and backups, start to get viewed, and start to view themselves, as very good players and start to demand, and indeed command, higher salaries in free agencies. Would Richard Seymour have gotten his extension, would Joe Andruzzi have gotten a big free gaent deal, would a 6th round backup QB named Tom Brady now be one of the highest paid QB's in the league, if the Pats hadn't won 3 of the last four superbowls? Probably not. So successful teams would be less able to offer huge deals to free agent rookies than poor teams, because all their veterans would command a higher price and take up more of their cap. Instant parity.

But there's a counter effect as well, which may or may not be stronger. Talented rookies will be more willing to go to successful teams (regardless of the NY/KC thing), because they will have better careers there. Honestly, would any highly touted rookie prospect voluntarily play for a Matt Millen run team? Or a team that has been a bottom dweller for 10 years (Cardinals)? I can imagine rookies taking less money to play for a winner, which would hurt parity.

28
by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 2:07pm

Regarding the two QB thing:

I think it would be a lot of fun for a team to try, and might be successful. I've been wishing for a while that Atlanta would try lining up a second QB who could actually throw a pocket pass next to Vick, just to give D-coordinators fits.

But with the salary cap it's not very practical. In order to be a viable threat as a QB, a player needs certain minimum passing skills. Those skills are at such a premium that they command a large price. And I don't think any team has the cap space to sink that much money into TWO players at the QB position, without hurting themselves badly somewhere else.

You can line up players that can throw a pass, like Randal El, next to your starting QB as much as you want, and run some fun trick plays out of it, but Randal El doesn't have the skills to be an NFL-quality passer on a regular basis, or he would be a QB. So D-coordinators will never take the dual threat all that seriously. After all, the Pats line Kevin Faulk up in a second QB position all the time, next to Brady, do direct snaps to him, and even let him throw occasionally (and Brady even ran a route as a reciever twice), but they're not exactly playing "two quarterbacks".

29
by Clod (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 2:25pm

Ok all you people that think they know so much about how Reggie Bush will do nothing but be a "scat/3rd down" back or kick returner give me a break. I am not sure what you could possibly be basing that off of. Bush is 6' tall and 200 pounds, here are a few backs that are no more than 215 lbs and seem to have done pretty well for themselves this year, and two that are as small or smaller. I stopped at 215 because I don't think it would be a problem for him to put on 15 pounds in the off season if that is what he or his agent/potential team thinks would be best.

Tiki Barber
Height: 5-10
Weight: 200
357 carries, 1860 yds

Clinton Portis
Height: 5-11
Weight: 212
352 carries, 1516 yds

Edgerrin James
Height: 6-0
Weight: 214
360 carries, 1506 yds

Warrick Dunn
Height: 5-9
Weight: 180
280 carries, 1416 yds

Reuben Droughns
Height: 5-11
Weight: 215
309 carries, 1232 yds

Willie Parker
Height: 5-10
Weight: 209
255 carries, 1202 yds

From watching Bush several times this year I would say he is AT LEAST as fast as any of these guys, and one thing he did this year that he didn't last is learn from Tomlinson (by working out with him last off season) was getting low and pushing with power at the end of runs.

Any team with half an offensive line would be stupid to not draft him.

30
by MTR (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 2:41pm

Re 29: Yet at USC Bush wasn't used as an every down back. If Bush could handle 25 carries a game why didn't Carroll use him that way?

31
by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 2:44pm

Does Houston have half an offensive line?

32
by Clod (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 2:50pm

If you had two backs with completely different styles, would you only use the best one? Look at what Pittsburgh and Denver did this year, and Atlanta to a lesser extent. Its about matchups and coaching strategy more than what you "could" do. That doesn't really seem like an argument for or agianst what he does...what does Petes coaching strategy have to do with this argument?

If he has the ability and the qualities to succeed then who cares what Petey does? Any coach that had White would be dumb not to mix it up with him, he is also a superb talent in a different way.

33
by Clod (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 2:50pm

#31 - NO

34
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 3:06pm

I'm already on record as thinking LenDale White will be the Franco Harris to Bush's Lydell Mitchell (which presupposes a pretty damn good career for Bush, just not an ATG). White is the kind of back NFL teams seem to favor, and if he does slide down below the marquee three, fans in Green Bay or New York will be very happy.

35
by Jason (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 3:11pm

RBs have amazing attrition rates. The fact that Bush wasn't run into the ground, say like most of the RBs in last year's class, is a major pro, not a con. His talent is pretty much indisputable, regardless of Pete's usage patterns. Not that I think it was intentional, but Pete did Reggie a huge (potentially HOF) favor by not abusing him.

36
by Dave (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 3:15pm

MTR - Carroll had LenDale White. And FO has documented pretty well that running back by committee is much better for the long-term health of your running backs.

37
by Basilicus (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 3:54pm

Very well written article. Some of these things have been said already in other forums and by other writers, but not in quite so concise and complete a manner.

38
by J.S. (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 4:01pm

RE 29

But that IS the problem, all the top ten draft pick teams do NOT have an offensive line. He will get killed just like poor Daivd Carr did this year. (why take it out on a 4th year QB when the D-Line has a rookie to smash?)

39
by Larry (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 4:40pm

Re: #21

I would take the fascinating DriveSuccessRate data from the book as somewhat persuasive here. Namely, the odds of getting a new set of downs is basically a constant. Therefore, it seems to me, teams would be much more successful if they are able to get multiple first downs at once (i.e. a big play) than if they have to keep getting first downs one at a time. The question of course, is how high you could raise that first down success rate (DSR) by going for consistency. I'm going to try to do some analysis on whether any teams actually do try to manipulate their offenses or defenses to fall on one side or the other of this question (my initial motivation was to find out whether the "bend-but-don't-break" defense really exists or if it is a myth that is really all about starting field position).

40
by Larry (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 4:42pm

Sorry for the double post - but two separate topics.

I'm not sold on Reggie Bush, either. Too much dancing in the hole for me. In the NFL, those holes won't be open long enough to do that. But, I could be wrong.

41
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 4:50pm

Yet again, half an offensive line is exactly what Houston does have - the running half. Go check the stats elsewhere on the site if you don't believe me.

42
by stan (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 4:51pm

There is more to being a pro RB than running draws and sweeps. Yes, Bush is a very talented athlete. So is Vince Young. The question with both of them is whether their talent fits into the pro game sufficiently to justify a #1 pick. Because there is no way to answer that question before the draft, they become bigger risks.

43
by dave whorton (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 5:02pm

great article aaron!

44
by stan (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 5:14pm

re: offensive consistency

Part of the question revolves around what kind of team you have. If you are below average in talent, an inconsistent, but sometimes spectacular, QB like Vick is likely to help more than a steady decision maker (like Brad Johnson was reportedly playing this year in MN). Poor teams have trouble sustaining drives. The better the offensive talent, however, the greater the premium on consistency. You don't have to rely on big plays to score. Consistent execution (i.e. avoiding mistakes) will put points on the board.

Note that defense is entirely different. A sack, turnover, or big penalty can derail a drive. A DE who beats the OT twice in an entire game may win their individual battle for the day. Ten offensive players can execute, but one missed block results in a loss. The offense can win 7 or 8 plays in a row, but one defensive big play can stop a drive.

45
by Flux (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 7:19pm

I enjoyed the article, but this part made me laugh out loud.

"Because of his preternatural athleticism, defenses play Young differently than they would a Matt Leinart. They put a spy on him, thereby taking a guy out of coverage;"

I guess USC never got that memo, eh? They seemed stunned every time he scrambled until the final posession, when they started (ineffectively) delay blitzing 2 guys every play. A good spy to stop or even slow Young's scrambling and USC won by 20.

46
by Nicolas (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 7:23pm

One big huge reason that Young should be drafted by the Texans is the amount of love and respect he and thereby the team will get from the fans. Look at what Vick has done with the Falcons. Yeah, it probably will blow up in their faces pretty soon, but I don't think many people will point and say that it was a bad draft choice. As I recall they basically sold out the stadium for two-three years after Vick was drafted.

47
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 7:37pm

Why run Reggie Bush on every play? Because they have different kinds of running styles for starters. It's the same reason that Warrick Dunn and TJ Duckett play on different downs. Bush is far more deadly as a pass receiver, he's better in the open field and he's better at improvisation. White is a punishing power runner who is good at blocking as well.

This seems like asking why Auburn didn't just run Cadillac Williams instead of Ronnie Brown. Both backs were great. Why just use one when you can use both?

Bush might not be the best back if you're looking for a power game, though he's quite good at putting hits on people when he needs to. He's almost definitely a good choice in some kind of hybrid position, similar to what Marshall Faulk did and what Westbrook does.

As to his NFL skills - as stated, it's hard to prove that one way or another, but in general running backs have not been busts in the NFL for any reason other than injury/personal reasons, and they seem to be the most likely to have productive early seasons. A RB isn't that hard to gauge in terms of their skill level in the NFL.

48
by stan (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 9:19pm

Kal,

To some extent, you are assuming the question. If Bush can't be an every down back, is he worth a #1 pick? I don't think so. The fact that other teams use RB tandems effectively doesn't mean that either of those backs was worth the #1 pick.

So the question is whether he can be an every down back. Does he have the skill and toughness to run with power between the tackles 25 times a game? We don't know. You are right, any back being considered for the first pick has normally already shown he has that critical skill.

We are back where we started. Is it wise for a team to take the risk that Bush can only be a part-time player?

49
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 9:27pm

I guess my point is that using Bush as a back that runs between the tackles 25 times a game would be a really bad use of him. That's not utilizing his skills to their best benefit, and if a team wants to draft him with that in mind, they're not doing the right thing.

If they draft him with the idea of giving him 30+ plays a game, but about half are interior runs, I think that he'll prove to be a very good #1 pick.

I don't think he'll ever be just a part-time player. I think that he may not be in on every single rushing down as the RB, and I think that's probably the right use of him.

50
by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2006 - 2:40am

Flux- I'm pretty sure that USC was spying and/or running containment blitzes, just like Michigan did last year. It didn't make the slightest difference.

Re 38: It doesn't matter if Bush gets killed behind a bad offensive line this year. You don't draft a player for what they give you their rookie season, but for what they can give you over the length of their career. San Diego had a terrible offensive line when they took LaDanian Tomlinson. How's that working out for them?

You take players who you can build around and then you do just that- build around them.

51
by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2006 - 2:59am

Though to be fair, Bush is one of the backs that I'd want if I didn't have a good O Line to back him up; he does fairly well outside and in odd situations and in improvisation. It would help him, but I would bet on him doing a lot of Barry Sanders like plays - where he loses 6 yards one play and then gains 20 another.

52
by hector (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2006 - 5:53am

The Texans should take Young, he is a local boy and he will be an immediate hero. Carr can be traded for a tackle (even an old one) and the texans could sign Frerotte/Fiedler/Holcomb/Kitna... or even better for them McNair (Young's hero and mentor). The Texans need to hire a recognized offensive line coach, when you see the Dolphins-Houch miracle, you're allowed to think it can be a solution.
The media-hype would be unstoppable if McNair and Young could re-unite in Houston.

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by Rick (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2006 - 8:49am

Bush will be the biggest NFL bust since Ryan Leaf and Mike Vick. It's about money, plain and simple. Houston can sell more tickets and generate more fan support with Young. Their worst nightmare is Young ending up in Dallas. Bush is NOT a primary running back. He is nothing more than a Rocket Ismail, Tim Dwight, or Desmond Howard, only with a worse attitude. The hangdog pouting act after his lateral debacle won't play in the NFL. When the time came to "man-up", Bush didn't answer the call. The "refuse to lose" attitude of Young makes for better leadership in the huddle, and in the locker room.

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by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2006 - 10:02am

The fan support issue is an important one, but I don't think it's as relevant to the Bush-Young debate as it is to the stick-trade down debate. Either Bush or Young would sell a shedload of tickets and be good for fan support, as they will be exciting players to watch. If the Texans draft either of them, this, and not footballing factors, will be the best justification that can be offered.

Ferguson is the surest thing there has been in the NFL draft in years, and anyone who wants to know the difference an elite LT can make to an offense need only compare KC's performance with and without Roaf, or Dallas's with and without Adams. If Casserly can get a decent offer out of Tennessee, he'd be a fool not to take it. If he gets one from Jersey/B, he should probably draft Bush and then make the trade only when the Jets hit the clock, and only if Ferguson is still there.

Can anyone remember off-hand what sort of noises (if any) Casserly was making about Ricky Williams before that trade? I wouldn't be at all surprised if the insistence that the pick will be used on Bush is a stratagem aimed at getting maximum trade value.

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by Michael David Smith :: Wed, 01/11/2006 - 7:55pm

Does anyone know of a good source for college stats that goes back at least 10 years? I'd love to compare Bush's stats with those of the other first-round picks of recent years. I don't know, but I'm guessing that Bush has fewer career college carries than any running back drafted in the first round in several years.