http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/5234 ... 3162&ATT=5
**NOTE: Poll on link after 37,000 votes is dead even for Bush/Young
50% think texans should draft Bush
50% think texans should draft Young
The Texans are certainly sitting pretty now, aren't they?
The league has been abuzz about Reggie Bush for months. Now, as if to make up for lost time, the buzz about Vince Young is deafening. Until Wednesday, the debate for the Texans was whether they should take Bush or trade down for players at postions where they really needed help, like Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk or Virginia left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Now there's a new layer to the debate: take Vince or take Reggie?
Reggie Bush is a known quantity. It's much easier to project a college running back to the NFL than a college quarterback, particularly a quarterback such as Vince Young. Bush was on the radar screen as a possible early entrant and first round pick even before this season. Young flew up the draft boards ? at least the media's, if not the ones on NFL general managers' walls ? on the strength of one phenomenal game. If the Texans want the best player they can find with the top pick, Bush is still the best choice. One great game isn't enough to change that.
Taking Young instead of Bush with the first pick would represent a monumental risk for the Texans. The term that has attached itself to Bush is "can't-miss prospect." It's true that running back is far from the top in the list of needs for the Texans. But they would take Bush because they are so certain that, barring injury, he will be one of the best players at his position. Quarterback isn't high on the list of needs either ? depending on your opinion of David Carr, it is a position that could be improved but not one that is holding back the team ? so the Texans would have to be as certain about Young as they are about Bush.
Young's potential is unprecedented. If his passing could catch up to his running, he could be the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL. But that might never happen, and he could be merely another Kordell Stewart.
Young needs a lot of work to make it in the NFL. He's a great football player, and a great quarterback, but his strengths made up for the deficiencies in his game at the college level in ways that they won't at the pro level. His strengths are his tremendous athleticism, as expressed in his running ability that might be better than Michael Vick's, and his calmness and consequent ability to know what's going on everywhere on the field.
Vince Young running is a thing of beauty. When Vick runs, it's exciting, because he is always capable of scoring. But Young seems to glide effortlessly down the field, his long strides spiriting him past the defense much faster than they seem. He has a truly extraordinary feel for where defenders are and where they're coming from, and he can avoid them so deftly that they end up looking silly. That also allows him to avoid hard head-on hits ? the kind of hits that get quarterbacks injured. He sheds tacklers effortlessly because of his great balance and body control, and when he gets tackled he tends to get pulled down rather than knocked down.
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; when he drifts toward scrambling, they pursue him more vigorously than they would other players. That all causes a lot of big holes in the coverage all over the field for his receivers to plant themselves in, and his field awareness allows him to find them and hit them in those holes. Because they're so open so much of the time, he doesn't have to be as accurate or as strong-armed with a lot of his big throws.
To be sure, he throws a lot of good, quick, NFL-style passes, but they aren't his bread and butter, and they're not as consistently successful. It's no coincidence that the offense stalled out in the red zone a few times in the Rose Bowl, and that all the Texas touchdowns were on the ground. Open spaces in the defense don't appear as readily, and they aren't as big, when the field is compressed in the red zone. So Young can't lob those really gorgeous passes to wide open receivers like he does between the 20s.
Most of Young's highlight reel passes are rainbows to uncovered receivers that don't necessarily demonstrate accuracy or a strong arm. That's not to say that they're passes that any quarterback could make. It's only because he's Vince Young that he can be scrambling to his right and a receiver can be open all the way across the field to his left after the defense slackened its discipline to defend the scramble. And on top of that, it's an entirely different skill that he is able to find that receiver back to the left, know how open he is, know that he'll still be open when a pass gets to him, and then throw it to him accurately. That is an extremely potent and rare combination. But it's not necessarily one that will be as effective in the NFL.
NFL defenses won't have the same response to Young's scrambling that college defenses do. For one thing, they've kind of caught up to Vick at this point, and so they have a head start on Young, who's similar at least as far as the defensive scheme required. But more than that, the reason he's so dangerous in college football is because he's head and shoulders better than any athlete on any defense he's seen all season, with maybe one exception per very good team. He will still be an upper-echelon athlete in the NFL, but the gap won't be as wide.
His runs won't be so consistently effective, and they won't be so devastating. NFL defenses won't have to game-plan as hard against them, and defenders won't overcommit as much to them. NFL defensive players are also a lot more experienced, and probably by and large football smarter than college defensive players, so they will tend better to keep to their coverage and backside responsibilities even when Young is scrambling in the pocket. All of that means that he won't find those huge open spaces with receivers in them. He will have to throw zippier, more accurate passes. Maybe not as zippy and accurate as a Matt Leinart will, but still better than most of the passes he threw in college.
The last time the Texans held the No. 1 pick, they chose quarterback David Carr. (Scott Halleran / Getty Images)
There's no reason to think that he can't do this. He's shown definite improvement as a passer every year, and his work ethic is famous. But if the Texans tried to take Young as is and play him, they would find little success. It's well known that his mechanics are poor, and he almost never ran an NFL-style dropback at Texas. There is certainly no guarantee that he will one day be a Pro Bowl-caliber passer ? which is what you expect if you draft him with the first overall pick. The jury is still out on Vick as a passer, and while he and Young are not identical, that should be enough to make the Texans wonder.
Not only is Young a risky pick, drafting him would mark a major overhaul for the Texans. A team can make use of more than one good running back ? Denver does it every year ? but only one quarterback. Drafting Young means giving up on Carr. But Young needs time to develop as an NFL quarterback, meaning Houston would have to keep Carr until Young was ready, with everyone knowing that Carr would then be released, or release Carr and sign a veteran free-agent seat filler. They would have to make that decision by the Pro Bowl, when Carr becomes a free agent unless the Texans pick up his option.
But that isn't the case with running backs, particularly with Bush and Domanick Davis. Each year, Davis has missed at least one game and been slowed in others due to injury, and Bush is a smaller back who benefits from sharing the rushing duties. Not only that, both Davis and Bush are excellent receivers out of the backfield, so they could line up together in creative formations, helping to bolster the Texans' thin wide receiver corps. The Texans could also move backup running back Jonathan Wells, a good football player but their worst pure runner, to fullback ? a la Mike Anderson in Denver in 2004. With Broncos offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak the likely choice as the Texans' next head coach, Houston would be poised to imitate Denver's annual rushing excellence.
That doesn't mean the Texans need a running back like Bush, and in the short term they would improve more by trading down and drafting a player who, although he might not be as good as Bush, would fill a position that is currently a weakness. Or they could take Bush because he is the "best player available," which happens to be a lot easier to do when the best player is a running back, not a quarterback. Drafting Bush would not force the Houston front office's hand the same way drafting Young would.
The first pick is not for taking gambles. Vince Young, at this stage of his development, is a gamble. The upside is there, and it is tremendous, but so is the risk that the Texans would be right back here five years from now ? watching the David Carr-led Raiders challenge the Reggie Bush-led Saints in Super Bowl XLV while trying to decide whom they should take with the top pick to replace Vince Young.