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Michael Smith: Draft Genius

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Editor's Note: This story originally referred to the Michael Smith in question as "Michael David Smith." In fact, there are TWO Michael Smiths that write football analysis, one for ESPN, and one for Football Outsiders/Prospectus. The article referenced below was written by ESPN's Michael Smith, and NOT by Football Prospectus' Michael DAVID Smith. The David of the two is the one you want to find yourself reading regularly. ESPN's Michael Smith is not to be confused with him.

ESPN's Michael Smith writes a lengthy column urging the Texans to take NC State defensive end Mario Williams ahead of Reggie Bush and Vince Young. The case for taking Williams ahead of Bush is actually compelling. But there isn't a single argument for why the Texans should take Williams instead of Young.

In fact, the arguments in the article, if applied uniformly, support taking Young.

Among them:

The Texans should take Williams because he plays the position with more impact, D-end. Good running backs come in all sizes, shapes and rounds. Great pass rushers are rare. That's why backs don't get paid what ends do. Look, money talks: The highest franchise and transition numbers (the average salaries of, respectively, the top five and 10 highest-paid players at each position) belong to quarterbacks, followed by ends, linebackers, offensive linemen, wide receivers and then running backs.

Thanks, Mike. To review:

1.    Quarterbacks
2.    Defensive Ends

Rank the following players according to the above standard: Vince Young, Mario Williams. (This, by the way, is what the Wonderlic looks like. Michael Smith is off to a bad start.)

The choice of Williams comes down to whether the Texans want to sell tickets now or distribute Super Bowl tickets later... A Jevon Kearse, a Julius Peppers, a Simeon Rice, a Michael Strahan, a Jason Taylor ... the Bruce Smiths, the Reggie Whites ... those are the type of player around whom you build your defense and your team. Obviously, White and Rice are the only Super Bowl winners of the bunch, but the rest -- except Taylor -- were defensive catalysts for teams that reached the championship.

The problem, of course, is that while Michael's argument makes some amount of sense in choosing Williams over Bush, it -clearly- doesn't hold water if you apply it to Young because, as you know, I know, and his lack of bringing it up suggests he knows, the quarterback is far more important to a team's chances of making the Super Bowl than the defensive end.

The reigning champion Steelers, for example, run a 3-4 defense. Their incredible two-year run (15-1 regular season in 2004; Super Bowl title in 2005) took off when Ben Roethlisberger became the starter. The Patriots weren't exactly world-beaters until that Tom Brady guy took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe. This isn't complicated: championship teams almost universally are built around strong quarterbacks. Anyone wonder if Vince Young is a championship player?

In the short term, Williams wouldn't impact Houston's defense the way Bush would the Texans' offense. They'd still have a lot of holes on defense. The offense is on its way, ready to set it off. Still, the end is the way to go.

Their offense is on its way? I'm sorry, but watching David Carr get sacked 270 times does not qualify as "on the way." The Houston Texans have so many problems - on both sides of the ball - that they should either trade their pick or get a guy behind center that can avoid the onslaught of defenders that the line has shown no ability to block.

This. Is. Not. Rocket. Science.

Houston can put butts in the seats -and- take their first real step toward the Super Bowl. All they have to do is draft Vince.

--PB--