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2011 NFL Draft Thread: Mario Williams Was The Right Choice

With the Houston Texans officially eliminated from playoff contention, the talk of the fanbase will shift to coaching changes, off-season moves, and the 2011 NFL Draft. Before we break down prospects and analyze mock drafts, we're going to re-visit Texans draft history to study where the franchise has been and grade each of the nine drafts. Let's begin, shall we?

Here it is, in case your minds have blocked it out, the 2006 Houston Texans draft class:
1st Round - DE Mario Williams (North Carolina State)
2nd Round - LB DeMeco Ryans (Alabama)
3rd Round - OT Charles Spencer (Pittsburgh), OT Eric Winston (Miami)
4th Round - TE Owen Daniels (Wisconsin)
5th Round - Traded
6th Round - RB Wali Lundy (Virginia)
7th Round - Traded, WR David Anderson (Colorado State)

Talk about a flashback, right? If you're wondering where those guys are five years later then wonder no more:
- A three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, Mario Williams has definitively answered the question if Houston got it right or not. He's been a top-five defensive end while Reggie Bush has been a third-down running back (effective but not worth #2 dollars) and Vince Young has seen unending drama in Tennessee.
- Ryans, a Pro Bowler and All-Pro himself, is the leader of the Houston defense and has been consistent until his ACL injury earlier this season.
- Spencer played for the UFL's Florida Tuskers in 2009 and, more recently, had a workout with the Texans in 2010.
- Winston still starts at right tackle. Long considered the best Texans lineman, Winston has struggled this season.
- Daniels, a Pro Bowl TE, has been a value pick, but he has struggled in his return from an ACL injury.
- Lundy showed some flashes as a rookie, but he was released in 2007 and didn't catch on anywhere else.
- Anderson is still with the Texans and proven himself reliable in the slot.
- Those traded picks were compensation for WR Eric Moulds (Buffalo) and WR Kevin Walter (from Cincinnati). Moulds was a bit long in the tooth when he got here, but Walter is a still a starter.

The big question from the 2006 NFL Draft is who ran the show: soon-to-be leaving general manager Charley Casserly or new head coach Gary Kubiak? Given the past drafts I've reviewed, I doubt it was Casserly. The 2006 Draft stands as the best in franchise history given the six Pro Bowls and three All-Pros between the six picks who resulted in players who still start/contribute to the organization today. Even Lundy and Spencer showed promise before they were waived for injuries (or whatever it was in Lundy's case). One note is the picks from the big programs such Alabama, Miami, and Wisconsin.

How would I re-draft the entire class now? Again, I only select from the players available at the Texans pick and try to keep in mind the schemes ran back then. I'm also considering my previous re-drafts in this as well. At the moment, I could use depth at FB, OT, DE, NT, ILB, FS.

1st Round - DE Mario Williams (North Carolina State)
2nd Round - LB DeMeco Ryans (Alabama)
3rd Round - OT Eric Winston (Miami), DE/OLB Elvis Dumervil (Louisville)
4th Round - TE Owen Daniels (Wisconsin)
5th Round - DT Kyle Williams (LSU)
6th Round - OT Donald Penn (Utah State)
7th Round - Traded for K. Walter, WR David Anderson (Colorado State)

How good a draft is this? I kept six out of nine picks the same. Even if I took into account my re-drafts and the switch to the 4-3, this looks pretty good. There was just a lot of talent taken in 2006 by Houston.

This was a big first step in correcting the errors of Casserly and Capers. The class was talented and continues to make an impact on the Texans in 2010. For whoever (Kubiak?) ran this class, I give an A- on overall draft class and Texans impact. The only minor gripe I have is trading for the older Eric Moulds when Buffalo took Kyle Williams, who is having a fantastic season in Buffalo as their anchor in the 3-4.

Next up? The 2007 NFL Draft where Houston took a chance on a teenager.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.