Was Mario Williams the wrong choice for Houston Texans in 2006?

Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images) /

The Houston Texans had the first overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.

To make a play on words, to have a high draft pick is to have a great responsibility. Heading into the 2006 draft, everyone expected the Houston Texans to pick USC running back Reggie Bush. Now for those of you who are younger NFL fans, it was not uncommon to see running backs go high in the draft.

Today’s draft climate doesn’t view running backs in that high of regard unless you are Travis Etienne or Najee Harris. If you are presumed to be the best running back in the draft, then it’s a likely scenario to go in the first round.

That was arguably the golden age of running backs when they were still valued as first-round talents. Houston had the 26th ranked offense the year prior, and selecting Bush would’ve taken some pressure off of David Carr.

There were also the projections of Mario Williams, the defensive end out of North Carolina State. Draft pundits also saw Williams going first as a possibility, but not an expected one. So did the Houston Texans end up making the right decision?

The Houston Texans made the wrong decision selecting Mario Williams

Before the words start flying here, let me explain why this was the wrong choice. The Texans had a struggling offensive line that couldn’t keep David Carr upright at all. This team already had their future Hall of Fame wide receiver in Andre Johnson. Had the Houston Texans selected Reggie Bush, just imagine what that would have done to defensive game plans.

Defensive coordinators would have had to deal with an all-purpose running back who excelled in catching the ball and being shifty enough to make his own plays. There would have been an NFL version of a “Big Three” to make an NBA parallel.

While Williams did go on to earn four Pro Bowl selections, only two of them were with Houston, and the other two came during his Buffalo tenure. It was also in Buffalo that Williams earned an All-Pro selection as well.

A defensive end can only do so much, but did that pick really help the Texans? Here’s a look at their team defensive ranks from Pro Football Reference.

Houston Texans Defense ranks 2006-2011:

  • 2006: 26th
  • 2007: 22nd
  • 2008: 27th
  • 2009:17th
  • 2010: 29th
  • 2011: 4th

The only reason it jumped so much in 2011 was due to the drafting of J.J. Watt. Williams left after the 2011 season to sign with Buffalo.

Stats. Highlights. player. Running Back. USC. ReggieBush. 2. 808

Meanwhile, Bush was being used in both the rushing and passing game and helped elevate New Orleans to the playoffs and eventually (albeit tainted) Super Bowl title. It wasn’t known then, but the game was shifting from the “defense wins championships” to more of “offensive mistakes cost championships” (see Super Bowl LIV).

The Houston Texans could have used Bush on offense and probably would have had a greater impact than Mario Williams had on the defense.  If Houston winds up with a high pick or even another first overall, they need to take the offensive player instead this time and see what happens.