By David J. Cohen
The Houston Texans are reportedly looking into trading the first overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. They have already contacted a couple of teams about a possible trade. The move would be a smart one for the Texans, who need many pieces instead of one, have a solid QB in David Carr and have perhaps the NFL’s most underrated RB in Domanick Davis. And from what I’ve seen at the combine through day 5, this year’s crop of players is the deepest group in years. This means the Texans could trade the pick, still be high in round 1, and obtain additional high round draft choices which should yield top round talent.
If the pick is available for the taking there are several teams that could make a move for the spot. Some of these teams should move up and some should just stay put. Here are some possible teams that could make a move to get the player they truly covet.
New Orleans Saints – They have the second pick in the draft and are currently in position to get their future at QB. I believe they want USC QB Matt Leinart. Even though Texas QB Vince Young has been speculated as the possible selection, the “ghost” of Aaron Brooks should steer the Saints away from Young. They may try to work something out with Houston to draft Leinart. This trade would be similar to the one made when the Falcons and Chargers swapped picks over a battle between a RB and QB: QB Michael Vick and RB LaDainian Tomlinson. I don’t see the Texans pulling the trigger right now unless the Saints cough up their 2nd round pick. However, if the Texans are still #1 on draft day and are determined to get picks, they may draft Leinart and trade him to the Saints.
Tennessee Titans – They hold the 3rd pick. If they contact the Texans, they must want Leinart. They are in a position to select Young, who could turn into what Michael Vick was SUPPOSED TO BE in the NFL: a mobile QB deadly with his legs and ACCURATE with his arm. An overlooked stat for Young is that he was the most efficient QB in college football this year, meaning that what the country saw in the Rose Bowl wasn’t a fluke. The details of the trade would have to parallel what the Saints would need to package. I think the Titans would rather have Young, who fits the mold of their current QB Steve McNair. It is also worth mentioning that McNair has been a mentor of Young’s for over a year, which only adds to the incentive to make Young the successor to the McNair throne. I don’t see Tennessee making a move unless they believe a team below them will trade up and take Young.
New York Jets – They have the 4th pick and is the team currently being speculated to make the move. They are also a team that I feel should stay put and not move up. Reports are that the Jets want Leinart. I don’t see Leinart making a smooth transition from USC to New York. The only “pretty-boy” QB who made it in New York was Joe Namath, and he will be the only one. Leinart has questions coming into the draft, like his passion for the game, his maturity, and his arm strength. The Jets need a QB with all three of these qualities to please their fans and start the rebuilding process. The huge deficit against the cap has forced them to do what the Titans did last year. They have already cut several marquee players and there will be more to come. QB Chad Pennington is next. The Jets are in a perfect position right now to take the best passer in the draft: Vanderbilt QB Jay Cutler. He was highly praised by scouts and backed it all up at the combine. He has a cannon for an arm, is very accurate on all routes, is mature, and has great physical strength (he had 23 reps at 225 pounds, a combine QB record; the best center in the draft had 24). This should translate into durability in the NFL. He has some decision-making issues and a tendency to throw off his back foot at times, but these problems are not severe and shouldn’t hamper him during his pro career. Cutler is also the only QB of the three that I feel can start right away without it hurting his development. And if Cutler is off the board the Jets can start rebuilding their offensive line by drafting Virginia OT D’Brickashaw Ferguson, who would make a great addition to a shredded Jets line. If they decide to move to the top of the draft, they may not have to give up a lot of picks if they throw DE John Abraham into the deal. Then the deal could be Abraham, the 4th pick, and the Jets 3rd round to the Texans for the 1st pick in the opening round as well as the 2nd and 4th rounds.
San Francisco 49ers – They have the 6th selection. While they need a lot of different players to fix their team, they are a team that should try to get the top pick in order to draft USC RB Reggie Bush. The RB position has to be one of the 49ers most pressing needs, and Bush would be able to help them immediately while getting people into the stands. Bush is the all-around weapon since he can be a dangerous WR and an explosive runner, having the ability to reach the end-zone on any play. He should be at worst a better version of Eagles RB Brian Westbrook. This will help out struggling QB Alex Smith, who was an obvious reach with the top pick last year. The Texans could trade the pick to the 49ers if they can get either the 2nd round pick or the 3rd, 4th, and 6th round picks as part of a package between the two teams. This scenario would greatly benefit the Texans as they would be able to collect picks and be in a great position to either draft or trade at 6th overall. If they draft they would take Ohio State LB A.J. Hawk or Maryland TE Vernon Davis. Davis tore up the combine with the fastest time ever for a TE at the combine, running a 4.38 40-yard dash. He also displayed a 42″ vertical and did 33 reps at 225 pounds, which beat most of the offensive and defensive lineman. He is a versatile player; essentially he is a wide receiver who can burn you while taking the hit over the middle. He is also easily the best blocking TE in the draft. He has the potential to be the best all-around TE in the league within 3 years. Thus, he would be a great selection for the Texans. If the 49ers try to make a move, I think they will get it done.
Detroit Lions – There are very understandable reasons why the Lions could be a dark-horse and make a big jump. They need a QB and would love to bring Leinart or Young in. They would have to give up at least their top 2 picks for a deal to be considered. They would probably have to give up too much in picks alone to make a deal. Look for them to instead try to trade up for Cutler (if they can’t sign QB Drew Brees).
Arizona Cardinals – They are in the 10th slot right now. While they would love to draft RB Reggie Bush, they would have to cough up a lot of picks and possibly a solid player to go from 10 to one. If they felt that Bush was worth trading away a player like WR Anquan Boldin, then they would be able to trade with the Texans in a deal where the Cards get the Texans top 2 picks for Boldin and the 10th pick. Obviously this is a huge risk and a long-shot as the Cardinals can address defensive needs with the 10th pick. It is also a strong possibility the Cardinals will have RB Edgerrin James by draft day.
These six teams are the realistic possibilities for the Texans if they choose to trade the first pick. The Jets are media frontrunners right now but I don’t see them getting the pick when it is all set and done. I do think the Texans will trade the pick. It is in their best interest as they try to build a foundation of players for the future. I think the 49ers will make the strongest push and make the move to keep Reggie Bush in California. If not, the Saints will likely have the top pick as trade speculation from teams like the Jets would drive the Saints to trade up and get their man.
-draft order, combine stats