Reggie Bush: NFL draft gem?

point counterpoint

Going into the 2006 NFL draft, the Houston Texans have three legitimate players they could choose with their first-overall pick: the USC Trojans’ Reggie Bush or Matt Leinart, or Texas Longhorn Vince Young.

Although we’re still three months away from the draft, the Texans have come out and declared that they will take Bush, the running back. Not only would drafting Bush make the Texans better, but it’s also a very smart business move in the short run.

Bush is widely regarded as the best player in the draft. He makes plays on the field that remind people of greats like Barry Sanders. His cutbacks, spins and ability to keep a play alive will put fans in the seats. He doesn’t fumble. He makes catches that put wide receivers to shame. The list goes on.

He has the potential to be one of the best running backs of our generation, if not all time. It is true that potential can be a dangerous word, but in an NFL draft, no future is absolutely certain.

The only real predicament for the Texans is that they already have serviceable players at both positions. They would likely improve their team the most if they added nothing but offensive linemen and defensive players. Unfortunately for them, the draft is less than conducive to their needs.

This leaves the Houston management asking themselves the following question: Do we replace our quarterback—himself a former first-overall pick—with another first, or do we replace our running back—a former fourth-round draft choice—with the player that every team in the league wants to draft? Despite the productivity of said running back Domanick Davis, you just do not pass on Reggie Bush.

The combination of Bush’s talent and the danger inherent in drafting a quarterback with the number-one pick (will you get a Peyton Manning or a Ryan Leaf?) makes this choice a no-brainer.

Should I be incorrect in my assessment of Bush’s skills, the Texans’ early declaration of their intentions to take him will still benefit their team. This announcement has raised his draft value and will allow Houston to control negotiations with any team that wants to trade up to the number-one spot.

As I mentioned earlier, the Texans have many holes to fill elsewhere on their team, so if management decides to trade the pick, they could stand to gain even more than the Redskins did for the rights to draft Ricky Williams in 1999 (eight draft picks). The Texans have put themselves in the driver’s seat, and whether they draft Bush or trade the pick for a dozen players or so, they will be a much improved team in 2006-2007.

--Dain Willis

There’s no denying that USC running back Reggie Bush is one of the most purely talented college backs in recent memory. Resembling a bigger, faster version of Marshall Faulk, he has shredded defences with frightening ease.

However, is the projected number-one draft pick the surefire next best thing? Hardly. This year’s draft has prospects who could be better in the NFL, namely Texas Longhorns quarterback Vince Young and my pick for the sleeper of the draft, Bush’s backfield mate at USC, LenDale White.

Bush and White are a successful college version of the New York Giants’ failed “Thunder and Lightning” combo of Tiki Barber and Ron Dayne. When one wasn’t speeding through defences, the other would plough right through them. Though Barber is easily a top-five pro back and Dayne sits on the bench in Denver, it won’t be the same for Bush and White.

Both players will do extremely well in the NFL, but it will be White who will emerge as the sort of workhorse pro that teams covet. White has quietly amassed more than 1,500 total yards this year, running for 124 yards and three touchdowns in the Rose Bowl and finishing with eight more touchdowns than Bush. He established himself as the go-to back in the red zone, and after notching multiple touchdowns in all but three games this year, White has been a model of consistency.

This steady production will be the factor that will elevate White above Bush in the NFL. Bush has only had more than 20 carries twice in his entire college career, and you have to wonder how his body will hold up in the pros.

Young is also a stronger prospect than Bush. A 6’5,” 235-pound quarterback, he put together arguably the greatest performance ever by a quarterback in a championship game at this year’s Rose Bowl. With the 467 total yards and three touchdowns on 75 per cent passing in this year’s game, he has totaled an astounding 839 total yards and nine touchdowns in two Rose Bowl appearances.

A bigger, stronger version of the Atlanta Falcons’ Michael Vick, Young has both the speed and agility to be a running threat and an arm strong enough for any NFL offence. Combine his physical talent with his leadership skills, and you have a superstar in the making.

There’s no doubt that Bush could be the best back the NFL has ever seen. However, Texas showed that Bush can be relatively contained with a fast defence, and USC showed little confidence using Bush in short yardage situations.

Bush wasn’t the Rose Bowl’s top player, and there’s a good chance he will be similarly outpaced by both Young and White in the NFL.

--Mike Thornburn

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.