Want proof that the Houston Texans could be a real sleeper team in 2009?
It's the 2006 NFL Draft.
|Most wanted the Texans to draft hometown favorite Vince Young (right) or Reggie Bush over Mario Williams (left). (Getty Images)|
Chalk one up for Casserly. Williams is a star pass rusher, while Bush is a situational runner and Young is a clipboard holder.• Prisco: 2006 grades
But it's the rest of that draft that really should make Casserly proud. He nailed it. He also landed three other quality starters. Three of the four have already been to the Pro Bowl.
Those three are Williams, linebacker DeMeco Ryans and tight end Owen Daniels. The fourth is right tackle Eric Winston, arguably one of the best at his position in the league.
The seventh-round pick that year was receiver David Anderson, a player the Texans believe can have his breakout season in 2009.
It takes three years to truly grade a draft, which is why we're talking about this now. When the 2006 draft took place, the Texans didn't get many good grades. But in doing the grading of the players selected by all 32 teams in 2006, the Texans stood above all others.
Casserly was let go in June of 2006, and he now works for CBS Sports. A part of him has to feel true vindication as he watches the Texans play.
Three years can change the read of a draft. It did for the Texans and it's why it's grading time for the 2006 draft:
On paper, their draft looked good back in 2006. But Matt Leinart hasn't done much and the rest of the class has produced just two starters -- and neither guard Deuce Lutui (second) nor tight end Leonard Pope (third) are better than average of their positions. Fourth-round pick Gabe Watson is on the team, but the rest of the class isn't.
They didn't have a first-round pick -- traded to get John Abraham -- and there isn't one player left on the roster from this draft, except for backup running back Jerious Norwood. Second-round pick Jimmy Williams, the team's highest choice, was a disaster and was let go. Now we know why there was a regime change. At least Abraham has been effective and counting him, this draft avoids an F.
|Haloti Ngata was a huge draft score for the Ravens. (Getty Images)|
They surprised some by taking Donte Whitner eighth in the first round, but he's been better than expected. John McCargo, the defensive tackle they took later that round, wasn't so good. They did hit on safety Ko Simpson (fourth), defensive tackle Kyle Williams (fifth) and guard Brad Butler (fifth). They are all starters. Third-round pick Ashton Youboty hasn't panned out.
First-round pick DeAngelo Williams had his breakout season in 2008 and second-round pick Richard Marshall has been a solid corner. Tight end Jeff King, the fifth-round pick, is listed as the starting tight end, so that's good value, and third-round pick James Anderson and fifth-rounder Nate Salley are backups.
The Bears didn't have a first-round pick, traded away to Buffalo for extra picks, but they hit big on one of their second-round picks. That was return man/receiver Devin Hester. He's been a great addition. Daniel Manning, the other second-round pick, has been a solid starter. Third-round pick Dusty Dvoracek is a starting defensive tackle, although he's been bothered by injuries. Mark Anderson, taken in the fifth round, has been a nice surprise as a pass rusher.
|Johnathan Joseph helps the oft-maligned Bengals bag an A grade. (Getty Images)|
Even though first-round pick Kamerion Wimbley hasn't worked out the way the Browns had hoped, he is still a starter. But it's what they landed in other rounds that make this draft. Second-round pick D'Qwell Jackson is one of the best inside linebackers in the league. They also landed fullback Lawrence Vickers (sixth round) and backup linebacker Leon Williams (fourth) and backup running back Jerome Harrison (fifth) in this draft. The big miss was third-round receiver Travis Wilson, who is no longer on the team.
Definition of a bad draft: No starters from eight picks. That's the Dallas draft in 2006. They don't have one player on their team from this draft penciled in to start in 2009. Horrible. First-round pick Bobby Carpenter has been nothing more than a backup who has started once in a while. Second-round pick Anthony Fasano is the starting tight end in Miami. The rest of the draft is made up of backups or players long gone. It was a bad year for Jerry Jones.
Mike Shanahan made some bad personnel decisions running the Broncos, but this draft wasn't among them. He nailed it. He selected quarterback Jay Cutler in the first round and the QB proved to be a franchise-type player, even if he was traded away by the current regime. But the fourth-round picks are what make this draft. They were receiver Brandon Marshall and defensive end Elvis Dumervil. They have both been good starters. Fifth-round pick Chris Kuper is the starting left guard, while second-round pick Tony Scheffler has been a quality tight end. What a draft.
The Lions landed two starters with their first two picks in linebacker Ernie Sims and safety Daniel Bullocks. The rest of the draft brought little with only backup running back Brian Calhoun still on the roster. He was taken in the third round and hasn't been worth that. But at least Matt Millen got the first two right.
|Greg Jennings is part of a major '06 Packers draft haul. (Getty Images)|
It was an outstanding draft. Anytime you can get four quality starters, three of whom have already been to the Pro Bowl, it's a huge year. The only real miss was third-round pick Charles Spencer, and he had a bad knee injury that cut short his time in Houston.
Of the seven picks used, three will be starters in 2009. They are running back Joseph Addai (first round), guard Charley Johnson (sixth) and safety Antoine Bethea (sixth). That's a good haul, even if Addai isn't the back the Colts thought he'd become. They also got starts from second-round pick Tim Jennings and third-round pick Freddie Keiaho.
This is the Maurice Jones-Drew draft for the Jaguars. They selected him in the second round, and he's now their franchise back. They landed two other starters in tight end Marcedes Lewis (first round) and linebacker Clint Ingram (third). The other three picks that year are no longer on the roster. But the first three, especially Drew, make this a pretty good draft.
The Chiefs landed both starting safeties in this draft. Bernard Pollard came in the second, while Jarrod Page came in the seventh and was one of this year's biggest steals. First-round pick Tamba Hali has been a starter, but he hasn't lived up to the hype. Brodie Croyle was taken in the third round, but he's now a backup at best with Matt Cassel around.
Of the six players the Dolphins picked in this draft, only first-round pick Jason Allen is a starter. The biggest miss was third-round receiver Derek Hagan. None of the other players even came close to making an impact. It was a horrible draft for the previous regime, which is why Miami had to take a rebuilding path.
|Ray Edwards is one of the big reasons the Vikings earned an A. (AP)|
This wasn't a great year for the Patriots. First-round pick Laurence Maroney hasn't been what was expected. Second-round pick Chad Jackson is no longer on the roster. The only real hit came with fourth-round pick Stephen Gostkowski, the team's reliable kicker. For Bill Belichick this was an off year.
This is the Reggie Bush draft for the Saints. He hasn't lived up to expectations, but he's still a good player. They also hit on safety Roman Harper (second) and guard Jahri Evans (fourth round), both starters. But the biggest hit was seventh-round pick Marques Colston, who has been a real steal at receiver.
The Giants landed some quality players in this draft, but no stars. They did get defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka in the first round. He has been a good player. Defensive tackle Barry Cofield came in the fourth round of this draft. Sinorice Moss, the team's second-round pick, has been a disappointment at receiver. They didn't get much out of the other four picks.
The Jets had two first-round picks and both are now starting on the offensive line. One was left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, while the other was center Nick Mangold. They hit those picks, although Ferguson isn't quite what was expected. The other big hits were receiver Brad Smith (fourth round) and running back Leon Washington (fourth round). They missed on Kellen Clemens in the second round when you consider the new regime drafted Mark Sanchez this year.
This is the Michael Huff draft for the Raiders. They took him seventh overall and he hasn't come close to fulfilling those expectations. The best player from this draft is linebacker Thomas Howard, who was taken in the second round. The rest of the draft produced little if anything. It wasn't a good year for Al Davis.
|Chris Gocong and Co. make Philly draft-wise again. (Getty Images)|
Of the nine picks the Steelers made in this draft, only two started in the Super Bowl last February. One of those was top pick Santonio Holmes, the receiver who made the game-winning catch in the Super Bowl. He's a hit. The rest of the draft isn't so good. The only other starter is right tackle Willie Colon, who came in the fourth round. At least the Steelers hit with Holmes to save this draft.
This was not a good year for the Rams. Top pick Tye Hill has been a starter, but a disappointing starter. Not one of the remaining nine picks is scheduled to start this year. That includes blown picks on tight end Joe Klopfenstein (second) and Claude Wroten (third). Wroten is no longer on the team. This draft shows how a team can go bad quickly.
If you can get three starters in a draft, including both offensive tackles, it's a good one. The Chargers landed left tackle Marcus McNeil (second round) and right tackle Jeromey Clary (sixth round) in this draft. They also landed backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst and backup linebacker Tim Dobbins.
|Vernon Davis hasn't delivered much on his major potential. (Getty Images)|
First-round corner Kelly Jennings has been a sometimes starter who hasn't lived up to expectations yet. They did get good value in starting end Darryl Tapp in the second round. Fourth-round pick Rob Sims is the starting right guard, so that's real value. The rest of the draft produced little, although seventh-round pick Ben Obomanu is a backup receiver.
The Bucs landed the right side of their offensive line by taking guard Davin Joseph and tackle Jeremy Trueblood in the first and second round. That's great production. The rest of the draft didn't produce much, although third-round pick Maurice Stovall is still a backup receiver, but the rest of the class is not on the roster. They got value at the top, but little else.
The best player from their draft was seventh-round pick Cortland Finnegan. Kind of funny when you think Vince Young was their first-round pick. Is Young a bust? Not yet, but he sure isn't worth that pick. They also drafted LenDale White in the second round and he's a quality backup, not a starter. The pick of middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch in the fourth round was a good pick. He's their starting middle linebacker. Finnegan is a Pro Bowl player, which helps make this draft decent.
The Redskins didn't have a first-round pick -- traded away the year before -- so their first pick was linebacker Rocky McIntosh. He's a quality starter. They landed tackles Anthony Montgomery (fifth) and Kendric Gholston (sixth) and both have started. Sixth-round pick Reed Doughty is a backup safety.