OTR – Mario Williams

In our “On the Record” entries we ask that you go “on the record” regarding certain topics and questions.

We haven’t had time to give the NFL draft much coverage in the last couple of weeks. In this time period, Mario Williams’ stock has shot through the roof as evidenced by the fact that the Houston Texans (#1 pick) have been pre-draft contract negotiations with both Reggie Bush and Super Mario.

Despite all of the hype Mario has been getting – by the way, he looked awesome in his NC State Letterman’s jacket on ESPN’s Sportscenter feature last weekend – a few skeptics remain. None of them more extreme than ESPN’s Skip Bayless (…I know….who? This is one of those folks on ESPN2’s “Cold Pizza”. snicker. laugh.)

The following are some remarks from Bayless from this article that we wanted to put on the record:

Don’t get me wrong — Bush will be a Pro Bowl back. But Vince Young will be an MVP — especially if he’s allowed to strap his hometown team on his back and carry it into the playoffs.

But here’s the punch line in Houston: The Texans have worked so hard to talk themselves out of Young that they’re now talking themselves into North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams. Huh?

No doubt this could be a negotiating ploy. The Texans didn’t have a visit scheduled with Williams until after their first sit-down with Bush’s agent, Joel Segal, who obviously expressed some jaw-dropping contractual wishes. Still, the Texans aren’t the only team falling head-over-better-judgment in love with the 6-foot-7, 295-pound Williams.

Baaa! go the NFL sheep. If one team expresses awe over a player, others begin to see greatness that simply isn’t there.

In all my years following NFL drafts, I cannot remember a player rising so far so fast so late. Several sources say the Texans’ fascination with Williams goes beyond merely threatening to take him if Segal won’t ease off his demands. The Texans are genuinely considering him.

Mario Williams doesn’t belong in the same paragraph with Vince Young.

The best thing Williams has going for him is that Julius Peppers played down Tobacco Road at North Carolina, and Williams and Peppers have one thing in common. They’re both basketball tall. That’s about it.

Otherwise, Williams doesn’t belong in the same zip code with Peppers. When I watched Peppers in college, he jumped off my screen. When I watched Williams’ 7-5 NC State team, he didn’t once catch my eye.

An independent NFL scout who was assigned to three NC State games told me: “If they hadn’t told me to watch Williams, I wouldn’t have noticed him.”

This new emperor doesn’t have nearly enough clothes to go in the first five picks, let alone No. 1.

I’m predicting that Mario goes #2 in the draft. I also predict that he will have one of the best two or three seasons of an NFL defensive rookie that ultimately is comparably strong to the best performances of recent rookie defensive ends (Peppers, Will Smith, etc). Within 3 to 5 years, I also predict that Williams will become a pro bowl regular and will have risen to the status of one of the best two or three defensive ends in the NFL.

I’m on the record with Bayless.