Draft starts early: Texans to take Williams

Houston Texans general manager Charley Casserly discusses the stunning events of Friday when the Texans reached a signed agreement on a six-year contract with North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams with the intention of selecting him with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft on Saturday morning. "Obviously, we're excited about it," Casserly said. "It's a decision that took us a lot of time to make, but at the end of the day, we felt this was the best player for our football team."

Here are excerpts from Friday's news conference regarding Houston's bold move to opt for Williams over USC running back Reggie Bush with the first pick of the draft:

On why the Texans decided on Williams: "Dan Ferens, our negotiator, who did a great job with us by the way, started on Monday negotiating with both sides. We said we would come to a decision at some point this week. Yesterday we made the decision let's go to Mario Williams. If we can get Mario Williams signed, then we're going to take him. That was the directive that we gave his agent. In the last 24 hours we were able to close a deal and it's a good deal for both sides. But, Mario Williams was going to be our first choice in this draft."

On signability being an issue: "Not at all. We were confident we could reach a deal with Reggie Bush too."

On what put Williams over the top: "We decided to go with defense as opposed to offense. Our pass rush hasn't been what it needs to be. Mario Williams can give you a pass rush from the defensive end position and the defensive tackle position. He can play all four defensive line positions. We think Mario is a guy that will still continue to grow physically, he's 290 now and he'll play at over 300 pounds. He's fast, he's quick, and he's athletic. The guy, in our opinion, is a natural pass rusher and can play the run."

On not letting pressure play a role in selecting Williams: "I think obviously the Vince Young popularity here is understandable and I can understand Reggie Bush. But I think if people had just listened to what we had said, they would have seen that we were serious about Mario Williams. When we brought Mario Williams in here for a visit, and we were serious about Mario Williams long before that, it's just we were never going to tell anybody that. We weren't going to deny it, but nobody asked the question and I understand why they wouldn't ask the question early on. But once we brought him in here our statements never changed that we were seriously considering him for the first pick in the draft and I understand that people didn't believe it, but we always said it and we believed it."

On the deal: "The deal is six years, 54 million dollars, 26.5 is guaranteed."

On the off-the-field controversy with Bush affecting the decision: "Absolutely not. We believe in Reggie Bush as a person. We asked him and his attorney the different allegations and both of the denied them. Both of them said that Reggie didn't do anything wrong so we obviously took him at his word which is what we should do. But none of that had anything to do with that. We told them this was strictly a football decision. We wanted to get a defensive end."

On winning over-riding everything: "Winning overrides everything. We have to win games. And let me say this, we think Mario Williams is going to be a terrific player in this league, but one player doesn't win a game and a championship, you have to have a team. We have to add more players in the draft tomorrow, which we will, they will be good players and they will help this football team to go with the players we got in the offseason. I think we had a great offseason but we're building a football team here to win and one player is only a part of the team. Andre Johnson is one part of the puzzle; David Carr is part of the puzzle."

On the statement that this signing makes about the team's confidence in running back Domanick Davis: "It's something that probably wasn't talked enough about in the process — outside the building; it was talked about in the building — we have a young man here who, in three years here has averaged 1,000 yards a year. Now, he's coming off a knee injury, but the bottom line is he's going to be here and he's going to play, so you've got a player already there that's proven. We're going to the 4-3 defense. We didn't have any defensive ends when we came into the offseason, so we added Anthony Weaver. We add Mario Williams. Now, our coaches will figure out what our best combination is. We're going to get all our best players on the field. Antwan Peek's still going to be on the field. So we're going to find a way to get our best combination, but it was clearly a position of greater need than running back on our team."

On what he saw in Williams: "What I liked about the guy, I saw the guy play Florida State during the season; I had watched tape on him at that point; I watched subsequent tape after the season was over, and I saw a guy who was the same in every tape I watched. The guy was a factor. The guy got off the ball quick. He pressured the quarterback. He's strong at the point of attack. He pursued and made plays sideline to sideline. He had flexibility to play every one of the positions (on the defensive line). I saw a guy that was a factor in ball games."

"When I went ahead and projected him ahead to our league, I thought the guy had an upside. He's still a young guy, he's still learning how to play, and he was going to get bigger, so this is a guy that to me personally — and all our people did — from the first tape I looked at him, I thought the guy was going to be an excellent prospect. One of the things in watching him, I didn't know how big he was. I'm watching tape and I thought he was 265 pounds. And at that point, we're in a 3-4 defense and I'm thinking, ‘Can this guy play linebacker?' Then I looked at the program and he was 290. Honestly, I thought the guy was about 260 when I watched him. That's how good of an athlete he was."

"Now let me say this about the young man: this is a guy that, I don't like to compare players, but I made a statement that this guy is Andre Johnson. This guy is a great human being, a great worker who loves football. There are not many people I compare Andre Johnson to as a person, and I think that's what you have here. I think this guy will come in here and be focused on one thing—playing football. And I think that's important."


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