NFL Draft 2011: Why the Carolina Panthers Should Take a Lesson from 2006

Joseph BrunoCorrespondent IApril 18, 2011

NEW YORK - APRIL 28:   Mario Williams and Vince Young joke around during the NFL Draft Preview on April 28, 2006 at Winter Garden in the World Financial Center in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Brown/Getty Images)
Michael Brown/Getty Images

The big story of the 2006 NFL draft was who the Houston Texans were going to take with the No. 1 overall pick.

Would they go with the consensus No. 1 prospect in Reggie Bush?

The hybrid, do-everything quarterback in Vince Young?

The typical pocket-passing quarterback in Matt Leinart?

Or the defensive lineman in Mario Williams?

Although undersized for an every-down running back, Reggie Bush had great speed, quickness and return abilities and was the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.

Vince Young was coming off back-to-back MVP Rose Bowl performances and was seen as a premier dual-treat quarterback.  

If Matt Leinart had not gone back for his senior season, he would have been the consensus No. 1 pick over Alex Smith in the 2005 draft. Leinart did not have a strong arm; however, he won the 2004 Heisman Trophy and was perceived as a prototypical NFL quarterback.

Mario Williams was seen as an elite defensive line prospect who possessed great athleticism and ability to get to the quarterback. However, he was seen to still have to develop a bit.

As we all know, the Texans made Williams the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 draft, and most, including me, thought they had made a mistake.

For me personally, I thought Bush was a once-in-a-lifetime prospect who the Texans should have run to the podium with as their pick.

Bush was selected second by the New Orleans Saints, Young third by the Tennessee Titans and Leinart went 10th to the Arizona Cardinals.

Young won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2006, and he has been to two Pro Bowls in his career to this point.

Bush helped the Saints get to the NFC Championship Game in his rookie season as a triple threat—rushing, receiving and returning kicks.

Leinart started 11 games in his first season with the Cardinals and set a rookie passing record with 405 yards in a loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Now, Leinart was a backup with the Texans in 2010, and Young was benched and the Titans reportedly plan to trade him at this point. While Bush has not been terrible, he has not lived up to the expectations we all set for him when he was drafted.

Williams’ rookie year was nothing special with only 4.5 sacks. However, he has registered 43.5 sacks in the four seasons since and is considered one of the better pass rushers in the league.

So how does all of this apply to the Carolina Panthers?

Well, the Panthers currently have the No. 1 overall pick, and most think they are deciding between the consensus No. 1 prospect in Patrick Peterson.

The hybrid, do-everything quarterback in Cam Newton.

The typical pocket-passing quarterback in Blaine Gabbert.

Or the defensive lineman in Marcell Dareus.

Although I was for Houston picking Reggie Bush over Mario Williams, I have to admit that the Texans probably made the right decision.

Now the Panthers have almost an identical decision to make in the 2011 draft, and Cam Newton seems like the leading candidate at this point.

Newton may end up being great, or he may end up being a bust. Who knows? However, should the Panthers take that chance?

Or should they go with Marcell Dareus, who has the potential to be a great, solid pick to anchor their defense?

If it were only between Dareus and Newton, I would go with Dareus and then grab a quarterback later in the draft.

That said, I think Patrick Peterson is the best player in the draft and should be the No. 1 pick over anyone. Then again, maybe the Panthers would be better off mimicking the 2006 Houston Texans.