** Texans general manager Charley Casserly
(opening statement)** "The status of our first pick is like this: we're negotiating with two players. We're negotiating with Reggie Bush and Mario Williams. We arrived at this decision a short time back; these are the two players that we would pick from to make our first-round pick. In regards to Vince Young, what we said from the beginning is that when we hired a new coach he would evaluate David Carr and make a decision on the eight-million-dollar buy-back bonus. We made that decision to keep David Carr at that time.
"The next part of the process was to evaluate the draft prospects. It didn't make any sense to draft a quarterback with our first pick or pick another position. After evaluating the quarterbacks in this draft, and part of the evaluation process is the workouts in the spring and the interviews, we came to the conclusion that to draft a quarterback – whether it be Vince Young, Matt Leinart or Jay Cutler – was not the best thing for this football team. The best thing for this football team was to use the first pick in this draft to add a premier player at another position. Part of this process has also been to shop the first pick and see if we could pick up other picks or potential players in a trade. Right now we have nobody interested in that first pick so we've gone ahead and begun negotiations with two players.
"I've said all along that we're not going to negotiate in the press and we're not going to negotiate in the press. As far as what each negotiation is, that is something that just like we've done with our other first-round picks, we've never discussed publicly. What I've said is that we have negotiations ongoing with two people right now, Mario Williams and Reggie Bush."
(on if negotiations influence the pick) "It could bear into the decision if we do reach an agreement with one player and don't reach an agreement with another."
(on if money is deciding factor on who is selected) "It's not money; its signability. We're going to spend money on either player. We're not saying we're taking the player that costs the least; we're talking about signability. If a player reaches an agreement that could have an effect on our decision; if both reach an agreement then obviously you've got agreed to. The reason you want to try to get an agreement is that no one wants a player that is out of training camp and missing time. Obviously, use the advantage you have within the system and the rules to negotiate before the draft."
(on if both players are rated equally) "Yes we do."
(on if it's more difficult to deal with Reggie Bush) "That is getting into commenting on negotiations and I'd rather not do that."
(on if the new Collective Bargaining Agreement affects negotiations) "The CBA can affect the comparisons between certain parts of the contract of this year and last year. But there is enough flexibility in the CBA and in the rookie rules to get the player his money. Let's face it, there is a team picking behind us and everybody is going to have the same situation, the agents are going to have the same situations to deal with. At the end of the day all of their players are going to get signed and they are all going to make more money than the players last year. There are some things that you have to work with in the system, but at the end of the day it should not hold up any deal."
(on if Alex Smith's deal makes it hard for other players) "The last five players taken at number one, starting in 2001, have all been quarterbacks. I don't think you have a realistic comparison until you go back to 2000. So that is part of your answer and I'm not going to answer the rest of your question because I'm not going to comment on negotiations."
(on Mario Williams) "I think that if Reggie Bush wasn't in this draft, Mario Williams would be head and shoulders the first pick in this draft. What you have is a player who is a pass rusher with unique size and speed for the position. He's almost 6'7" and runs a 4.7. Vertical jump is exactly the same as Reggie Bush and he's 90 pounds heavier. I think his frame is such that he'll be 300, 310 before it's all said and done. He's got long arms and he can play all four positions across the line. In other words he can play left end, left tackle, right tackle and right end. He gives you tremendous flexibility there. He's been productive. He has I think 25 sacks over the last two years combined, which is pretty good production at the level of competition he's playing, which is the highest level there is in college football. When you look at all that and you start comparing defensive linemen of previous drafts and you start 'who's he better than? Or who's better than him?' You don't find a lot of names better than him. Personally, when I scouted Julius Peppers and I've scouted him, I have him rated higher than Julius Peppers and that is my opinion."
(on if Texans are considering any other players for the first pick)"Our first pick will be one of these two players, even if they're not signed."
(on a cutoff point for negotiations) "We haven't made that decision yet."
(on chances of a trade still happening) "Not really optimistic about it. We're sitting here today and it's Wednesday at noon and we don't have a trade offer. It's not because we haven't called people. Monday morning I called teams behind us and I wont tell you who I called or where I stopped, but you can obviously figure I called teams immediately behind us and I'm not going to tell you where I stopped and there was no interest. And that was not my first phone call to them; that was just my latest."
(on why there is no interest) "I think you have a combination of things. You have a number of good players and if you're satisfied with the quality of player that you're going to get at your pick, why give up something else? And I think that is what it really comes down to. There are a lot of good players at the top of this draft and there is no one player that people absolutely have to have that is so much better than the player that is going to fall to them that they are willing to make a trade, and I think that is a factor. On the quarterback position, clearly there are three quarterbacks that people are discussing and I'm not so sure, even though the majority of them have one as number one. I don't know what the differences they feel between one, two and three are that they couldn't take any of them and feel comfortable about it. The quarterback ratings being fairly even to the fact that there are a number of real good players at the top of this draft, I think ironically that diminishes the value of the pick as far as a trade."
(on CBA putting constraints on signing bonuses) "It will put some constraints on what initially is guaranteed money. As I alluded to before, there is enough flexibility in the CBA to make up for that, and somebody looking at this with a common sense approach will say that this person got 'X' guaranteed money over the length of the contract. Remember now, the team behind us has even more constraints because they have a smaller rookie pool than us, so everybody is going to fight the same problem."
(on second and third round picks) "Obviously I'm not going to tell you what the positions are, but you're always going to want to take the best player available and if you have three or four players rated all same, you're going to take the one that is necessary for the need. You are going to look into trades. Every time we come into the second round, we're going to talk about 'Is there a player we want to trade up for? Is there a group of players together that we're happy with that we're willing to trade back and stockpile picks?' We're going to take the best player available. We have enough needs. We did a good job in free agency, our staff did, to help us make a better football team. But we still have areas where we can use depth: the offensive line, tight end, wide receiver. Obviously, we can use some depth at running back. We can use depth in the defensive line, especially defensive end. We can use depth at linebacker. We can use a corner and another safety. It won't be hard for players that we pick go come in and contribute this year."
(on the safeties) "I think there is some good depth. I don't think its necessarily deep deep, but I think there is a group of players in each round that you are interested in. It's kind of one of those depths, in other words, whereas in some positions it might fall off dramatically after the first round, I think at safety you can keep coming up every round and find someone you like."
(on if quality pass rushers will fall past the first round) "I think there could be. Not a lot, but I think there could be."
(on possibility of trading veteran defensive tackles for a pick) "I wouldn't discuss trading one of our players in public. If we were going to make a trade that is not something we would ever talk about."
(on the value of not talking about picks)"The majority of our time is spent. We have the top pick in the second round, what is going to be there? The more we know about what people are saying, that gives us at least positions that we know are going to get eaten up and that puts us in a block position with players and their positions. Then we look at who those players are on our board compared with what is going to be there. That helps us consolidate our time in our meetings as to what we have to do. As you go through this, we have two picks in the third round and what we're trying to do is figure out what every team in the league is trying or wants to get accomplished in the draft. Once they take their first pick that is one objective done. So now, what do they take with their second pick? That gives us an idea of as we're sitting there; do we need to move up into the end of the second? Or, if we want to move back, those teams at the top of third, what have they done and what do they need to do? And here it is on our board. And what is our percentage that we go back to the 10 th pick in the third round that one of these players we have is available? That is the value in not saying anything."
(on dealing with the pressure to draft Vince Young) "It probably has been unprecedented. I think that is an accurate statement in the league. People have asked me to think of a comparable situation and I can't think of one. Vince Young is a heck of a football player, he's a heck of a young man and he's a joy to watch as a football player. I understand fans' passion. If I was a fan I would root for Vince Young. I would root for Reggie Bush, too. He's pretty exciting. But Vince is a hometown guy and I can understand that and I can understand what he did for the University of Texas and what he did for Madison High School. So you can understand where the fans are coming from, you understand that and it's all logical. But when you're on this side of the table the only thing that counts is winning. You've got to do what you think is the best way to win, so you have to eliminate all of those outside influences, you absolutely have to. At the end of the day, all anybody cares about is the score on Sunday and that is the only thing people are going to remember as you go on. That is why people love Vince Young; they think that he is the right decision to win the most games. We didn't think it was the right decision to win the most games for us. We can't let ourselves be influenced by public pressure, you can never do that, because public pressure can sway, we all know that. So let's just make what we think is the beset decision for the team and make it in a logical and deliberate way like we've always done and then move forward."
(on being ready for the negativity if Texans draft Mario Williams until he proves himself) "If that happens, then I'll be the first one to defend Mario Williams. What people should understand is that if we take Mario Williams and if somebody doesn't like it then I'm right here, I'm the guy to yell at, nobody else. There is nobody to yell at except me, not Mario Williams. Boo me, not Mario Williams."
(on Mario Williams vs. AJ Hawk) "AJ Hawk is a tremendous player, but I think what you get into a little bit here, is a defensive end versus a middle linebacker. I think that in our defense, we would value the defensive end over the middle linebacker. At some point you have to make decisions, and having the first pick is an advantage because there is nobody in front of you so you narrow it to one or two players and go, and at the end of the day you take the defensive end over the middle linebacker and that is why Hawk is not with Mario Williams in this discussion for us. We clearly think they are both great players."
(on possibly moving Anthony Weaver to accommodate Williams) "It's a good question, but I would rather not answer it at this point. We've had internal discussions and if we're going to move people around, I think that should be done with the players first before we do it publicly. The first part of your question on Mario Williams: he flipped in their system, he played left and he played right. I've seen him play in different positions. I don't think there is any issue or any position that he can't play on that defensive line."
(on the evaluation process for the number one pick) "The same process to evaluate Mario Williams and Reggie Bush is the same process to evaluate any other player in the draft. The scouts scout the player and the position coach and the coordinator and Gary (Kubiak) study the player. We go into a room and the scouts talk about their reports, we talk about the spring workout, the coaches go over their reports and Gary gives his opinion. We also look at tape of the player. Almost all of these players I've written a report on, too, and we've scouted them. I saw Mario Williams in the fall and I saw Reggie Bush in the fall. I usually wait until the end and give my report because I'm more interested in what everyone else has to say about it, because I already know what I think on the player. That is basically what we do. As far as Bob McNair goes, Bob does not enter into the decision-making process; he says 'Hey I'm not a scout'. He will sit in a lot of times and listen because he's interested and he should sit in. I've always said to Bob from day one, 'You need to know how we're spending your money, so sit in the meetings'. Bob does and Bob will ask intelligent questions. He's seen tape on all the top players, which is no different than when we drafted David Carr. I wanted him to meet David Carr and here is what David Carr is, this is the guy that we want to take and he'll always say take the player you and the coach thinks is best for our football team and let's go. He'll support us on signing the player which is critical in the operation."
(on if owner Bob McNair asked about possibly taking Vince Young) "No, his point from day one is that he wants us to do what is best for the football team. We do not live in an isolated arena here; although we don't spend a lot of time outside of the stadium, we're aware of what fans think, personally I am and I know Gary is too. Bob said, 'Explain to me Vince Young as opposed to David Carr.' Absolutely we had that discussion. And, "Explain to me Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler. Why would we go with David Carr versus this player?' We explained it and he supported it."
(on possibility of Young being successful in five years in Tennessee) "You can't worry about where a player goes. I hope they are concerned about the player we take; they are going to take a great player whether it be Vince Young or Matt Leinart or anybody else. They are going to improve their football team and we're going to improve our football team, too."
(on doing things to deliberately mislead about picks) "There can be. Mostly it's non-communication, but sometimes there can be people misleading things. But mostly non-communication is what I find."
(on negotiating with two draft picks helping with negotiations) "I think you would have to, in all honesty, ask the other side when it's all over if that affected their thought process. I really couldn't answer that question."
(on the offensive linemen in the draft) "Normally there are not a lot of centers. There are some good ones, but there are not a lot but that is normal. I think there are some good offensive guards and I think there are some good offensive tackles. Clearly (D'Brickashaw) Ferguson is an outstanding prospect, one of the best offensive tackles to come out that I can remember in recent years. There is pretty good depth along the offensive line. I don't think it reaches deep into the draft though, I think the depth is more on the first day."
(on an offensive linemen being available for the second pick of the Texans) "I think there is a chance there could be a good offensive linemen there, yes."
(on spending a lot of time on the first and not looking at others) "That is an excellent question from the point of view that you've got to make sure you don't do that. You're kind of weighing and you've got to pick a number one pick, which certainly is important, but you've got a whole other draft to run and we've got to get players out of those other positions in the draft. We have spent more time on this. The David Carr decision was almost no time. There was no time in draft meetings on David Carr, and we were able to make that decision long before our draft meetings. We had spent time on our other selections at that point in time. We have spent a lot more time on this one. Plus you have a negotiation going on too. David Carr's negotiations were done a month before the draft and it was a simple negotiation. We have spent a lot of time on it and we're where I want to be right now time wise. We've had a good set of meetings we've just had to work longer hours, that's all."
(on too much time to analyze) "From my side of the table the answer is no because you can't ever digest all of the information that is available to you. What you have to be careful of is don't overanalyze things. I don't think we do. There is never enough time because you can't look at everything that is out there, you have to always cut it down and get it into a block of time because there is so much to look at."
(on comparing Reggie Bush to players) "It's hard to do. I just think because of style and size. Clearly he is one of the best backs I have ever scouted. I've tried to do that. (Julius) Peppers was easy because he's a defensive end and he came out recently and that is kind of simple. This one, and I don't want to say that he's better than anybody I've ever scouted, I'm just saying that he's a unique guy that is a great player that I think will be a great player in the league and I can't pick a specific thing. I also don't think it's fair because I've seen some names compared to Reggie Bush. I don't think that is fair to a young man coming in, let him come in and play. He'll establish his own comparison."
(on who is handling negotiations with Bush and Williams)"Dan Ferens handles the day-to-day conversations and we meet with Bob (McNair) at the end of every day to discuss numbers and strategy."
(on having a new coaching staff and having another perspective) "Anytime you have a new staff there is an adjustment period you have to go through and learn how they think and you have to match your thinking to theirs because your job is to get players to fit their system. But certainly it's always exciting when you go through the new concepts they bring to you as far as systems and things like that. I think Gary (Kubiak) and his staff have done an outstanding job in preparing for this draft and we're excited to say the least about us going forward with this coaching stuff. I think it's a terrific coaching staff and I think they'll do a tremendous job."
(on if Reggie Bush's housing situation plays a role in a decision) "No, it's not going to play a role in what we do. I've talked to Reggie and I've talked to his mom. We have not found anything in this to let it influence our decision, which it's not going to influence our decision. We're going to pick the best player. We've researched these two young men; I think they are outstanding young men and I think both of them will be a credit to this organization and this city."