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Over the course of this series, I've twice changed my mind for the big winner of "Worst Draft Pick in Houston Texans' History." What settled the decision for me came down not to the price paid, but to production.
I remember exactly where I was when this trade/pick went down. I was in a bar in Philadelphia, and I'm quite sure my love of Philly is shared by few. For a couple years on business travel, I'd seen and had the same waitress/bartender at a certain bar. She remembered I was from Austin, and she was pretty darn used to drunken jerks like me.
At pick 16 in 2004, the Iggles traded a ton to select one Shawn Andrews, which caused the bar to pretty much explode. Back then, I was watching quite a bit of football, and I assured the bar that, hey, this pick wasn't so bad. Before Andrews kind of broke down mentally, I considered him to be a pretty good player.
A little later, your Houston Texans traded the rest of their 2004 draft for one Mr. Jason Babin. The barkeep, a very cute but obviously veteran lass, looked at me with shock and awe. She then laid out a whisky shot and beer for me. On the house. In the three years I'd seen her, she'd barely said as much as "thank you" or "you're welcome," much less bought me a drink. I loved her that way (not really), but the trade was just that bad. A few minutes later, she offered another shot. True story. I am thankful I could walk back to the hotel...at 5 in the afternoon.
Say what you will about Jason Babin, and I can say plenty that will easily offend his overly defensive father, but Babin at least occasionally produced. Was Jason Babin and a 5th Rounder worth 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Round picks? Oh, heck no. Could Jason Babin spell cat even if you spotted him the C and the A? All signs point to doubtful. However, the man did have 13 sacks in a Texans uniform, so Babin comes in second place.
Babin's rookie season in 2004 really wasn't so bad. Sure, he was a purely one-dimensional player, only able to get up-field. Coming from Western Michigan, it wasn't a surprise he had a less subtle techniques getting to the QB than DreKeem has with the women-folk. Alas, Charley Casserly traded the house to get Babin, who largely turned out to be a workout warrior versus an actual football player.
In 2005, Babin regressed worse than my hairline. In 2006, Babin could do nothing but rush the passer, and he had to be protected against all but the most strikingly obvious passing downs. This was also the year the infamous Richard Smith took over Defensive Coordinator duties. Babin was a pure rushing linebacker, offering literally nothing more. He couldn't shed blocks, couldn't figure out the system, and lacked athleticism. Babin is purely a straight-line player, which would be great if this was a 100m dash. With the move from the 3-4 to the 4-3, it was obvious Babin was on the way out. Babin was traded to the Seattle Seahawks for the mighty Michael Boulware on September 1, 2007. Both teams still regret the transaction.
For the next couple of years, Babin floated around the league like so much jetsam. In 2010, Babin suddenly decided to play football. That's enough said about that.
By virtue of the Texans trading down with the...oh, come on, you know I'm not going to say the real name...with the BE-SFs, the BE-SFs drafted Ben Troupe, Randy Starks, and Bo Schobel. Starks, of course, would've been a tremendous upgrade on our defensive line.
As Shake roughly mentioned via text, it's one thing to think you're building for a run at a playoff spot when you're 7-9 as in the 2005 draft. It's another thing to think you're going to compete after going 5-11. The Babin trade was beyond short-sighted. To give up so much for so little is a trade you make to get to the Super Bowl. It's not a trade to make when you're in a talent accumulation phase. Babin's single-stream performance, effective only at getting to the QB, and not being so swell at that, makes his selection that much worse.
Next three picks after Babin: Chris Gamble, Carolina Panthers; Michael Jenkins, Atlanta Falcons; Kevin Jones, Detroit Lions.
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