From the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain :

In a stunning move that will reverberate through the first round of Saturday’s NFL draft, the Texans have signed North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams to a contract, meaning he’ll be the first player selected.

The contract is for five years with an option year at a total of almost $54 million, with almost $26.5 million guaranteed.

Williams, 6-7, 295, had an exceptional performance at the Indianapolis scouting combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.70, bench pressing 225 pounds 35 times and having a vertical leap of 40 inches.

Although the Texans said the controversy involving Bush and his parents’ living arrangements in San Diego had nothing to do with their decision, they intensified negotiations with Dogra on Thursday and worked all day today to complete the deal.

Williams’ best position is left end, but the Texans gave Baltimore free agent Anthony Weaver a $12.5 million signing bonus to play that position. Williams will play right end, probably forcing Antwan Peek their best pass rusher back to outside linebacker.

As the debate continues over which of the top rated QB’s available in tomorrow’s draft represents the best bet for pro success, Joe Montana casts his vote for Vince Young ( :

“I think he’s a step above the other two,” said Montana, who was in the Triangle to discuss hypertension awareness and his health-outreach program, BP Success Zone. “I can’t see anyone being much better than Vince all around.”

The four-time Super Bowl champion and three-time Super Bowl MVP said there was a time black quarterbacks such as Young might not have been drafted to play quarterback at all, instead being converted to wideout or defensive back.

“Before, if you had an African- American on your team, he usually was the best athlete and you wanted him to have the ball all the time,” Montana said, adding that teams’ position needs, not prejudice, might have caused the uncertainty about where Young might be drafted.

The Boston Globe’s Mike Reiss reports that the Patriots, in addition to the Broncos, are keen on acquiring Javon Walker from Green Bay.

In somewhat less scintillating news, the Vikings have introduced new uniforms for the 2006 season. Sadly, we’ll never get to see Daunte Culpepper in the new purple pants.