How about the first? I read some sentences as to the structure of "as+adjective+noun+as", interestingly in which the subjects and the nouns after the second "as"(s) are in the same form. For examples,
1 Halting new deforestation, experts say, is as powerful a way to combat warming asclosing the world’s coal plants.
2 The pest could pose as big a threat to cotton farming in the South as the beetle that devastated the industry in the early 20th century.
These examples are taken from the NYT. As we see, the second structure parallels the first. That's why I wonder if the origianl first sounds fine to your native ears.