For the second consecutive year, HoustonTexans.com is offering fans exclusive one-on-one interviews with key figures in the Texans' NFL draft process in our "Draft Pass" series.
In the fifth segment, Texans defensive coordinator Frank Bush talks with Drew Dougherty of Texans TV about the newest additions to the Houston defense.
Drew Dougherty: How might cornerback Kareem Jackson impact the pass rush?
Frank Bush: I think he can do a tremendous job making their job easier. He'll cover some guys up. He'll make that quarterback hold the ball, and now Mario (Williams) has a chance to turn the corner, Connor (Barwin) has a chance to go get to the quarterback, and even the guys inside like Antonio (Smith) and Amobi (Okoye) have a little bit of extra time to go get after the quarterback.
Dougherty: What stood out to you most of all when you got to talk to him in the run up to the draft?
Bush: The maturity level. He's a very level-headed kid. He seemed mature in his football knowledge. He was a tough kid. But more than all he just seemed to have a very mature presence about himself. He was very calm, he understood the questions, he understood football really well, and we couldn't seem to get him on any of the normal things we get a rookie on. We liked his maturity level.
Dougherty: How often are you able to trip up rookies like that? Is there a percentage you can put on it?
Bush: Not so much a percentage. We have some questions that we kind of mold and shape, and try to trip them up certain ways. But this guy had a really good knowledge of the game. He understood the full picture, not just his particular position. He was an extremely smart guy that seemed to understand the big picture and we liked that part about him.
Dougherty: Another guy you all obviously liked was third round defensive tackle Earl Mitchell. He's intriguing because he played offense for some of his college career at Arizona. How attractive was that to you all?
Bush: Really, very attractive. First of all, he's a heck of an athlete. The kid played running back and tight end in high school. You can see flashes of that in his play, when you see him play. He's very passionate. He's a tough guy. He plays with his ears pinned back. He plays with a lot of emotion. So we liked that part. But the fact that he played different positions, that he's kind of honed his skills in different areas is exciting because he can't play just one position in the National Football League. He's going to have to back up a couple of spots inside. So we're excited that he's got some experience doing a lot of different things.
Dougherty: What sort of stuff have you talked about with him, post-draft?
Bush: We talked to him, of course, right away. He was extremely excited. His family was excited. They're right here in Houston, so they were all fired up. We chit-chatted about the expectations. What we expect from him. How excited we were to have him. He's going to have a chance to come back home and do some things at home. He was extremely excited. He's always been a Texans fan and he's excited about getting back home.
Dougherty: What's the first word that comes to mind when you think of Darryl Sharpton?
Bush: Toughness. He played at Miami. They have a tendency to produce a lot of good linebackers. So we saw toughness. We know he's an extremely tough kid. He's a bright kid. He played extremely fast. He would hit you. He would show cover skills. We just see toughness in that kid.
Dougherty: He blends in nicely with that linebacking corps you've got right now, right?
Bush: Right, he does. He's going to be able to play multiple spots for us. We'll put him at our weakside linebacker to start, but he can play multiple spots. He was a guy that kind of ran their defense there. We like that about him. We have DeMeco, he runs our defense, but you add another smart player in that mix, it really ups the competition. And again the toughness is going to help us on special teams.
Dougherty: You mentioned toughness, you mentioned smarts. You've got to be smart to go to Northwestern; that's where Sherrick McManis, the corner you take later in the draft went. He had five picks last year. They call him a shutdown corner when you read about him. How true is that, first of all, and he was kind of a big game player for them at times, wasn't he?
Bush:Yeah, we're excited about him. He had some nicks and bruises coming into the draft and there were some question marks, but David Gibbs and Perry Carter did an excellent job of really researching the kid and finding all of his good plays. We got a chance to see him when he was playing at his best. We trusted what our medical people were saying about him, so we're really confident that he's going to come back and come on strong. Yeah, we did see a kid that could shut down people. We saw a kid that could play aggressive. He challenged receivers. We didn't see a lot of people go on top of him. He was running stride for stride downfield. And again, the thing that we try to measure guys by is toughness. We saw that, and he has playmaking ability.
Dougherty:Some might assume, 'Oh, the draft's over, you've got a few months 'til training camp, so Frank Bush is kicking back, playing golf, taking it easy.' That's not the case. You're actually having a lot of fun. Tell us what you're doing these days.
Bush:Right, well, we've started to get our players in and kind of group them up and starting to meet, kind of looking over some things from last year and also starting to talk about the new things we want to do this year. And it's exciting because we get to see all of our players again. We get a chance to get kind of hands on, coach them up again. We start to get the intensity level going again as far as what we're going to ask them to do. Hopefully, we can get them on the grass and go through some drills and whatnot. So we're excited. Again, it's excited for us to go coach, and that's what we want to go do.