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 second segment, Texans head coach Gary Kubiak sits down with Drew Dougherty of Texans TV to evaluate the team's 2010 draft class, including first-round draft pick Kareem Jackson.
Drew Dougherty: What's your first impression of this class as a whole?
Gary Kubiak: Well first off, it's great to get nine. I think the way Rick (Smith) worked the draft, he moved around a little bit. Moved back. Moved up. Ended up getting us a few extra players. Really, that's what it's about right now for us. We've got, in our minds, a starting corner that we'll put to work right away. After that we've got eight draft choices that are going to have an excellent opportunity to help this football team very quickly. So that's where we're at as a team and I think our players will be very excited with the group we're bringing in, and they can't wait to get started with them.
Dougherty: You've added a lot of weapons to an already potent offense. What might Ben Tate change in the run game, and open up in the passing game.
Kubiak: First of all, let me see if I can remember all five of them, we have so many now. Ben is a big kid. We're looking for a big, physical runner. That's something that we really don't have. He's a 220 (pound) kid. But yet, he's (got a time of) 4.4 (seconds in the 40-yard dash). He has a chance to make big plays. We really liked our interview with him. The way he talked he talked football. We think we can make quick progress with him.
Dougherty: When you say that about his interview, what sort of stuff did he say to impress you?
Kubiak: When you're interviewing kids and you start talking football, you start talking about pass protection, you start talking about reads and stuff like that, you can find out real quick if somebody's way behind you, or if they can catch up pretty quick. This kid talks our language. He'll catch up mentally in the National Football League real quick, which makes his talent come out a lot quicker, so we feel good about him from that standpoint. Our next one, the tight end, we've obviously been very lucky with Wisconsin tight ends.
Dougherty: Garrett Graham looks like a player.
Kubiak: We really like this young man. A captain. Just a great kid. Played a lot of good football there at Wisconsin. Owen (Daniels) spoke up for him, so that was good enough for me. So there's an excellent opportunity for him right now with our team, because some of our guys are fixing to miss some time as we go through the offseason. So that's an issue right there.
Dougherty: One more thing about Ben Tate: might playing in all those different offensive systems at Auburn have masked how great he really is, and how great he could be?
Kubiak: I think it obviously was a little frustrating for him when we talked to him. This year he settles down, touches the ball a lot more. Obviously with what they were doing he was real comfortable with it. Anytime you gain 1,200 yards playing in the SEC, you're a good football player. We know we're getting a talent and we just feel great about getting him. We have a need for a guy to come in and step up and push the guys we have and get on the field quick and help us win. So we plan on putting Ben to work very quickly.
Dougherty: You said Trindon Holliday will return kicks and punts for you and has a chance to flip the field. But where else might he someday contribute to the team?
Kubiak: I think we could work him as a running back, because he's done some of that at LSU. You can move him around as a receiver, so there's some things you can do. But the way that he's got a chance to help this team initially and change the game for us is to return punts and kicks. So we're going to let him do what he does best and then let him go from there. He's a very fast young man. As far as (Dorin) Dickerson, it's been mentioned that he's a tight end. But Drew, we see him strictly as a wide receiver. When I drafted him I told him on the phone 'Son, you're a wide receiver and you're fixing to line up behind one of the best in the game, and I think you've got a chance to be an excellent player.' So he knows where we stand from that standpoint. Adding Shelley Smith at guard, he's a young man that I know. So we were fortunate from that standpoint with some late draft picks out that school. But I think this kid has some versatility at guard, at center. Very smart, very athletic. We're going to be very competitive as an offensive line when we go to camp, trying to figure out who the best five are.
Dougherty: What sor t of impact, short-term and long-term, is possible with Earl Mitchell?
Kubiak: I think one of the biggest improvements we made on defense was the effort of our defensive line, week in and week out in how they played. We watched Earl play in college, and that's what he's all about. He's one hundred percent every play. He'll come in and fit in with that attitude and bring even more energy to what we're doing, so we think he's got an excellent opportunity. Then, our linebacker Sharpton is out of Miami. Miami turns out good football players and this kid we think can play all three spots. He's very, very smart. He can be a special teams guy and he loves to hit. That's what we need around here.