Assessing the Texans' 2009 draft

So here's how the Texans' 2009 draft class came together:
1(15): LB Brian Cushing, USC
2(46): DE Connor Barwin, Cincinnati
3(77): C Antoine Caldwell, Alabama
4(112): CB Glover Quin, New Mexico
4(122): TE Anthony Hill, North Carolina State
5(152): TE James Casey, Rice
6(188): CB Brice McCain, Utah
7(233): S Troy Nolan, Arizona State

Improving the defense was a priority for the Texans, and it showed in the fact that five of the team's eight picks were defensive players.

"We can get more athletic, tougher on that side of the ball, more physical on that side of the ball," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "Obviously, that is what we try to do with the draft, looking for impact players. We had two of them here today in Brian and Barwin, two guys we think can make big-time impacts very quickly."

The Texans addressed a plethora of needs: strongside linebacker (Cushing, with incumbent starter Zac Diles returning from injury), pass-rushing defensive end (Barwin), a center who can also play both guard positions (Caldwell), a nickel cornerback (Quin), a run-blocking tight end (Hill) and depth in the secondary (McCain, Nolan). Casey was a luxury pick as a do-it-all-athlete whom the Texans plan to use in a variety of ways.

"We just wrapped up what we consider to be a couple of productive days," general manager Rick Smith said. "We're very pleased with the additions to our football team. We have added some very good football players and good men that are going to fit into our locker room, which is something that we always talk about and think about. These guys are going to add toughness (and) athleticism to our team both offensively and defensively."

One position that the Texans didn't address that may surprise fans is running back. The Texans publicly stated before the draft that they wanted to find a complement to Steve Slaton. Smith said after the draft that the Texans considered drafting a running back, but they felt there was better value for players at other positions.

Expect the Texans to sign at least one undrafted rookie to a free agent contract. That frantic signing process began as soon as the Kansas City Chiefs made South Carolina kicker Ryan Succop this year's "Mr. Irrelevant" by taking him with the 256th and final pick of the draft. The Texans signed seven undrafted rookie free agents in 2008. They brought in 14 after the 2007 draft. Some of the top prospects still available include Oregon's Jeremiah Johnson, Purdue's Kory Sheets and Boise State's Ian Johnson.

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