Mr. Irrelevant: Texans take Ozougwu to cap 2011 draft


With the 254th and final pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Texans made local product Cheta Ozougwu this year's "Mr. Irrelevant."

A defensive end from Rice University and a native of Houston, Ozougwu (6-2, 255) will play linebacker in the Texans' 3-4 defense.

"It's truly a blessing," Ozougwu said. "I'm very fortunate that Rick Smith and Coach (Gary) Kubiak gave me the opportunity to play for the team. I'm very thankful for it."

Ozougwu is a 2007 graduate of Alief Taylor High School in southwest Houston. He gushed about getting drafted by his hometown team.

"It means a lot," Ozougwu said. "I'm really good friends with James Casey, who was drafted two years ago to the Texans. I have heard nothing but great things about them. I've actually developed relationships with the guys there now who are working out either at Houston Athletics or Rice. It's a great opportunity for me to be home, have my family able to see me (and) be a part of the organization."

Kubiak said after the draft that the Texans view Ozougwu as a linebacker. He had 11 career sacks at Rice and was first-team All-Conference USA in 2010. He also had a 3.41 GPA while majoring in economics.

"He can rush the passer," Kubiak said. "Very smart young man, we all know that. We think he'll play four different positions for us on defense and be a heck of a special teams player… (He) has a big football IQ and a high motor, and we think he'll find a way to make it in this league. Just kind of nice that it ended up being right down the street, so we're happy for him."

The "Mr. Irrelevant" tradition was started in 1976 by former NFL receiver Paul Salata, who announces the final pick of the draft each year.

Every year after the draft, Mr. Irrelevant and his family are invited to Newport Beach, Calif., for "Irrelevant Week." Events include a golf tournament, a regatta and a sports banquet. Ozougwu will even receive the Lowsman Trophy, a spin-off of the Heisman Trophy that depicts a player fumbling a football.

"Really?" Ozougwu said. "I had no idea. That's awesome.

"It's funny, one of my teammates about two weeks ago was like, 'Hey man, if you get drafted in the seventh round, like the last pick, you get called something like Mr. Irrelevant or things of that nature' and (talked about) all these things they do… I had no idea it'd be me, but I'm definitely thankful for it."

Ozougwu was the Texans' second selection of the seventh round. The Texans drafted Arkansas State offensive tackle Derek Newton 40 earlier at No. 214 overall.

Newton (6-5, 311) was first-team All-Sun Belt in 2010 and second-team all-conference in 2009. He ran a 5.01 40-yard dash at the Combine and put up 24 reps in the bench press.

Newton started his college career at Hinds (Miss.) Community College. He watched the draft at home with his mother in Utica, Miss.

"She is really happy for me," Newton said. "She's smiling and stuff like that. I'm really excited and ready to go."

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