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Okam, Barber, Brink round out Texans' draft

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Okam is the run-stopper that the Texans wanted up front, while Barber adds depth to the secondary and Brink joins a talented quarterback stable.

The Texans continued to fill some of their needs through the draft by selecting run-stopping defensive tackle Frank Okam (6-5, 320) in the fifth round on Sunday and Minnesota safety Dominique Barber (6-0, 210) in round six. The team chose Washington State quarterback Alex Brink (6-2, 212) in the seventh round to wrap up its 2008 draft.

Okam, a Dallas native from the University of Texas, had five sacks last year to go along with a career-high 52 tackles, including 11 for loss.

"Both of my roommates in college were from Houston and so I have been around Houston a long, long time now and it is actually one of my favorite cities to be in," Okam said. "Being able to play in the state and go to Houston, it is a blessing really."

Nicknamed "Nightmare" for his ferocious play on the field, Okam was a coach's dream in the classroom at UT. He speaks French, graduated with a degree in sports management in three-and-a-half years and finished in the top 30 of his senior class by maintaining a 3.9 GPA. He was named first-team Academic All-Big 12 as a senior and intends to go to law school after his playing days are over.

Though some questioned his passion for football because of his desire to perhaps attend law school instead of pursue the NFL, Okam quieted those concerns when the Texans recently hosted him for a visit at Reliant Stadium.

"I'm a competitor and love the game of football," Okam said. "I wanted to play in an organization that is heading in the right direction, and I really felt that (the Texans) were doing that. Basically, I just wanted to let them see my talents and my focus personally.

"Before you can judge someone fully, you have to get to know that person, and they brought me in and really sat down and talked to me. They just wanted to see where my head was, and they knew that I'm passionate about this game. I basically told them that they are going to get a guy that can stop the run and get at the quarterback when you need that."

Okam, a Parade All-American in high school, flashed dominant potential during his Longhorn career. If Texans defensive coordinator Richard Smith and his staff can teach him to play up to his abilities on a consistent basis, the Texans will have come away with a player far more valuable than his fifth-round selection indicates.

"What you have here is a big football player," Smith said. "He brings a size and dimension that we don't have with our defensive line. …Why did he drop to the fifth round? Well, his play was very inconsistent this year. That's our job as coaches to get it out of them. We think he's got great potential and we're pleased to have him."

With the sixth-round pick acquired from the Baltimore Ravens in Saturday's draft-day trade, the Texans chose Barber, the brother of Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowler Marion Barber and son of Marion Barber, Jr., a New York Jets running back from 1982-1988.

"I look at the way my dad and brother teach me about the game, and talk to me about what they've gone through, and how I am a different player than they are and they are a different player than I am," Barber said. "It's about what we do with our opportunities, and taking advantage of the opportunity when it comes; don't worry about anything, just go out there and play the game that you can play.

"My brother is having a great career with the Cowboys, my dad had a great career with the Jets, and I'm hoping to have a great career with the Texans."

Texans defensive assistant Ray Rhodes, one of the Texans' two high-profile veteran assistant coaches added in the offseason, was responsible for evaluating safeties in this draft. Rhodes was adamant about using the sixth-round selection on Barber.

"Barber is one of his guys that he stood up on the table for today," Smith said of Rhodes. "He thought he had a bright future."

Brink is the Cougars' career passing leader in touchdowns (76) and yards (10,913) and was a second-team All-Pac 10 pick in 2006. He is the third-leading passer in terms of yardage in Pac-10 history behind Carson Palmer and Derek Anderson. He joins a quarterback rotation that includes Matt Schaub, Sage Rosenfels, Quinn Gray and Shane Boyd.

"I was really excited," Brink said of getting the phone call from Texans management. "It's definitely a relief. I've certainly been waiting around all day waiting for something like this to happen. I'm just excited that I'm going to get a great opportunity with a great organization."

Texans head coach Gary Kubiak and general manager Rick Smith feel that Brink has all the tools to develop into a solid NFL quarterback. A few days ago, they discussed the possibility of picking Brink if the draft played out right.

"Rick and I had this converesation the other day and I said, 'If you're so fortunate to move back and we do pick up a couple of extra picks, if this young man sticks around 'til late in the draft, boy, this would be a great opportunity, a great try,'" Kubiak said. "I mean, he played in a great conference...This guy knows what it is to be chased by very good people. He'll get rid of the ball, so (with) all that stuff he's way ahead from that standpoint and he's very, very smart.

"I'd just like to try. (He's) a great young man, and i'm looking forward to working with him."

Read our draft blog for more details of the day.

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