After the Texans selected Auburn running back Ben Tate with the 58th pick of the second round, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of his interview.
Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison
(on the selection of RB Ben Tate) "We were very excited about selecting Ben Tate in the second round. We feel like he is an explosive player, has good size, good speed, and has good running skills, good hands. I think he fits with what we do. He is a player that we look forward to working with in the future next year."
(on what impressed the Texans about Tate at the NFL Combine) "Well starting with the 40 (yard dash), he clocked faster than what we imagined especially at his size. He went through the drills and did a fine job with everything else. We had an interview with him over at the hotel and he was completely under control with what they (Auburn Tigers) had done last year. He'd been through a few offenses. Out of high school early, out of college early, he just had a lot of things going for him — speed, explosive and size."
(on how changing offenses four times in college will help him make the adjustment to the NFL) "I think because of all the things he was expected to do over the years and his style, going with his size and speed, making his cuts and getting to where he needed to get to fast. If you're too patient as a runner, the defense tends to close the holes fast. I think what we see with him, he's got potential to do very great things for us."
(on how the Texans compared RB Toby Gerhart and RB Ben Tate) "We were kind of split in the room. They're both fine players. We were going to be excited to have either one of them. With both of them there and the opportunity to move back and pick up another draft choice, a third (round pick), we thought it was such a good opportunity to help our entire team. So we felt really good about either one of them and the chances of getting one of the two of them and adding another player was too great."
(on taking the risk of missing both players between draft selections) "When got down, obviously (RB) Toby (Gerhart) was taken with Minnesota (Vikings), the change was that it became one player, the picture changed a little bit."
(on the reason for trading up) "We knew Seattle was looking for a runner, particularly. Cleveland possibly. Or New England, it was. New England and Seattle. There was just a lot of information about maybe we should move back up and make sure we got Ben. "
(on if he has a plan for using him and Texans RB Steve Slaton) "No, not at all. We're just letting it happen and we'll rotate him in and whoever deserves the carries will get them."
(on if Ben Tate could be starting this year) "Anything is possible. We're excited to have a talent like him and we'll see how it works out."
(on his speed, explosiveness and if he's a short yardage back) "With his size, he can possibly do all that. With practice, time will tell. He's a big running back, so he's got a chance to help us in short yardage and goal line, yes."
(on blitz pick up) "Oh, yeah. He's a big, strong kid. He seemed to handle everything we gave him in the interview. There's evidence he'll be fine with everything we ask him to do."
(on being worried about Seattle possible taking Tate ahead of the Texans) "There was a little bit of that. Obviously, we don't sit in their meetings and know who they targeted but we knew the depth at running back and the style we were looking for and just assumed they were looking for a similar player. So that was a concern."
(on his patience and vision as a runner) "His skills as a runner are good. He was asked to be in a spread formation, which is a little bit different from what we're going to ask. Most of the tight zones will be similar to him because that's all you can really do from the spread gun. The wide zones will take a little bit of an adjustment with his running skill, I think. With time and working, I think we'll be in good shape."
(on how concerned he was about getting a running back) "This morning, it was pretty good, but then it got nerve-racking. There's still some very fine football players out there, just different tiers."
(on how they evaluated RB Ben Tate compared to RBs C.J. Spiller and Ryan Mathews) "I guess it's confidence level on how good they're going to be immediately. Ben has as much potential as those guys but you just saw a little bit more from those. Everybody sees it a little different. I'm sure there are some people that maybe had C.J. Spiller at number one and somebody had Ryan Matthews at number one and Ben Tate and Toby Gerhart. Everybody just has a different view. We just kind of worked our way down and got the player that we think will really help us."
(on Texans defensive coordinator Frank Bush's reaction to Ryan Mathews being picked by the San Diego Chargers) "I thought Ryan Mathews was a very fine player and would have really enjoyed working with him. I don't know if I yelled louder than Frank; I think he yelled the loudest. But we feel real fortunate to have (CB) Kareem (Jackson) also and Ben (Tate) will help us, too. We're going to just try to put all the pieces together, working to get better and better."