Texans director of college scouting Dale Strahm and his team of scouts put more than nine months of scouting into the the 2009 NFL Draft. Beginning last June, the Texans' scouts pored over the nation's top prospects through the college football season, postseason all-star games and the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
It all led to eight new players joining the Texans through this weekend's draft.
"Overall, it would probably have been a more sexy draft for everybody had we corralled a running back, which was a priority for us," Strahm said. "But at the same time, what this class represents is a high-quality class as far as individual character is concerned. They're a very bright class with a tremendous work ethic and a toughness about them that's going to rub off on our football team. So we're extremely happy because of those factors."
Strahm, an 11-year NFL scout who spent 31 seasons in the collegiate coaching ranks, sat down with HoustonTexans.com to give a capsulized look at each of the Texans' eight draft picks.
LB Brian Cushing (6-3, 243)Southern California
Round 1, Pick 15
Strahm: "Cushing's a three-year starter from Southern Cal. A captain. He's got a great passion for the game. Tremendous work ethic. He's a full-throttle player. He's a snap-to-whistle kind of guy. He's very intense when he's eating his breakfast, he's very intense when he's in the weight room and he's very intense when he's on the field. So he's a versatile athlete that's going to step on our field and give us an aggressive attitude that we need on defense."
DE Connor Barwin (6-4, 245)Cincinnati
Round 2, Pick 46
Strahm: "He was their team leader. Very versatile athlete. He walked on to the Cincinnati basketball team as a freshman, so that tells you about his athleticism. He also played tight end. He's got a 3.0 GPA; he's very bright. His work ethic is outstanding. He's got a great passion, high motor. He's also a backup long snapper. He's going to be versatile, and his motor goes hard in everything he does. He's not too far off from Cushing's type of aggressiveness. His aggression in coming off the edge is really impressive, but what he doesn't have right now because he's so young at the position, he doesn't have the technique work to go with it right now. So when his technique catches up with his work ethic, then you're going to really have somebody special."
C Antoine Caldwell (6-3, 307)Alabama
Round 3, Pick 77
Strahm: "Captain – another captain. Four-year starter in the SEC. And he's a combo player, which means he can play offensive guard, offensive center. So he's versatile right there. He gives you a two-way guy at the position. What's amazing to us is that your center better be a bright guy because he's got to make the calls at the line of scrimmage – over front, even front, odd front, whatever – and he went to a major university and got two degrees in less than four years. At the same time, what he brings to the table is a tremendous work ethic. He's very bright and his toughness is exceptional, so he's a big-time player."
CB Glover Quin (5-11, 200)
Round 4, Pick 112
Strahm:"He's from Mississippi. He went to community college there in '04 and '05. Three-year starter (at New Mexico), which tells you something to me. Again, another captain. GPA of a 3.0. Very strong. He's got some great power and strength in his lower body. He's got very good ball skills and will probably really make a contribution as a nickel back-special teams guy for us. We're really happy to have him. Very impressive young man."
TE Anthony Hill (6-5, 262)North Carolina State
Round 4, Pick 122
Strahm: "He's a big, big man. He's 6-5, 260 pounds. He went to Hargrave Military Academy in '03. He sustained an injury on his knee in '07 and missed that season, but he ended up being a captain at North Carolina State. He is a dominating blocker. He's extremely aggressive. In fact, everybody's heard of Aaron Curry (the No. 4 pick in the 2009 draft), the outside linebacker who played for Wake Forest. Well, (Anthony) flat-backed Aaron Curry in a game that I was at and watched. So this guy's a very, very aggressive, strong human being. We're really, really happy to have him in there at the tight end position."
TE James Casey (6-3, 243)Rice
Round 5, Pick 152
Strahm: "Awesome. What a great story. Was born and raised in a trailer. He's come from a rough background. He's married. He's a very versatile athlete. I think he has a 3.75 GPA. The guy's age 24; he's a little bit older, so he's more mature. He was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the seventh round. Played pro baseball for four years. This guy, you talk about versatility, he played six different positions at Rice in two years. So he was anything from a slot back to an H-back, a tight end, a fullback, and the cliché thing to say now is that 'Wildcat' formation, which means you put a good athlete at the quarterback spot. That's what he played also. I saw him play it in a game against Texas. The guy is going to bring a lot of versatility to our program, so we can put him in a lot of different positions. Kind of a hybrid guy."
CB Brice McCain (5-9, 182)
Round 6, Pick 188
Strahm: "What a great find. I mean, what a great find for us. Solid person. Again, a captain. Rare speed – 4.3 in the 40 and a 100 meters in 10.3. He's a three-year starter. This guy's going to bring nickel value, cover corner, special teams value. This is a great find, and for him sitting there in the sixth round is unbelievable. He's also returned kicks. He's extremely quick; you couldn't catch him if you had to. Has great stop-and-go ability with great burst to hit the seam. So he's going to bring a lot of versatility in regard to things that he can do. Corner, nickel, special teams value. This is really an outstanding young man."
S Troy Nolan (6-2, 207)Arizona State
Round 7, Pick 233
Strahm: "I keep saying this term, and it's not like we predetermined that we wanted these picks to be team captains, but they are. This guy was a captain also. He's a two-year starter, four-year player. He's got good size. Very productive safety. He's got good ball skills. He's a team leader. Coaches called me on him and they couldn't say enough good things about him. For him to be sitting there in the seventh round was a little bit of a surprise, and I think he's going to make a fine addition as well."