Slaton pick gets national attention

Even though war rooms across the league have cleared out and the 2008 rookies are starting to report to their new teams, draft pundits can't seem to let go.

They want to grade each team's picks. They want to grade their mock drafts. Some even are even posting mock drafts for next year.

A sweep on the web produces mixed draft evaluations for every team, but there does seem to be a consensus surrounding one of Houston's picks: running back Steve Slaton was a steal for the Texans.

Slaton, who rushed for nearly 4,000 yards in his three years at West Virginia, was drafted by Houston in the third round with the 89th overall selection. The 5-9, 197-pound ball carrier has the speed to get to the outside and break away in the open field.

He is the third-down back that the Texans lacked last season.

"We can use him on third downs, we can use him in special situations to come in and be a change of pace type player," offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. "He's got the size and the quickness and the mentality to do the things we're going to ask. I think he will fill that role in the pass game and in the run game and in one-back situations."

Shanahan even compared Slaton to New England's Kevin Faulk and New Orleans' Reggie Bush. That comparison grabbed the attention of the national media, as writers called the Texans' selection one of the best moves by a ball club in this year's draft.

ESPN.com listed the Texans' pick of Slaton as one of the "10 best marriages of talent, team needs," with Jeffri Chadiha writing:

"You put him into assistant head coach Alex Gibbs' zone-blocking run game, and he's guaranteed to be effective. Keep in mind that Gibbs was in Atlanta when another diminutive runner -- Warrick Dunn -- enjoyed his best years as a feature back in that one-cut-and-go system. Slaton has the explosiveness and vision to enjoy similar success as a third-round steal with the Texans."

In the same vein, Vic Carucci from NFL.com wrote:

"They (Texans) also added picks that allowed them to address other needs -- third-round running back Steve Slaton, a former West Virginia standout whose impressive outside speed fits nicely in Gary Kubiak's one-cut scheme."

Slaton could make the biggest immediate impact of any 2008 rookie. Of course, it's too soon to tell, but sometimes we can't help but think about it.

  • Brooke Bentley
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