Texans general manager Rick Smith and head coach Gary Kubiak addressed the media shortly after the Texans selected Amobi Okoye with the 10th overall selection in the 2007 NFL Draft. Following are their comments.
Texans General Manager Rick Smith
(opening statement) "We're extremely pleased with the opportunity to select a player like Amobi (Okoye). He was our top defensive player on the board, and for him to be there at the 10th pick was a surprise to us, a pleasant surprise. This kid is an outstanding football player. He's obviously a well documented story. He's 19 years old. He's done everything. He's been advanced for his age his whole life. I think what he brings from a pass rush standpoint, he's got great body quickness and strength. He's a kid that will help our pass rush. We've talked about in this room the other day about the fact that we do have to address our pass rush and here's an opportunity to get a three technique, and very rarely do you find a three technique with quickness that can rush the passer inside, and that obviously will help our ends and help Mario's (Williams) development. When you talk about building a defense, and I think what we did last year indicates that we are committed to building this team and building a defense. When you talk about that you talk about building down the middle and I think we were fortunate enough to start that last year with DeMeco Ryans and what he did for us and now you have a kid like Amobi Okoye as a three technique. We're building from the middle out and I'm excited about the kid and I think you guys are really going to enjoy him. He's a very intelligent, hardworking, talented football player."
(on Okoye still being available) "We absolutely were shocked. We probably in all of our mock drafts probably looked at one scenario where he was there. I don't think we were along in our assessment of his ability."
(on how close the Texans were to making a trade) "We entertained it. We had some phone calls. But at the end of the day when you're sitting there and they guy whom you've got rated at that spot on your defense is there, it would take a lot to move. We just felt like the opportunity to get that kid at that spot was just too much to pass up."
(on Okoye's age being an advantage or disadvantage) "I look at it as an advantage. He's a young kid still growing. I think he did a nice job of changing his body this past season. When you look at him you know that there's an enormous amount of growth potential that he has. He's already a powerful and quick kid, so I think that's a big advantage. I think he's going to continue to grow and develop, and I think we've got ourselves a good football player for awhile."
Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak
(on what impressed him the most about Okoye) "Just talking to him awhile ago I told him about how impressed I was with him in Indianapolis. We all know how sharp the young man is. I think he's mature way beyond his age. He's a fine, fine football player, or he wouldn't be in the position he's in. We want to build this thing with guys that do it the right way, play hard, with class, and that's what we did right here with this young man and we continue to build our defense. I just feel very fortunate to get him."
(on whom Okoye reminds him of) "We were watching him preparing for the draft, I have a player who I'm a big fan of during the time I coached in San Francisco, Bryant Young, who was a great player for many, many years. This guy reminds me of him a lot. It's very hard to find inside players in the National Football League that can rush the passer, and this kid can do that. He was exceptional Senior Bowl week, if you go back and look at it, he really raised his level of play. That really says something about where a kid is ready to go, in my opinion, when you watch these guys coming out in the draft, and the week he had there was second to none. So, just very excited about him, and I know DeMeco (Ryans) has to be excited too, because that's one more player up front to keep people off of him. We're committed to building that defensive side of the ball, and we've got some other issues, but we feel real good about this young man."
(on if the addition of Okoye will help Mario Williams) "I think it definitely does because when you've got an end on your team, people can turn their protections a certain way to try to help and double on that player if you only have that player. By having an inside guy to go with him to rush the passer will definitely level the playing field. It just makes the whole defense better."
(on what he likes about Okoye as a pass rusher) "Frank (Bush) and Jethro (Franklin) can probably describe it better, but there's a thing you're looking for with inside players in the way they can dip their hips and turn the corner whenever they're defeating a guard or defeating a center. This kid can do that. He's close to the quarterback, he's close to the ball. He's an effort player and that was a big positive for us as we evaluated him."
(on if the fan reaction matters) "It's good. I can sit here all day. We're trying to build the best football team we can for our city, our fans, for you guys, and everybody here. It takes some patience, but it takes a lot of work, and we know it takes good people that are good players, and we've got a good young man that's a fine football player."
(on what Okoye needs to work on) "I think he can get better at everything. He's so young and there's so much room for him to grow as a player, and we'll approach it that way. This kid, to be that age, and doing some of the things he's doing, if he'll just keep the same focus he's had and working with Jethro and working with Frank, and getting him going with our defensive scheme, I feel like this young man can be very successful very quickly."
(on improving the defense and pass rush) "Well, we just improved our defense 10 minutes ago. That's the way I look at it. If you can play great defense in this league, you've got a chance to win every week. We have other issues that we need to continue to address in this draft to get better at, that hasn't changed. I know one thing, if we can keep them from scoring, we've got a chance every week. When we have a chance to improve our defensive football team, we're going to do that."