The Texans drafted Georgia center Ben Jones , Michigan State wide receiver Keshawn Martin and Nebraska defensive end Jared Crick in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Jones (6-3, 304), drafted 99th overall with the fourth pick of the fourth round, started 49 games at Georgia. He was a team captain and four-time academic All-SEC selection.
"He was one of the guys we all came to a consensus to target right off the bat," Texans offensive line coach John Benton said. "He only exceeded our expectations. He's one of those guys, everything you go investigate about Ben Jones is A-plus, plus: character, work ethic, and those types of things. He really is a role model in that way."
Jones changed his number from 61 to 60 his senior season to honor his father, Steve, who died in a helicopter crash when Ben was 10. A native of Centreville, Ala., he watched the draft at his aunt's house in Bibb County, Ala., because he doesn't get cell phone reception at his home.
Jones will play center for the Texans as a backup to Pro Bowler Chris Myers.
"It's the best feeling I've ever had," Jones said of being drafted by Houston. "I'm just excited. It's in the South. I love being from the South. I was born down here, so it's good to stay down south. I can't wait to get there and enjoy Texas and being in Houston.
"I'd say I'm a very physical guy that plays whistle to whistle and I like to get after it."
Martin (6-0, 188) was the 121st overall pick. An All-Big Ten punt returner, he ran a 4.45 40-yard dash and had a 39.5-inch vertical jump at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Martin had 66 catches and 776 receiving yards in 2011, including 445 yards after the catch.
"He's an outstanding player with the ball in his arms," Texans wide receivers coach Larry Kirksey said. "We like the way that he plays the game. He has route-running skills where he can escape the line of scrimmage and elude defenders, and I like his playing strength. He's a dynamic player that we think will come in and compete and hopefully run after the catch, which has been down in the last couple of years, and improve that and make us a better football team."
Martin ranks second in Michigan State history in punt return yards (659), eighth in kick return yards (1,100) and 10th in all-purpose yards (4,013). He had 64 carries for 540 yards (8.4 average) and scored a touchdown rushing, receiving, passing and as a punt returner and kick returner.
"I'm just a fast, quick type of receiver, also can do punt and kick returns," Martin said. "I feel like I got good route-running ability. When I was in college, I liked to compare myself to a Percy Harvin-type of player that could make those big plays for the team and really help the team out."
Crick (6-4, 279) was picked 126th. He had 9.5 sacks in 2009 and 2010 before missing most of his senior season in 2011 with a torn pectoral muscle.
"Those things just happen, sort of like (former Texans linebacker) Mario (Williams) this past year for us," Texans assistant head coach/defensive line Bill Kollar said. "He's 100 percent and ready to go, and we're looking to get some pretty good help from him this year.
"He really does a good job with his hands. He's an instinctive player, which you really like. You know how you see some guys who sort of look like robots when they're out there playing? He's not like that at all. He's an instinctive player; he uses his hands real well, comes off blocks, and I think that's why he had a productive career at Nebraska."
Crick will play defensive end for the Texans in base packages. Kollar said he'll be an inside rusher – "really, a defensive tackle" – in nickel packages.
Crick, a native of Cozard, Neb., said he likes to predicate himself on hard work and that he likes to think he has the same mentality as Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.
"I've been following them," Crick said of the Texans. "I follow guys like J.J. Watt just for the fact that he plays the same position I did in college, so it was good to follow him. And just seeing the progress that the team has made over the past couple of years, they're an exciting ball team to watch.
"I'm very excited to play for a team who prides themselves on defense as Houston does. Coming from Nebraska, where we do the same as far as pride on defense, it's very exciting to go in and have the opportunity to work for a coach like coach (Texans defensive coordinator Wade) Phillips and the whole defensive staff.
"I like to consider myself a guy who plays the game hard. I love this game and I'd do anything for my team. I want to win, and whatever it takes to win, I'm going to do, whatever my role is. I like to consider myself a very loyal teammate, someone who's going to work for the guys, so I've just got to go in and I've got to prove that to the vets and I've got to prove that to my new teammates."