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Texans end 2007 draft with Studdard, Diles

As the Texans' 2007 draft wound down Sunday afternoon, coach Gary Kubiak felt the team was still making picks which could help the team.

The Texans chose University of Texas offensive guard Kasey Studdard in the sixth round and took Kansas State linebacker Zach Diles to wrap things up in the seventh.

Studdard especially is one Kubiak knows well.

"I've known him since he was a baby," Kubiak said. "I know his family very well."

Studdard, a 6-2, 303-pounder, has strong NFL and offensive line bloodlines. His father, Dave, played offensive tackle at UT (1975-77) and then spent 10 seasons with the Broncos. His uncle, Les, played the same position at UT (1978-80) and then played for the Kansas City Chiefs in 1982.

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Dave Studdard was a teammate of Kubiak's at Denver and Kasey says his father told him what to expect.

"He said (Kubiak) was a good guy," Studdard said. "He said if you work your butt off and follow the rules with him, everything will be good.

"I know coach Kubiak knows how to run a program from his days (as offensive coordinator) at Denver."

The longtime connection makes Kubiak feel very comfortable with Studdard.

"I think he'll have a great career here," Kubiak said. "I know what we're going to get, so it was an easy pick for me.

"When you have the kind of insight I have on the kid, you know he has a chance to come in here and play for us."

At UT, Studdard said he naturally kept up with the Texans.

"I have always followed them," he said. "Being in Texas, the only games that were ever on TV were Texans or Cowboys games, so I watched all their games and know a lot about them."

He knew enough to be aware of the Texans' long-suffering reputation along the offensive line, where former quarterback David Carr set records for being sacked. Studdard started his last 38 games at UT and won All-Big 12 honors last year while being named the Longhorns' most consistent offensive lineman.

"I take that kind of thing personally," Studdard said of the Texans' line woes. "I am anxious to get there and try to help out. I just want to find out the way they play offense and see what I can do to help."

Though he knew them well, Studdard didn't expect the Texans to pick him, even though it was the 183rd overall selection.

"I had no clue where I'd go," said Studdard, who had 226 knockdown blocks in his UT career. "I was just hoping I'd get picked. I'm excited and I can't wait to get there and start working out."

Diles didn't expect to be chosen by the Texans either, but already felt a certain connection with them from the past. Diles is from Fresno, Calif., and his brother played at Fresno State with Carr, the Texans' original No. 1 pick.

"I met David Carr in the Fresno locker room a few years back," Diles said. "And he actually gave me a wrist band. He probably doesn't remember it, but I do.

"I feel like it gave me an early connection with the Texans, so I'm glad they picked me. I didn't really know too much more about them and haven't had any conversations with them before the draft. But I couldn't be more happy to be going there."

It took a while for Diles and the Texans to hook up Sunday.

"They tried to call me, but my phone wouldn't pick up," Diles said. "My agent sent me a text message saying the Texans had just drafted me. I was at the house with my friend and I wasn't even looking at the TV. (My friend) said, 'Zach look up at the TV.' I was surprised."

Diles expects to work himself up with the Texans.

"I just want to contribute any way I can," he said. "I'll play defense, special teams, anything they want."

General manager Rick Smith feels all seven of the team's picks will help.

"It was a busy day and a productive day for us," Smith said. "We're excited. We had two good days in the draft. We feel we addressed some of our needs.

"I've said before you're not going to be able to do this thing overnight. But with the picks we made, we feel we are solving some of the issues."

Kubiak agreed, adding that he couldn't pick just one draftee to watch for next season as he did last year when he said fourth-round pick Owen Daniels was one to watch.

"I could say that about all of these kids," Kubiak said. "I like all of them and think they could come in and help us. Even a guy like (Brandon) Frye (offensive tackle from Virginia Tech taken in the fifth round) could come in and help us.

"Athletically, he could have matched up with any of the offensive linemen in the draft. It's just a matter of repetitions with him. And Studdard with his toughness and ability, he could help, too."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Carley is a veteran Houston sportswriter who has covered the NFL for more than 25 years. He has worked for such newspapers as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Houston Post, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and the National Sports Daily covering such teams as the Dallas Cowboys, the Houston Oilers, the Los Angeles Rams and the Oakland Raiders.


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