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Texans take Molden, Slaton in third round


Molden was one of the top performers among cornerbacks at the 2008 NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

The Texans began the second day of the 2008 NFL Draft by filling two pressing needs in the third round.

Houston selected Eastern Kentucky cornerback Antwaun Molden (6-0, 198) with their first third-round choice (No. 79 overall). With the No. 89 overall pick acquired in Saturday's trade with the Baltimore Ravens, they took West Virginia running back Steve Slaton (5-10, 195).

Molden started his career at the University of Toledo before transferring to Eastern Kentucky. He finished the 2007 season with a career-high 70 tackles, including two interceptions. The Cleveland, Ohio, native played for the father of Miami Dolphins wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. at Glenville High School, Ted Ginn, who also attended Eastern Kentucky.

With Dunta Robinson on the mend from leg injuries, the Texans had already brought in Dallas cornerback Jacques Reeves through free agency. Molden was a player who caught the team's eye with an incredible combine performance. The small-school prospect was a top performer in six of the seven events for cornerbacks, posting the most repetitions in the bench press (23) and finishing in the top six in five other categories.

According to Texans defensive coordinator RIchard Smith, Molden excelled in track as well. Smith said that Molden raced against Tennessee State cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the No. 16 overall selection in this year's draft, and beat him six of seven times.

"I feel like I am the complete package," Molden said. "Going through my review, I have a lot to learn about the league. It's fast, so I will have to adapt to the speed, the NFL speed. … In the draft, I feel like I am one of the elite. (I have) the complete package of playing cover two or man to man. (With) my height, my speed, my agility, I feel like I have an advantage."

Molden reminds Smith of Fred Bennett, the' Texans fourth-round selection in 2007 who led the team with three interceptions last season. Both players have good size, long arms, speed and the willingness to tackle. Defensive backs coach Jon Hoke worked out Molden personally, as he did with Bennett last year, and was equally impressed with both players.

He joins a defense full of emerging young players, including Bennett, Mario Williams, Amobi Okoye and DeMeco Ryans.

"I think we are building some good athletes that can run; that have really good size for the position," Smith said. "From that standpoint, I think it looks pretty good for us."

Slaton, meanwhile, was one of the Big East's leading rushers the past two seasons. He entered the draft as a junior.
Texans offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan raved about Slaton's speed and receiving skills. He anticipates using Slaton as a third-down back, similar to New England's Kevin Faulk or New Orleans' Reggie Bush.

"If you look at the top offenses in the league, they all have a player like that," Shanahan said. "I think this guy fits that role for us. We have two guys right now that we think can carry the load, but this guy can come in a fill a role. 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. 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."

Slaton ranks third on West Virginia's all-time rushing list with 3,923 career yards. He ran for a Sugar Bowl record 204 yards against Georgia in the 2006 game, the second-highest total ever by a player in a BCS bowl game.

"I see myself as a playmaker," Slaton said. "I am proud of myself for making big plays, and I think that is what I can bring to the Texans."

For the more information in's draft blog, click here.

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