For general manager and executive vice president Rick Smith, the decision to select cornerback Kevin Johnson on Thursday night was an easy one.
He was "by far" his favorite cornerback in the draft.
"When you can look at pictures and see this guy do everything that were going to ask him to do on film, you saw that on tape," Smith said Thursday night. "That's not taking anything away from (Michigan State cornerback) Trae Waynes, we thought he was a great player as well. But when we're talking about versatility and we're talking about a guy who we saw do all the things that were going to ask him to do and we think he can do it in the slot and we think he can do it on the edge. When you put all those factors together and the way that he plays and how instinctive he is, that's why he was my favorite."
"Where do you want me to begin?" O'Brien said when asked what he liked about Johnson.
The qualities that impressed the Texans head coach was an extensive one, but versatility and instincts also topped his list.
"I felt in the study that I did on him and that we did on him, that's what stood out to us is that, in college, he could play on the outside, he could play inside, he could play press, he could play off, he had good length, he was competitive, and he was instinctive," O'Brien said. "It was obvious that he studied film and we feel really good about his ability to transfer that ability to our league."
Johnson spent five years at Wake Forest after being ruled academically ineligible to play his sophomore season. It didn't deter the Texans who saw Johnson's ability to learn from that misstep, becoming a three-year starter before graduating, as a positive character trait.
"I like those kind of situations where a guy is a young guy and might not be as mature as he needs to be, but then he turns it around and he did," Smith said. "He goes in and comes back and he starts three years and he graduates. He's from a great family, so he represents what we like our players to look like. He's a Houston Texan."
The Texans met with Johnson at the NFL Combine but did not speak again to the Wake Forest product until Thursday night, when it was time to deliver the news that he was about to be drafted. Smith said the team contacted Johnson's position coaches just one day earlier, but overall felt very comfortable in selecting him with the No. 16 overall draft pick.
Johnson, who arrives in Houston Friday, will be learning from starters Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph. With Jackson newly re-signed and the veteran Joseph still under contract, the Texans further fortified the secondary with Thursday night's draft selection.
"We feel really good about the corner position, specifically after tonight with the addition of Kevin," O'Brien said. "We have two really good veteran corners in Johnathan and Kareem that he can learn behind. He'll come in and compete right away. Nothing will be given to any rookie, but he'll be given the opportunity to come in here and compete and we know he's going to do that. It's only April, but as far as April is concerned, we feel good about the secondary."
The NFL Draft continues with Rounds 2 and 3 on Friday, May 1 and Rounds 4 through 7 on Saturday, May 2.
Meet CB Kevin Johnson, the newest member of the Houston Texans.