HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans had two big needs heading into the NFL draft.
They filled them both.
The Texans took Alabama cornerback Kareem Jackson with the 20th pick overall and added Auburn running back Ben Tate in the second round with the 58th choice.
Jackson will help in the secondary after the Texans lost top cornerback Dunta Robinson to Atlanta in free agency. Houston added depth at that position when it took Northwestern cornerback Sherrick McManis in the fifth round.
Houston hopes Jackson will take over at right cornerback, where Robinson had started for the majority of the last six seasons. He could pair with second-year player Glover Quin, who started 12 games in a solid rookie season. Houston also has veteran Jacques Reeves and Fred Bennett, a player who hasn't lived up to expectations entering his fourth season.
Tate should improve a running game that ranked 30th in the NFL last season as Steve Slaton dealt with fumbling problems before a season-ending neck injury that required surgery.
Houston was looking for a bigger running back to share carries with the 5-foot-9 Slaton and found it with the 5-11, 220-pound Tate. He ran for 1,362 yards and 10 touchdowns last season and left Auburn with 3,321 yards in four seasons.
The Texans ranked fourth in total offense thanks to their explosive passing game, but often struggled in short-yardage situations without an effective running game. The team has had trouble with its running game for years except for in 2008 when third-round pick Slaton ran for a franchise record 1,282 yards as a rookie.
Houston expects Slaton to be healthy in time for the season and believes he'll bounce back after his sub-par second season where he fumbled seven times and ran for just 437 yards.
The Texans drafted Arizona defensive tackle Earl Mitchell in the third round and added Miami linebacker Darryl Sharpton in the fourth round. Garrett Graham, a tight end from Wisconsin, was chosen later in the fourth round but will face competition on a team with four other players at that position.
In the sixth round, the Texans chose Colorado State offensive guard Shelley Smith with the 187th pick and LSU receiver and returner Trindon Holliday with No. 197. Holliday, who was also a track star at LSU, is only 5-5, but ran a 4.34 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.