HOUSTON – 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.
"We were able to fill some needs," general manager Rick Smith said. "I don't know if you can ever fill every need that you have ... a lot of times you make mistakes if you're trying to reach to fill every single need. But I do think we were successful at addressing some of the areas on our football team that we needed to improve and now it's up to these guys to go out and coach them up."
Houston hopes Jackson will take over at right cornerback, where Robinson 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.
"He's got great skill as a corner," Smith said of Jackson. "He's a tough guy. We had him rated as the guy that could best come in and help our football team. I'm really, really excited about this young man and what he can do for us."
Smith also raved about McManis.
"He's definitely got athletic skills to play on the edge," Smith said. "We love his football personality, the way he plays."
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.
"He's a very talented young man who played big-time football in the SEC," coach Gary Kubiak said of Tate. "He knows that we have a need for him to come in here and help this football team very quickly."
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.
"Not only is he a big back, which we were looking for some power there, but this guy is 4.4 (40-yard dash) also," Kubiak said. "So he has the ability to make big plays. We like his size, but it's always nice to have someone who can hit a home run."
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.
Houston added another tight end when it chose Dorin Dickerson in the seventh round, but Kubiak said he plans to use him at receiver instead.
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.
The Texans aren't sure where Holliday will play on offense, but know they'll use him in the return game.
"We think we got a returner that can change the field for us as a punt and kick returner," Kubiak said. "We think he can do wonders for our football team."