Texans secretive about franchise's second-ever draft

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2003

HOUSTON -- Houston Texans general manager Charley Casserly dispelled any mystery about the expansion team's first draft pick. Quarterback David Carr already was house-hunting by the time Houston formally chose him at No. 1 in 2002.

This time around, the Texans own the No. 3 overall pick and have everyone guessing. What they decide to do could be the key to how things unfold next weekend.

''It's a different draft. There's no question about that,'' Casserly said.

If Houston keeps its pick, the most likely possibilities are Miami receiver Andre Johnson and Arizona State defensive end Terrell Suggs. Suggs acknowledges his stock dropped after a poor predraft workout he attributes to simply having a bad day.

The team also has hosted Kansas State cornerback Terence Newman and Utah offensive lineman Jordan Gross, both of whom could still be available if the Texans trade down a bit.

Or perhaps Houston will trade for Cincinnati's top overall pick and snare Michigan State receiver Charles Rogers, who also visited the team this month. But if the Texans don't move up, the Detroit Lions are a virtual lock to take the home-state product at No. 2.

''To make it simple, if we stay at 3, we're going to get a starter,'' Casserly said. ''If we trade back we're going to get a player who will start for us and something else.

''We're looking at a lot of options, and we have for a long time. We're still debating a lot of issues.''

Despite the horror show put on by the Texans' offense last season -- Carr's record 76 sacks at the forefront -- Johnson and Rogers say they're eager to come aboard and improve things.

''David Carr is a great player and great quarterback,'' Johnson said. ''I've talked to him a few times. He said if I had any questions at all to give him a call. He's hoping I can be here with him. I'd like to be here a long time, and maybe we could start something great.''

Rogers made it clear he'd be just as happy to come to Houston as he would be to stay close to home.

''People who know football know I'm the best player in the draft,'' Rogers said. ''I make good plays. I make great catches. I run fast. I can stretch the field. I can get open. I'm all of the above. I feel like I'm the total package.''

There are other intriguing names. Suggs could step in and fill a pass-rushing void left by Jeff Posey, who signed with Buffalo after leading Houston with eight sacks. Newman could make cornerback Marcus Coleman expendable, opening up salary-cap space.

Or the Texans could take Gross so he could help keep Carr upright a little more often.

''If the Texans decide to trade (down), it's still an option. And if they don't, it's still an option,'' said the 6-foot-5, 306-pound Gross, who sees himself drafted anywhere from No. 3 to the low teens. ''On draft day, I'll definitely be sitting on the edge of my seat for about two hours waiting to see what will happen.''

Lost in the first-round speculation is the Texans' opportunity to add much-needed depth across the roster. Houston surprisingly boasted the NFL's 16th-ranked defense last year, but had precious little depth, a weakness masked by the unit's lack of injuries.

Of course, after fielding one of the weakest offenses in recent memory, there's plenty of room for improvement and depth at every position except quarterback.

The Texans have 13 choices, tied with New England for most in the NFL, as expansion rules help them build a franchise that was competitive in many of its games and finished 4-12.

Casserly hopes to fatten his roster.

''Yes, the first-round pick is going to play for us at some point, rather quickly, but we want to get the third-, fourth-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-round picks in there, too,'' he said.

With their patient approach to building the franchise and the array of selections this year, the Texans are considered a prime candidate to take Miami running back Willis McGahee. His gruesome knee injury in the college championship game against Ohio State dropped him from perhaps being Houston's No. 3 pick to a lower slot.

The Texans, who have three third-round picks, have no idea where McGahee might be taken. Neither does he.

''I was curious at first, but I don't want to get too curious, because then I'd get my mind set on one thing and it would be something else,'' McGahee said. ''Nobody knows where I'm going, so I'll just sit back and wait.''



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