Houston picked Ohio State receiver DeVier Posey and Miami (Ohio) offensive lineman Brandon Brooks in the third round, addressing two roster positions with depth questions.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Posey caught only 12 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns in three games last year. He served two five-game suspensions for taking improper benefits, first cash and tattoos for signed memorabilia and then being overpaid for a summer job.
"It was something I learned my lessons from, I'm moving forward," Posey said. "It's made me a better man and a better person. I'm just excited just to get down to Houston and get to work."
Posey could be valuable soon, with star receiver Andre Johnson aging and no consistent threat behind him. Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison says Houston felt confident about Posey's character after an extensive background check.
"He made a mistake," Dennison said. "We all checked with whoever we could and we all felt pretty comfortable that it was a mistake he made, he worked hard and still went to practice the entire year, even though he only played a few games. He made a mistake and he learned from that."
The 6-foot-4,353-pound Brooks started 41 of 45 games for the Redhawks and split time at guard and tackle. The Texans were thin on the line after cutting right tackle Eric Winston and losing right guard Mike Brisiel in free agency. Antoine Caldwell is tabbed as the new starter at right guard, and Rashad Butler is slated to take over Winston's role. Derek Newton, a seventh-round draft pick last year, will back up Butler.
Brooks made 15 starts at left guard, 14 at left tackle and 12 at right guard in college.
"I was one of those guys where it didn't really matter to me where I played," Brooks said. "Whatever best helps the team. Same thing going to Houston. I'm not looking for any position or anything like that, I understand I have to earn it. I'm versatile and whatever they want me to play, that's definitely where I'll play."
The Texans traded their second-round pick (No. 58 overall) and their seventh-round pick (No. 233) to Tampa Bay for a third-round pick (No. 68) and a fourth-round pick (No. 126 overall). It was Houston's 15th draft-weekend trade and the sixth since 2010.
Dennison said "there was a cluster" of players that the Texans' brass felt good about in the range of their picks. They were comfortable moving back in the draft order if it meant acquiring another selection.
Houston took Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus in the first round, even though Houston coach Gary Kubiak and general manager Rick Smith both said they were eyeing the deep pool of receivers in the draft. Johnson, a five-time Pro Bowler who turns 31 in July, missed nine full games with hamstring injuries last year and tight end Owen Daniels finished the season as Houston's top receiver.
Posey started 29 games for Ohio State and ranked seventh in school history with 136 receptions and 18 touchdowns. His 1,955 yards receiving ranks eighth all-time. In 2010, he started all 13 games and made 53 catches for 848 yards with seven touchdowns.
"I can't wait to just quiz Andre Johnson and ask him about everything he does and just follow him and follow in his footsteps and get down to Houston," Posey said. "It's just a really excited moment, probably one of the biggest moments of my life."
The Texans finished 10-6 last season and won their first AFC South title to earn the franchise's first playoff berth. The offensive line was a team strength, setting franchise records for yards rushing (2,448) and rushing attempts (546). Brooks says his run-blocking is his strong suit, and says he's familiar with several blocking philosophies because he played for three different offensive coordinators in college.
"I feel like I can go in there and learn a lot of things from the veterans, and I know nothing is given to me," Brooks said. "I look forward to learning so much more at the NFL level from the veterans and the coaching staff."
Dennison says Brooks will start on the inside of the line, but he'll be expected to compete for a starting role.
"We lost Eric, we lost Mike, so we have a couple of spots in there, so we'll move him around and see what happens," Dennison said. "The best five will play."