Friday, April 23, 2010
Tate can cure Texans' short-yardage issues
By Paul Kuharsky
They missed on Ryan Mathews in the first round and they passed on Toby Gerhart when they dealt down in the second round. But with the 62nd pick of the draft the Texans got their running back -- Ben Tate of Auburn.
He’s a one-move, upfield guy who can be productive between the tackles. He should greatly upgrade the team’s short-yardage work, which has been disappointing.
But at 5-11, 220 he’s not the giant many people were thinking Houston would want to go with the speedy (if healthy) Steve Slaton, who’s 5-9, 215.
If Tate is the player the Texans hope he’ll be, the team has few questions on offense. Provided Owen Daniels (recovering from his third torn ACL) and Slaton are healthy, and that a large group of interior offensive linemen produce three starters who can perform better than last year’s injury replacements did, I’d say they’ve got a complete looking offense.
An improved running game should have a very positive effect on the team’s play-action, which really keys what Matt Schaub does.
The Texans traded out of 51st in the second round. They dropped 11 spots and allowing the Minnesota Vikings to select Gerhart while Houston gaining an extra third-rounder, 93rd overall. Then they traded back up with Arizona for 58, which they used on Tate, and giving up their fifth-rounder (150th).
I’d expect their focus to turn back to defense now. A defensive tackle who can rush, a rangy safety and another corner to go with first-rounder Kareem Jackson are pieces they still need.