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The Texans' three most recent No. 1 draft picks, including No, 15 in the upcoming draft, may well be the key to Houston's season.
That was a big theme coach Gary Kubiak hit on in his Tuesday morning breakfast meeting with reporters at the owner's meeting in Dana Point, Calif., which I have had a chance to look at thanks to John McClain.
Here are the key pieces of what Kubiak had to say regarding No. 15 and recent first-rounders Amobi Okoye, a defensive tackle, and Duane Brown, the left tackle:
What do you expect out of your first-round pick?
Our first-round pick has to have a big impact on our team. The more the first-round pick continues to be an impact player, the better we're going to get. We could still use an impact player at linebacker and on the backend (but) we'd be hard-pressed to take a receiver or a running back in the first round.
How important is it for you to hit a home run with that pick?
It's very important. We've made progress, and for us to make some more progress, that guy has to be an impact player.
On Okoye's second-year drop off and expectations for him now:
Amobi's got to become an impact player. You talk about this year's No. 1 pick becoming an impact player, that's what we need him to do. When it comes to taking the next step for our defense, Amobi's more important than anybody. I was a little disappointed last season but not with his work. He battled a high ankle sprain. I think we're over those things. He's grown up. He's more mature. I like the way he's started the offseason. Bill [Kollar] has a good reputation with players like Amobi and what his talent is as far as coming off the ball. It's a big year for him."
On what Kubiak wants to see from Okoye:
I want to see him be active, be a factor. We want him to be a factor in all phases of the game. Sometimes I think he worried so much about trying to get sacks that he forgot about having fun and just cutting it loose and playing the game. Sacks aren't the most important thing. We expect him to be a big-time contributor.
If Okoye is the one defensive player who has to step up, who's the one offensive player who has to step up?
I think Duane Brown has to take another step forward. There's no more coming off the field like he did last year [when backup Ephraim Salaam played every fourth series]. He made a lot of progress as a rookie starting every game, and now he has to make more to help our offense be more successful.