The Texans, on paper, improved their defense on the first day of the 2009 NFL Draft. USC’s Brian Cushing has the potential to improve the team’s toughness and the run defense on first and second downs, one of the big weaknesses from 2008. He has the potential to be a bigger body on the strong side. In my opinion, he should start over Zac Diles on run downs. Whether he is a true three down player, only time will tell. At the very least, Cushing brings an attitude of toughness to the team.
As for the second round pick, Connor Barwin brings versatility. He played tight end, defensive end and linebacker for the University of Cincinnati. I think he projects as a pass rush specialist for 2009. Pairing him with Mario Williams, shifting Antonio Smith inside along with Amobe Okoye should allow the Texans to pressure the quarterback with the line, allowing linebackers to drop into coverage. Much the same as Cushing, Barwin brings intensity and toughness to the Texans.
On Day 1 of the 2009 NFL Draft, the Texans seemingly have improved their pass rush and their run defense. These were two major problems in 2008. On Day 2, look for the Texans to add a running back and secondary help in the middle rounds and a developmental quarterback in the late rounds. Coach Gary Kubiak is from the Bill Walsh school of drafting a QB every year for developmental purposes. Look for that trend to continue.