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Could Texans draft a tight end in first round?

Posted by Nick Scurfield on February 29, 2012 – 6:10 pm

*This article is part of our 2012 Path to the Draft coverage presented by Warehouse Pool Supply

Texans tight end Joel Dreessen is up for free agency after catching a team-high six touchdowns in 2011. The Texans’ offense relies heavily on tight ends. Combo tight ends are all the rage in the NFL given the success of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in New England last season.

Might the Texans consider picking a tight end, such as Stanford’s Coby Fleener, with the 26th pick of the 2012 draft?

“I think you’re always looking for those type of guys,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said last Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. “We’ve been able to find tight ends later in the draft. That’s kind of been my m.o. through Denver and in Houston.”

As Broncos offensive coordinator from 1995-2005, Kubiak coached Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe, who was a seventh-round pick in 1990. Sharpe’s successor was Jeb Putzier, a sixth-round pick in 2002. Since Kubiak arrived in Houston, the Texans have drafted tight ends Owen Daniels in the fourth round (2006), James Casey in the fifth round (2008) and Garrett Graham in the fourth round (2010). Dreessen was a sixth-round pick of the New York Jets in 2006 who the Texans signed off the street in 2007.

Kubiak was asked if Graham is capable as a blocker, a question that could become especially pertinent if the Texans are unable to re-sign Dreessen. Graham has battled shoulder and hamstring injuries in his first two seasons and has just one catch for 24 yards.

“Garrett’s been hurt,” Kubiak said. “The biggest thing for Garrett is to get healthy. He’s been one of our guys who’s been in the building every day since the season’s been over. This is a huge offseason for him. He’s got to be driven on his own to put some weight on, get bigger and go out there and compete with O.D. and Joel and James, but I think he has the ability to do it. Sometimes, it takes guys a couple years. He’s been a little unfortunate. He’s been hurt.”

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