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“We actually had second- or third-round grades on him,” Smith said. “Very competitive player at the position and has some skill. We moved back in the fourth round and were still able to pick him up and acquire those two extra picks in the fifth.”
The 6-4, 220-pound Yates is the sixth quarterback drafted by Houston and the first since Alex Brink was taken in the seventh round in 2008. Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and Kubiak both said Yates reminds them of current starter Matt Schaub.
The Texans had the league’s top passing offense in 2009 (291 yards per game) and the No. 4 passing offense last season (259 yards per game). Kubiak says Yates guided an almost identical system in Chapel Hill, another attractive quality.
“This kid is a fine player and had a very solid career in college,” Kubiak said. “Nowadays, we look at some players who have one-year careers. This kid had a nice four-year career and played his best as a senior. I like everything he stands for. We’re very fortunate.”
The 6-6, 314-pound Newton started all 12 games for the Red Wolves last season and was a first-team All-Sun Belt selection.
Kubiak said the 6-2, 255-pound Ozougwu will play linebacker. He’ll graduate from Rice in May with an economics degree, and Kubiak said his intelligence was one of the main traits that caught Houston’s attention.
“He can rush the passer, very smart young man,” Kubiak said. “He’ll play four different positions for us on defense and be a heck of a special-teams player. He, like a bunch of these players, has a high football IQ and a high motor. We think he’ll find a way to make it in this league.”
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