Texans could draft another running back

INDIANAPOLIS -- In a draft class that wasn't especially productive, one of the most useful players the Houston Texans selected last season was running back Alfred Blue.

Blue was a sixth-round pick out of LSU, joining an armada of rookies out of LSU to have solid starts to their NFL careers. For Blue that meant becoming the first player in Texans history to score touchdowns on a return, a reception and a rush.

The Texans could look at that position again this season, for a variety of reasons.

"I think when you look at our needs in the draft, I would say running back is a position that we could look at," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "I’m not going to tell you exactly what type of running back we’re looking for, but that’s something that we could probably add to our team in some shape or form that would help our team if the right guys out there."

Arian Foster is still a dynamic running back when he's healthy, but with each passing day, the need to manage his health becomes more and more important. He turns 29 in August and missed three full games last season and parts of three others due to injuries.

"I think any time a player reaches that age of 30 or close to that age of 30 (you have to manage him)," O'Brien said. "And you know that the guy can still play, you know that he is a very talented player. Arian is a very talented guy in a lot of phases. He can run the ball, he can catch the ball, he’s a good pass protector, he’s a smart football player, but you’ve got to manage him. How do you manage that? You manage him in practice. You manage him in the games. That’s something we’ll always take into account."

This year's draft class is conducive to getting a solid running back.

"There is a good group of running backs, good looking group that just weighed in," Texans general manager Rick Smith said. "It’s a good looking group."

This year's group should include a first-rounder in Georgia's Todd Gurley or Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon. There's plenty of talent beyond that too, in players like Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah, Miami's Duke Johnson, Alabama's T.J. Yeldon and Northern Iowa's David Johnson.

The problem for running backs, though, is that there isn't a premium on snapping them up early. Teams have had so much success waiting with running backs or even finding them undrafted. Two of the three running backs on the Texans' roster were never drafted.

That could be a boon for the Texans, who draft 16th overall. They'll probably have options that could help them into the second round.