With or without Robinson, Texans consider corners

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
The Houston Texans will draft at least one cornerback in their eight picks this weekend, but they won't put a bigger premium on it to gain any leverage with Dunta Robinson.

Their top cornerback is upset over being designated as the team's franchise player, and the Texans hold out hope they'll be able to negotiate a long term deal with him.

If they don't, he'll wind up playing -- no one walks away from franchise money -- $9.975 million at corner this year. But he could try to negotiate an agreement to sign the tender that would make it so Houston couldn't use the tag on him a second time if he meets certain incentives. That's what Albert Haynesworth did last year with Tennessee.

Still, the Texans work at cornerback in the draft won't be Robinson-related, GM Rick Smith said at the team's pre-draft press conference Wednesday.

"Not to leverage the Dunta Robinson situation," he said. "I think that you can always improve your defense with corners. I think you've got to take corners all the time. You look at the two drafts that I've run so far, and I'm going to always take corners because I don't think you can have enough guys that can cover and run and hit and do all those things that we ask them to do. So yes, if there's a corner available, we'll certainly try to add one."

Later Smith was asked about big corners, and talked about how there just aren't a lot of them with all the characteristics scouts would like at the position in this crop.

"You'd love to have the 6-0, 200-pound guy who runs 4.3, has got long arms and can drop and change his [direction] do all of those things that we look for him to do," Smith said. "That's kind of tough. In this draft, there are not a lot of those kind of guys. It's a lot of the 5-9, 5-10 corners who run pretty well. But that's the ideal. And again, we always talk about it, you start with position parameters. You start with the ideal guy.

"You start with what (former Texan) N.D. Kalu (seated in the audience as a Houston Chronicle correspondent) looks like when you look for a defensive end, and then you work down from that. So it'd be great to do that. In the last couple of drafts, we've been fortunate. Fred Bennett is a big corner and he can run. Antwaun Molden's a big kid. He's 6-0, 202 pounds, and he runs 4.4, he can run. So we've been fortunate to get those kind of guys. You don't find that luxury all the time, but that's what you look for because of the size of the receivers."