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Monday, February 18
Updated: February 19, 12:18 PM ET
Boselli is Texans' first pick

Associated Press

HOUSTON -- With face-painted fans shouting his name, Tony Boselli became the Houston Texans' top pick Monday -- the second time an expansion team began building a franchise around him.

"We have a Hall-of-Famer and we haven't played a game," general manager Charley Casserly said.

After five Pro Bowl seasons as an offensive tackle with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Boselli proved to be too attractive for the Texans to pass up, even at a huge cost.

Hundreds of Texans fans wearing blue-and-red jerseys and helmets with bulls' horns cheered the choice of Boselli, who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury that makes him something of a question mark. He seemed equally enthused about joining the new team.

"I've been with a group of guys that no one thought could play before," Boselli said. "The sooner this team comes together and becomes cohesive the sooner we can be good."

Boselli was the first player chosen by the expansion Jaguars in 1995 and quickly became a dominant offensive lineman. He has allowed 15 sacks in his seven pro seasons.

The first eight choices came from just three teams -- the Jaguars, the New York Jets and Baltimore, all of whom had serious cap problems.

"Obviously Charley knew the teams in cap trouble -- us, Baltimore and Jacksonville," said Terry Bradway, general manager of the Jets, who lost starting right tackle Ryan Young and both starting cornerbacks, Aaron Glenn and Marcus Coleman.

The Texans, who will play their first game against the New York Giants on Aug. 5 in the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio, also took three players from Jacksonville, including defensive tackles Seth Payne and Gary Walker. Baltimore, the 2001 Super Bowl winner, lost starting linebacker Jamie Sharper and Jermaine Lewis, one of the NFL's best kick returners.

The Texans took 19 players in the expansion draft. They also planned to make use of free agency and will get the first pick in the college draft on April 20.

"We got experience at positions that are hard," coach Dom Capers said. "We got two starting offensive tackles, two starting defensive lineman and a playmaker in Jermaine Lewis."

Glenn, who played college football at nearby Texas A&M, said he was happy to be coming home.

"I don't know what the Jets were thinking," Glenn said. "But I'll tell you, they did a favor for us. I think me and Marcus will do well on this team. The fact that we played together in New York will make it easier on us to communicate.

"Inside, you guys can never know how I feel. I've always been a fan of any team in Texas ... except the Longhorns. I never thought I'd get a chance to come back home and play football."

The Texans are expected to make Fresno State quarterback David Carr their first pick in the college player draft in April. In the 17th round Monday, they chose quarterback Danny Wuerfell from the Chicago Bears.

Wuerffel has been strictly a third-stringer for most of his career, meaning Carr will have to learn quickly. That was one reason the Texans concentrated on quality offensive linemen -- or, beyond Boselli and Young, what pass for quality in an expansion draft.

Sharper was a mainstay of the Baltimore defense that led the Ravens to their Super Bowl victory.

"I'm definitely ready to move on, I can get out of Ray Lewis' shadow," Sharper said. "I can play for Dom Capers' defense, the 3-4, where linebackers have a bigger part to play. I'll be able to get more sacks."

The Texans had to take at least 30 players in the draft or a lesser number of players totaling 38 percent of the league's $71.8 million salary cap.

Young, who has started for most of his first two seasons, has a cap number at $566,000.

"It's exciting to be mentioned with player like Tony Boselli," said Young, who said he was shocked to be on the expansion list.

Walker had played at Jacksonville for coach Dom Capers, who was the Jaguars' defensive coordinator. He was disappointed when his name first appeared on the team's unprotected list.

Walker started all 16 games for the Jaguars last season and ranked third among defensive tackles in the NFL with 7 sacks.

Walker is the only link among Monday's selections to the former Houston Oilers, who left after the 1996 season for Tennessee. Walker played two seasons in Houston and two more with the Titans.

He pointed out that the city's annoyance was with owner Bud Adams, not the team.

"The fans never hated us," Walker said. "They had it with Bud. I had a great time here. This is a football city and they loved us. But I couldn't blame them being mad at Bud. Why fall in love with a team that's not going to be here?"

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Texans' owner Bob McNair selects Tony Boselli with the first overall pick.
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Tony Boselli details his future in Houston with ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
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Coach Dom Capers and ESPN's Chris Mortensen discuss what lies ahead for the Houston Texans.
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