AUBURN, Ala. — Jay Prosch will have a chance to help Houston turn things around.
Auburn's fullback was the first player taken at his position, as the Texans selected him in the sixth round with the 211th overall pick on Saturday. In a conference call with reporters shortly after he was drafted, Prosch expressed his excitement about moving into the next phase of his career. The pick didn't come as a surprise to Prosch, as he visited with the Texans and knew they were interested in him.
He believes his transition to the NFL will be a smooth one.
"During my visit, I met with the running backs coach, tight ends coach and we sat down and talked about what type of things I’d be doing in their offense," he said. "Everything that I saw were things that I felt extremely comfortable doing and really got me excited about it.”
The pick was also well-received by draft analysts moments after it was announced.
"Excellent football makeup, excellent work ethic. He's going to put in the time," ESPN's Todd McShay said. "He knows his assignments. Good awareness on the second level. He's compact. He's got a thick build and he's got some pop and power."
Former NFL executive Bill Polian, who now works for ESPN, was even more smitten with Prosch's ability.
"Here's why he'll play in the league: He can hit, drop his hips and drive you through any defensive player," said Polian, who built playoff teams in Buffalo, Carolina and Indianapolis during a distinguished career in the front office. "That's a rare skill and it's one that great fullbacks have."
After starting 2-0, the Texans ended last season on a 14-game losing streak that landed them the top pick in this year's NFL draft. To jumpstart their efforts, Houston took South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 pick on Thursday. Since then, the Texans' draft has had a heavy Southeastern Conference flavor: Prior to drafting Prosch, they added Alabama defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan and LSU running back Alfred Blue earlier in the sixth round.
And Prosch could play immediately. Houston's starting fullback last season, Greg Jones, has yet to be resign with the team. The only fullback on the roster is Brad Smelley, who has only appeared in four games in two seasons in the NFL and has never made a start.
In his two seasons with the Tigers, Prosch was a fixture in the lineup, starting 18 games. Last season, Prosch was a key cog in the Auburn's dominant rushing attack, paving the way for Heisman Trophy finalist Tre Mason and helping the Tigers run for an FBS-best 328 yards per game.
Mel Kiper wouldn't be surprised if Prosch can vault the Texans to similar success.
"He didn't grade out lower than 92 percent as the lead blocker in any game," ESPN's longtime draft guru said. "(He) caught five passes out of the backfield for a 19-yard average and a touchdown. Didn't carry the ball, but in short-yardage, maybe could be a factor. But he's a lead blocker dynamo."
The player himself didn't dispute that assessment.
"I definitely think it’s my blocking, obviously, and that’s kind of what got me here," Prosch said when asked to name his biggest strength. "Just being a hard-nosed, tough guy and basically crushing people. Also, I think I can execute extremely well and move as well and that’s something I’m looking forward to expanding on in my career as an NFL football player.”
Prosch became the fourth and final Auburn player taken in this year's draft, following Greg Robinson (second overall to St. Louis), Dee Ford (23rd overall to Kansas City) and Tre Mason (75th overall to St. Louis). It marks the most Tigers taken in a single draft since 2011, when they also had four players selected.
Lauded time and again by those around him last year, Prosch's position coach was glad the NFL recognized his player's contributions.
"Love me some Jay Prosch!" Scott Fountain tweeted. "Very proud of Jay getting Drafted by the Houston Texans!!"