A fan turns his NFL 2015 Drift cap backward as he watches the crowd in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Chicago. (John Starks/Daily Herald via AP)
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May 01, 2015

HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans don't expect Jaelen Strong to fill the void left when seven-time Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson was released.

But it would be perfectly fine with the confident Strong if they did.

''I look forward to stepping in big shoes like his,'' he said.

The Texans finally addressed one of their needs on offense on Friday night when they traded up to select the Arizona State receiver in the third round.

''For a number of years if you thought wide receiver in Houston you thought about Andre ... (but) we want him to come in and we don't want him to be anything other than himself,'' general manager Rick Smith said. ''If he does that and he works hard and he understands that I think he's got a chance to be a good football player.''

Strong admires Johnson, who piled up 13,597 yards receiving in 12 seasons as the face of the franchise in Houston.

''I looked up to him,'' Strong said. ''I watched him at the U (Miami), too, so I've been a fan of him for a while.''

The 6-foot-2, 217-pound Strong isn't quite as big as Johnson, but he's known for his size and physical style of play.

Houston also traded up in the second round to select Mississippi State linebacker Benardrick McKinney with the 43rd overall pick.

''We were aggressive and we went and got players but we got them at good value,'' Smith said of his wheeling and dealing.

The Texans traded the 18th pick in the third round with the New York Jets to get the sixth pick in the third round on Friday. They also dealt receiver DeVier Posey to the Jets in the deal that includes a fifth-round pick (152) and the seventh-round pick (229) they received in the McKinney trade.

Strong will join an offense with receiver DeAndre Hopkins and that has quarterbacks Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer competing for the starting job.

Strong had 82 receptions for 1,165 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior last season. That followed a sophomore season where he finished with 75 receptions for 1,122 yards and seven scores.

The Texans were supposed to pick 19th in the second round, but switched with Cleveland to select McKinney with the 11th selection in the second round. The Texans also gave up a fourth-round pick (116) and a sixth-round pick (195) and received a seventh-round pick in the trade with the Browns.

McKinney, a middle linebacker, led the Bulldogs in tackles the last two seasons and had 71 tackles, including eight for losses and three sacks last season. He also broke up four passes, had three fumble recoveries and forced one fumble in 2014. He had 244 tackles and 7 1/2 sacks in his three year career at Mississippi State.

''(He's) an active player, a tough player, a guy that can do a few different things within our defensive scheme,'' coach Bill O'Brien said.

The Texans focused on defense in the first two round of the draft before selecting Strong in the third, and they took Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson with the 16th overall pick before picking McKinney.

The 6-foot-4, 246-pound McKinney joins an inside linebacker group led by Brian Cushing, who had 72 tackles in 14 games last year. Houston continues to beef up a defense that features 2014 Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and last year's top overall selection outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney.

''It's going to be great playing with J.J. Watt,'' McKinney said. ''He's going to teach me a lot of different things, teach me how to be a great player like he is. I'm just going to listen.''

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