Texans select Vandy LB Cunningham in 2nd round
HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans went with defense in the second round, selecting Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham with the 57th overall pick in the NFL draft on Friday night.
The Texans appeared to go for the best player available instead of drafting for need with this selection since they have a lot of depth at linebacker led by Brian Cushing and Benardrick McKinney. The pick comes after Houston traded up to No. 12 to get Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson in the first round on Thursday night.
In Cunningham, they get a player who piled up 295 career tackles, including 39 1/2 for losses and forced in a three-year career with the Commodores. He led the Southeastern Conference with 125 tackles in 2016 to earn first-team All-SEC honors for the second straight season.
He played on the inside at Vanderbilt, but many draft analysts projected him to be an outside linebacker in the NFL.
''Wherever the Texans see fit to put me, I'm definitely going to be an impact player on the defense,'' he said.
The 6-foot-3, 234-pound Cunningham is looking forward to learning from players like Cushing in Houston.
''That's definitely going to be a great experience for me,'' Cunningham said. ''I'm really anticipating really being able to get in and get started with it.''
One criticism of Cunningham in the draft process was that he missed too many tackles in his college career. He's aware of that knock and is looking to improve in that area as he begins his NFL career.
''I would definitely say there were some plays I wish I could take back, a lot of missed tackles, missed opportunities that I left down the field,'' he said. ''But I definitely gave my all and that showed up in the way I played, that showed up in how I played and what I was able to achieve.''
For more NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL