BY MARK BABINECK
Associated Press
HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans on Saturday signed first-round pick Jason Babin, a converted linebacker from Western Michigan who is being counted on to strengthen the team's weak pass rush.
Babin is the first first-round pick to agree to terms with an NFL team. It is the second time in three seasons the Texans have been first in the league to lock up a first-round pick.

The Texans traded their second-, third- and fourth-round draft picks to acquire Babin with the 27th overall selection.

Financial details were not released, although the contract carries a five-year term with money payable over six years.

Babin played defensive end in college. If he quickly emerges as the star outside linebacker coach Dom Capers thinks he can be, agent Tony Agnone indicated the sides probably would renegotiate after three years.

Babin, 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds, is Western Michigan's career leader with 38 sacks and 75 tackles for loss. The Texans hope his mixture of size, speed and agility will give them the legitimate pass rushing threat they sorely lacked last season.

Houston's defense ranked next to last in 2003 and was last against the pass, largely because the Texans put little or no pressure on quarterbacks.

Babin credited the coaching staff for helping him make the switch to a new position.

"They broke it down really simple, really slow, explained everything to us," Babin said. "Now we're to the point we know what we're supposed to be doing."

In 2002, the Texans also set the pace with their first-round signing. The expansion team agreed to terms with quarterback David Carr before he was drafted No. 1 overall, then signed him on draft day.

Babin became the fourth of Houston's nine draft picks to sign, joining safety Jammal Lord, linebacker Raheem Orr and receiver Sloan Thomas, all late-round picks.

The Texans' next priority will be to sign cornerback Dunta Robinson, the 10th overall selection. He will start at right cornerback opposite Pro Bowl player Aaron Glenn.