NFL DRAFT PREVIEW

A.J. Hoffman: 3 players I like, 3 I don't in the NFL Draft

Lamar Jackson is not a player to take in the first round. Andy Lyons

The NFL Draft starts tonight, and by now you have probably seen 100 different mock drafts and maybe even more people telling you who is overrated and who is underrated. Obviously, where a player gets drafted can impact how good or bad he can be, but I thought I would profile a few players that I like blindly and a few players that I don’t. I tried to limit the “players I like” to players that I have heard others question. For instance, I didn’t pick Saquon Barkley or Bradley Chubb, because basically EVERYONE likes those guys. Without further ado…

PLAYERS I LIKE

Calvin Ridley-WR-Alabama

Calvin Ridley isn’t usually the type of wide receiver I rave about. He is barely 6’0” tall and is well under 200 lbs., but there is more to him than meets the eye. He is one of the sharpest route runners I have ever seen, and that combined with his deep speed and burst off the line gives him great separation, and size starts to matter less the more separation a receiver can get on the route. Alabama has put some pretty good receivers in the league (Amari Cooper and Julio Jones) but for some reason I keep hearing Ridley’s name falling late  in the 1st round, and I think he is a top-10 caliber player. 

Isaiah Oliver-CB-Colorado

I have not seen his name at the top of the cornerback rankings, but Isaiah Oliver has all the physical tools I am looking for in a cornerback. At 6’0”, 200 lbs. with a 33.5 arms, he is going to be hard to put a football over. He does a good job in early jams to force receivers to alter routes, and shows the kind of raw talent that could end up being way better than scouts currently project him. Oliver also has seen pretty good competition in college, going up against Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Luke Falk in the Pac-12. I think he would be a good fit in Seattle, Atlanta or a similar cover-3 type defense. 

Jamarco Jones-OT-Ohio State

Jamarco Jones is almost assuredly not going on day 1, and I don’t have a problem with that, but I think he should go early day 2 considering he plays a position that is always in such high demand. Most of the questions about Jones seem to stem from him playing in Urban Meyer’s offense, but I don’t see much not to like about him. He is 6’5, 312 lbs and his game footage shows him being a solid pass blocker and a really outstanding run blocker down the field. He has excellent feet and doesn’t get cheated against speed rushers. He may be the only tackle prospect that won’t be taken in the first round that I see as a potential day 1 starter at the next level. Teams like Houston, Denver and Indianapolis should all be taking a look at this guy. 

PLAYERS I DON’T LIKE

Lamar Jackson-QB-Louisville

Let me start off by saying I am not someone who thinks that Lamar Jackson should be moving positions or he can’t play quarterback in the NFL. I actually look at him as a high upside player who could be a special talent if he gets some fundamentals down. That said, I am not looking to use a first round draft pick on a guy who has serious footwork and accuracy issues. Those two things are much more important to me than athletic ability, which he has in droves. Another turn-off for me is his build, which reminds me a lot of Robert Griffin III’s. If Jackson had Cam Newton’s size, I would be less concerned about having a run-first quarterback. If a team can afford to use their first round pick on a long-term project with a seemingly high injury risk, so be it, but I don’t know many teams that are run that way. 

Christian Kirk-WR-Texas A&M

This might not be fair, because if someone is looking for a slot receiver, Kirk could make some sense. I just don’t believe many teams look at slot receiver as a top priority where they are willing to use a first or second round pick on someone who seems limited to being just that. He also has some issues with his hands, and too often lets balls get into his chest. He doesn’t have ideal size for me at 5’10” and could conceivably struggle with press coverage at the NFL level. He isn’t without upside, as he has big-play ability, he is a solid return man and by all accounts is a very high-character guy. That just isn’t enough for me to consider him a top option at wide receiver. 

Mark Andrews-TE-Oklahoma

This is mostly my way of saying that there isn’t really an every down tight end in this draft (save maybe 25 year old Hayden Hurst), and Andrews seems to be the most highly touted of the bunch. He has good size at 6’5” 255, and is actually a pretty decent route runner given that size. His hands are a major problem. He drops a lot of balls, and some of it is probably a concentration issue, but it is an issue regardless. He was a decent blocker in college, but can’t be counted on as a primary blocker in the NFL. He also seems to quit on plays that he isn’t involved in, which might be my biggest pet peeve in a tight end. 

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Houston dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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