OFF THE TOP OF MY BALD HEAD

Barry Warner: One last look at the 2018 NFL Draft

Barry Warner: One last look at the 2018 NFL Draft
Justin Reid was a terrific pick for the Texans. Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The first draft of Texan GM Brian Gaine was done without first-or second round picks.  Many teams had Stanford safety Justin Reid as a late first selection. With the first of his three third round picks, Gaine wasted no time in getting a starter.  Reid has also played corner for coach David Shaw. With his impressive length and fluid hips, Reid will start when the season opener. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has the Honey Badger and the second highest rated safety in the draft.

Like baseball, you must be strong up the middle. Past safeties were poor in coverage, with some taking the worst angle,  constantly giving up both yards and touchdowns.

 “The more you watch Justin Reid,” Stanford head coach David Shaw said, “you put him in the category with the top guys in this draft at his position. You see speed, you see athleticism, you see versatility, you see tackling in space, you see good coverage.

“What’s so good is this guy is a tireless worker. He loves the game of football. This guy’s going to wear out the (defensive backs) coach because he’s going to watch film on his own.”

As they announced the next pick, the Texans took Martinas Rankin from Mississippi State. He is a guard or center, not the desperately needed left tackle. The move gives them depth at guard for the next few seasons. This season he’ll be a backup right tackle, behind free agent Seantrel Henderson, who has been suspended a few times for smoking weed.

I would have taken Ian Thomas, a tight end from Indiana with the next pick, instead of Jordan Atkins from UCF.  The former minor league baseball player excels after the catch, but is only an average blocker and will replace Stephen Anderson

The Texans got a steal in round four with Texas Tech speedster Keke Coutee, a slot receiver and return specialist.

Say goodbye to Braxton Miller from Ohio State, a failed experiment drafted three years ago.  Unless he studied both tape and the playbook and learns pass routes he will get waived.

Sixth round pick Duke Ejiofor, defensive end from Wake Forest, would have gone higher.  But he is recovering from labrum surgery and should be ready for camp. He’s a local kid, from Alief High School and will probably be a practice squad candidate.

With the second sixth round pick they drafted another Mississippi State player, tight end Mark Thomas. At 6-5, 250 he played outside receiver, but will need to put on weight as a blocker and move inside. Here is the report from one NFL GM texted to me after the pick: ‘Monster size, but can he become a legit blocker?  Has very limited football IQ. Talented but would only bring in as a free agent.”

I really thought this was a dumb, wasted pick, when a kid from Wagner College, Greg Senatt was still there. He’s 6-8, 290 and only played two seasons after quitting the basketball team.

The last sixth round selection, Peter Kalanbi, is another Stanford product.  The edge rusher is 6-3, 252 and has underperformed in college.

The seventh-round pick, Jermaine Kelly, a defensive bank from San Jose State, was the best player on a terrible team.

The Texans did sign three street free agents as potential left tackles.

Jaryd-Jones Smith, a 6-6, 320-pounder from Pitt, Anthony Coyle, 6-6-305 from Fordham and Karl Malone Jr from LSU, an underclassman.  For those of you from the millennium generation, look up his dad Karl Malone, which will be most interesting.

Jets get their man

“Sucking for Sam” paid off for Jets fans, hoping USC quarterback Sam Darnold ends the fifty years of franchise history.  Since the legendary Joe Namath led them to the Super Bowl upset over Don Shula’s Colts, the Jets have never had a top tier quarterback.

I had Darnold graded as the top QB, followed by Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen and the kid I think will be a star, Lamar Jackson.

Vince blows it

Former UT star Vince Young, a bust as a pro, announced the Titans first round pick. Instead of pronouncing the name Harold Landry, linebacker from Boston College VY called him Honor.

That must make all of his professors at Texas feel so proud.

Bad look

Perhaps the biggest moment on Thursday night was watching the Steelers’ Ryan Shazier walking across the stage with his fiancée to announce Pittsburgh’s first pick.  Upon reflecting a few days later on the emotional scene, the cynic in me could not help but shake my head.

It’s mindboggling that just five months after Shazier hurt his spine making a routine tackle the NFL is using  his horrific injury to sell the unifying power of football. Take into consideration how long the NFL and the Steelers refused to address whether he’d be able to walk again.

Many parents in our nation are at crossroads when it comes to allowing their sons to play football.  Ryan Shazier is the strongest argument against football, and the NFL used him to sell the future of the sport.   I don’t give a damn about the rule change on a rule on hitting with the crown of the helmet in the wake of the former Ohio State star’s injury.  the linebacker went to make a normal tackle, and he left on a stretcher. There will be more injuries like Shazier’s.

Someone picked over the weekend will have their career cut short by head or neck or spinal injuries.

That in itself is one of the major hurdles the once pristine NFL must deal with.

By the numbers

In an effort to suck in gamblers, Las Vegas wasted no time in publishing their first bet on number of wins each franchise would have in 2018.

The wise guys had the Texans winning 9.

Put me down for the under.

Chirp!

 

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Braves beat Houston in extra innings, 5-4. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Marcell Ozuna hit his major league-leading eighth homer and Orlando Arcia’s RBI single in the 10th inning lifted the Atlanta Braves to a 5-4 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday.

It completes a three-game sweep of the struggling Astros and is Atlanta’s fourth straight victory.

The Braves scored two runs in the eighth inning to tie it at 4-4. Michael Harris II started the 10th as the automatic runner on second and there was one out in the inning when Seth Martinez (1-1) intentionally walked Matt Olson.

Ozuna lined out to right field to send Harris to third base. Arcia then singled on a ground ball to left field to score Harris and put the Braves on top.

Pinch-runner Jake Meyers was on second when Kyle Tucker walked with no outs in the 10th. Meyers moved to third on a fly out by Yainer Diaz but Jeremy Peña grounded into a double play to end it.

A.J. Minter (3-1) got the last two outs of the ninth for the win and Raisel Iglesias earned his fifth save.

Reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. added his first homer of the season to help the Braves to the victory. Ozuna also leads the majors with 23 RBIs and he extended his hitting streak to 16 games, which ties his career best and is the longest active streak in the majors.

Yordan Alvarez and Mauricio Dubón both homered for the Astros, who fell to 6-14 and are last in the AL West.

There was one out in the first when Alvarez connected on his homer to the seats in left field to put Houston up 1-0.

Ozuna opened the second with his 432-foot shot to left field, which bounced off the wall and tied the game.

Acuña put the Braves up 2-1 when he sent the first pitch of the fifth inning to straightaway center field.

The Astros tied it on an RBI single by Alex Bregman in the fifth and Kyle Tucker’s RBI double came next to put the Astros up 3-2.

Dubón hit his first home run of the year off Jesse Chavez to start Houston’s sixth and push the lead to 4-2.

Harris singled to start the seventh before a ground-rule double by Austin Riley. Olson reached, and Harris scored on a fielding error by first baseman José Abreu when he couldn’t grab a routine ground ball.

There was one out in the inning when Riley scored on a sacrifice fly by Arcia to tie it at 4-all.

Houston starter J.P. France allowed four hits and two runs in five innings.

Max Fried gave up seven hits and three runs in five innings.

UP NEXT

Braves: Atlanta is off Thursday before opening a series against Texas on Friday night with LHP Chris Sale (1-1, 4.58 ERA) on the mound.

Astros: Houston is also off Thursday before ace Justin Verlander will make his season debut Friday night against Washington. The three-time Cy Young Award winner opened the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder.

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