OFF THE TOP OF MY BALD HEAD

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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Many of the games have been hard to watch. Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

They say that breaking up is hard to do, then comes the rebuilding, and that's where the real pain happens. Last week, the 4-9 Rockets lost a tough game, 103-91, to the very average San Antonio Spurs at Toyota Center. That night, Ben McLemore scored 21 points, while P.J. Tucker contributed four points.

Every other point for the Rockets was scored by a player who wasn't on the team last year. That's no way to build a fan base of young people, or older people, or anybody. Because of COVID restrictions, the Rockets can sell only 3,000 tickets to games, and they're still having to offer special deals like four tickets and four drinks (soda, water, wine or beer) for $79.

The night the Rockets fell to the Spurs, DeMarcus Cousins was out with an ankle injury (surprise), John Wall was out with a sore knee (shock), and Eric Gordon sat with a lower leg injury (stunning). They were not sidelined by COVID protocol, it was age creakiness. All three are on the other side of 30. All have a history of missing games because of injuries. Danuel House also missed the game because of a bad back and COVID protocol.

The Rockets took to the floor with able-bodied Mason Jones, David Nwaba, Rodions Kurucs, Kenyon Martin Jr., Jae'Sean Tate and Christian Wood. They're nice players, for sure, they're on an NBA roster. But the NBA is a megastar-driven operation. How many of them would you recognize if they were standing behind you at Costco? The way the Rockets sign, trade and cut players, many or most of the current roster won't be around next year. Becoming a fan of a current Rocket is like falling in love with the Rug Doctor you rented for the weekend at a supermarket. It's going back Monday.

Last year, the head coach was Mike D'Antoni, the general manager was Daryl Morey. Both are established and respected figures in the league. Would you recognize the Rockets new coach Stephen Silas? Can you even name the Rockets new general manager?

And that's how you sink to 14th place in the Western Conference standings, inevitably a lottery team, the end to the Rockets' eight-year run of making the playoffs … the longest current streak in the NBA. The 2021 Rockets aren't just a lousy product, it's worse, they're a boring team. Gordon and Tucker, maybe the two most popular Rockets veterans, are rumored to be traded soon. Fans will have abandonment issues.

Maybe the Rockets should offer something stiffer than beer on "Guys Night Out" next Thursday when the Portland Trail Blazers visit Toyota Center. Good seats available.

That's not what you want to see

Did you see where the New York Mets fired their general manager Jared Porter because he sent explicit, uninvited, unanswered text messages to a female reporter?. Porter absolutely deserved to lose his job. What he did was awful and cruel. More than just losing his job, he should be committed to a home for the terminally stupid. Who does something that moronic? So unconscionable and abusive, on top of being job-killing.

But not all junk shots are meant to be hurtful – here's one that's actually funny, and totally inadvertent and innocent. Several years ago, a local sportscaster not only took a photo of his naked, anatomically correct body, he posted it on Facebook for all of his friends, indeed the world, to see. I won't name the local sportscaster because he was the victim of his own innocent lack of focus. It could have happened to anybody. Not me, thankfully, but anybody else.

Here's how it happened. The sportscaster was taking a shower, and when he emerged, he noticed his kitten curled up in the bathroom sink. Aw, isn't that cute? The sportscaster grabbed his phone and took a photo.

And posted it on Facebook. He didn't notice that, in the background of the photo, in the mirror, was his naked body. You can't say he was butt naked because it was full frontal nudity. You can't say it was a wardrobe malfunction because there was no wardrobe involved. Fortunately his wife noticed the mishap and told the sportscaster to delete the photo.

Here's the real problem, and his solid alibi. Whoever thought it was a good idea to put huge, wide mirrors in the bathroom, especially opposite the bath tub? There's a good look, you're naked, dripping wet, with patches of soap you missed rinsing off. This should be a fleeting disturbing image, not one to be preserved on film or online. Solution: don't bring your phone, or any photographic equipment, into the bathroom. We've all taken accidental photos. Nobody needs to see a photo of your disgusting body. You are not Michelangelo's statue of David. I don't let my dog watch me take a shower or any other business conducted in the bathroom. There is a reason that bathroom doors have locks. Use them.

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