The Z-Report

Lance Zierlein: Potential targets for Texans in 3rd/4th round

There's a good chance the Texans will have to trade up to get a tackle like Joe Noteboom. Reese's Senior Bowl/Twitter

Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. It will be a long wait for Texans fans as they look for the newest group of reinforcements for a team that has some very clear holes to try to fill without the benefit of a 1st or 2nd round pick. However, there are plenty of starters around the league who have come from the third and even the fourth round.

We all know that the offensive line, tight end, and the secondary are the positions most in need of help, so let’s take a look at players the Texans could be considering with their three picks in the third round and their lone pick in the fourth.

Third Round: (68), (80), (98)

Fourth Round: (103)

Joe Noteboom, OT, TCU: Noteboom has the physical traits the Texans will covet and his Senior Bowl and Combine were much better than his 2017 tape. He’s a fast-riser in a weak tackle class and the Texans may have to trade into the second round to land him. It’s also worth noting that the Texans coached him at the Senior Bowl. (Round 2)

Brian O’Neil, OT, Pitt: Athletic, but lacking in strength, O’Neil is an “upside” tackle who would have been a better fit for Gary Kubiak’s zone scheme running game. The Texans could view him as a future starter if they believe he can carry more weight and strength. (Rounds 2-3)

Jemarco Jones, OT, Ohio State: Jones isn’t always pretty, but he gets guys blocked. His workout was really disappointing which could cause the Texans to question whether or not they take him. (Rounds 2-3)

Orlando Brown, OT, OU: Brown’s Combine performance was atrocious, but he was a little better at his pro day. He’s massive and finds ways to get guys blocked, but will the Texans take a chance on such a marginal athlete? Brown understands how to use his long arms and is a nasty guy as a blocker. (3rd)

Braden Smith, OG, Auburn: Built like a weight room warrior, Smith is a big, strong guard who has heads-up power but can be inconsistent against athletic defensive tackles. I feel like he’s a third or fourth round type, but he’s more likely to be drafted late second or early in the third. He could challenge for a role early on.

Will Richardson, OT/OG, N.C. State: He’s got a history of some character issues off the field which is likely to hurt his stock, so he might still be there for the Texans in the fourth round, but I’m not sure he would be on their board. Richardson is well-coached, but does have some holes to work on his pass protection. (4th)

Jamil Demby, OT/OG, Maine: While the Texans didn’t coach him, Demby was at the Senior Bowl and did a very nice job. He played tackle at Maine but will need to bump inside to guard. What makes Demby appealing in the fourth round is that he has experience at tackle and will be an above average pass protector at guard. (4th)

Wyatt Teller, OG, Virginia Tech: Tremendous muscular build, but he played much better in 2016 than 2017. He’s got good body control and hands and can control players in front of him, but he’s a little limited as a run blocker in space. (4th)

Tarvarius Moore, S, USM: Moore was a one-year wonder at USM, but he has some very good tape and ran a 4.32 with outstanding quickness and explosiveness at his workout. He wasn’t invited to the Combine which was a joke. He could be there in the third round a safety who can be moved around the field. (3rd)

Duke Dawson, CB, Florida: Dawson would potentially fill Kareem Jackson’s role as a slot cornerback with the ability to handle the run support. Dawson is a good man cover guy and plays with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. I’m a fan. (3rd)

Kyzir White, S, West Virginia: White is the brother of Kevin White who was a first round pick of the Bears in 2015 and he plays the game with a professional approach already. He’s big and very physical but limited in coverage. He’s more of a box safety, and some see him as a hybrid safety/linebacker. (3rd/4th)

M.J. Stewart, CB,  North Carolina: Card-carrying tough guy who makes life miserable for receivers when he’s jamming them off the line of scrimmage. He lacks speed which will hurt his draft stock, but I also think he could be a quality safety if he converts over.

Tremon Smith, CB, Central Arkansas: One of the hot names in the draft at cornerback. Smith has great speed and pulled down 15 career interceptions. He will take his fair share of chances which could get him beat early in his career. Might have some similarities to a young A.J. Bouye. (4th)

Dalton Schultz, TE, Stanford: Stanford tight ends usually play a long time in the NFL and Schultz is no exception. He’s limited as a pass-catcher, so he may not see the targets that Fiedorowicz saw, but he’s a junkyard dog as a run blocker. He would be an early starter. (3rd)

Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana: Ascending talent who is still unpolished. He has plus blocking potential, very good size and is a decent athlete who should get better as a blocker. He could slip into the third round, but it wouldn’t shock me to see him go in second. (2nd/3rd)

Durham Smythe, TE, Notre Dame: Smythe is another good run blocker who helped to fortify the Notre Dame rushing attack, and he could compete for a starter’s job early on. Like Schultz, he will have some limitations as a pass catcher. (4th)

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Kyle Tucker had a big day at the plate on Sunday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of the series, with one team or the other putting on a solid offensive performance in each, the Astros tried to win their fourth series in their last five by taking the rubber game on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Thanks in part to a big day from Kyle Tucker, who played a significant role in the early offense they used to power to the win, they would accomplish their mission.

Final Score: Astros 7, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 18-16, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Nate Pearson (0-1)

Kyle Tucker helps lead the offense to seven unanswered runs

Houston did not go easy on Nate Pearson in his 2021 debut. After a scoreless first, the Astros loaded the bases on two walks and a single, then brought the first run of the day home on an RBI walk by Michael Brantley. Another walk opened the door in the bottom of the third, and Kyle Tucker capitalized with an RBI triple to make it 2-0, followed by an RBI single by Robel Garcia to make it a three-run lead, ending Pearson's day one out into the bottom of the third.

Things didn't get easier for Toronto's pitching in the next inning, as Jose Altuve would lead off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer. A single and a walk then set up another big hit for Kyle Tucker, a three-run dinger to make it seven unanswered runs and giving Tucker four RBI on the day.

Blue Jays pound Greinke in the fifth

After four shutout innings to start his day on the mound, working around a few hits along the way, Zack Greinke tried to cash in on his team's offense to get another win on his record. He wouldn't be able to get it done, though, as Toronto would get after him in the top of the fifth. They would score four times amongst five batters that came to the plate, with a solo homer by Rowdy Tellez, a two-RBI double by Bo Bichette, and an RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

That made it a 7-4 game, and with Greinke still not having recorded an out in the frame, Dusty Baker would lift him at 88 pitches in favor of Bryan Abreu, who would get a pop out and a double play to end the inning and keep the lead at three runs. Greinke's final line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 88 P.

Houston takes the series

No more runs would come on either side the rest of the way, with Kent Emanuel working around a single for a scoreless sixth, Ryne Stanek getting a 1-2-3 seventh, and Andre Scrubb doing the same in the eighth to set up Ryan Pressly for the save. Pressly would get the job done, sending the Blue Jays down in order, including two strikeouts to wrap up the win and giving Houston the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will stay at home to continue this homestand, welcoming in the Angels for three games starting Monday at 7:10 PM Central. The opener will feature a pitching matchup of Alex Cobb (1-2, 5.48 ERA) for Los Angeles and Luis Garcia (0-3, 3.28 ERA) for Houston.

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