NFL DRAFT

Long wait might have paid off for Texans as they fill three key needs in third round

Justin Reid should make an impact in Year 1 for the Texans. Michael Hickey/Getty Images

We all know why Friday night is when the Texans got their first crack at the draft board, so I’ll spare you the story. What I will say is that new GM Brian Gaine did a bang-up job with what he had.

Despite speculation that he might package a combination of mid-round picks to move into the back of the second round, he decided to stay put and pick the best players on the board. Kudos, Sir. Sometimes you just need to accept the hand you’re dealt and not throw away the future because of it.

With the 68th pick in the draft, the Texans chose Stanford Safety Justin Reid. They followed that by selecting Martinas Rankin with the 80th pick from Mississippi State to play on the offensive line. They wrapped up their night with another solid choice at pick 98; Central Florida tight end Jordan Akins.

All three picks addressed an immediate depth need for the Texans, but Justin Reid will probably be the only one to have a legitimate shot at significant playing time.

Rankin could easily slide inside for the Texans and will have a chance to compete, but the experienced veterans will most likely beat him out for a starting spot. His flexibility will be useful as he develops into a full-time role inside in the coming years. The Texans do hope he can play left tackle.

Akins is a perfect example of a late third round pick. He has a lot of upside but is in serious need of development. If the Texans can figure out how to use him right he has plenty of playmaking ability as a receiver, but will be a liability in the run game. He won’t be an every-down player like they want but he adds depth and potential to a huge area of need. Oh, and his speed and size should be useful in another area of need: special teams.

Considering the circumstances, this is a great start to the draft for the Texans. Three areas of need have been addressed in the best way they can by taking talent where the value is and not reaching because they didn’t have a pick in the first two rounds.

This looks to be a departure from the previous years of ineptitude in the middle rounds of the draft and Texans fans should be optimistic. There are still five more picks for the Texans to make on Saturday, but if Friday night is any indication then it might be a sunny day in Houston.

 

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Houston went yard several times

Astros take series from Angels with a home run parade

Houston homered their way to another series win Wednesday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

After losing the opener then winning an exciting game Tuesday night, the Astros were seeking another series victory by winning the rubber match on Wednesday. They would blast homers all through the night, pushing them over the Angels in the finale.

Final Score: Astros 9, Angels 1

Astros' Record: 20-17, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Brandon Bielak (2-2)

Losing Pitcher: Andrew Heaney (1-3)

Astros grab an early lead, Urquidy exits with injury

Houston made early noise in Wednesday night's game, with Jose Altuve turning around the very first pitch of the bottom of the first inning for a solo homer. A two-out single later in the inning set up Yuli Gurriel for his seventh home run and 30th RBI of the season, putting the Astros out to an early 3-0 lead.

Jose Urquidy looked in control through the first three innings, allowing just two hits while maintaining the lead. However, after recording the second out of the fourth, he would be visited by training and coaching staff on the mound before being removed, later diagnosed with posterior shoulder discomfort. Brandon Bielak would quickly enter the game, picking up where Urquidy left off by keeping the Angels off the board.

Tucker stays hot as Bielak locks in out of the bullpen

Still 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth, Kyle Tucker would extend his recent hot streak by putting two more runs on the board with a blast to extend the lead to 5-0. Bielak remained in the game in the top of the seventh, having allowed just one hit while retiring all other batters since entering in the top of the fourth. He made it through that inning, putting Los Angeles down 1-2-3, and stayed on the mound in the top of the eighth.

He wouldn't be able to get any further, allowing a leadoff walk followed by a single, putting runners on the corners and prompting Dusty Baker to go to the third pitcher of the night, Andre Scrubb. The Angels would get on the board with a sac fly to make it 5-1, but Scrubb would finish the inning with no further damage.

Astros continue the home run barrage to take the series

Yordan Alvarez would get the run back with Houston's fourth dinger of the night, a solo shot to make it 6-1. They continued to pour it on, with Chaz McCormick joining the home run parade with a three-run blast later in the inning, making it 9-1. Joe Smith would take over on the mound in the top of the ninth, finishing off the lopsided win to give Houston the series victory as they turn the page to another division opponent.

Up Next: Having already faced the rest of the division in 2021 multiple times, the Astros will have their first series against the Texas Rangers starting Thursday at 7:10 PM Central at Minute Maid Park. In the opener, Cristian Javier (3-1, 2.90 ERA) will be on the mound for Houston, going up against Mike Foltynewicz (1-3, 4.50 ERA).

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