Every-Thing Sports

Texans Draft: Need vs best player available

NFL.com

The NFL Draft starts up on Thursday at 7 p.m. with the first round kicking things off. It'll take place in Nashville this year as the league continues to move it around and make a fan experience out of what can be an otherwise boring event.

Fans will also be full of hope and watching in anticipation as their teams draft what they may deem as the players who may turn the team's fortunes around. The likelihood of that actually happening is rare. First rounders pan out and realize their potential as stars less than 50% of the time. As you go deeper into the draft, the success rate drops dramatically. Which is why making sure teams hit on picks, especially early on in the draft, is so critical to team success.

When a team hits on draft picks, they get quality cheap labor compared to what a comparable veteran may cost them. If Deshaun Watson was an unrestricted free agent right now, he's command a salary north of $25 million a year. Since his rookie deal is paying him an average of $3.5 million a year, in essence, the Texans have an extra $21.5 million in cap space to spend. They came into free agency with the third most cap space to spend in the league and acted as if the money they were throwing around weighed as much as manhole covers.

The team desperately needed to bolster the offensive line; they lost two key defensive backs that needed replacing in Kareem Jackson and Tyrann Mathieu; the running back, wide receiver, and linebacker positions could all use an infusion of talent. However, the team continued to put Band Aids on gaping wounds praying it would stop the bleeding. Maybe this is a smart move in the long run, but I'm skeptical considering the franchise's past. Don't forget about Jadeveon Clowney being franchise tagged. Failing to agree to a long term deal with Clowney under the terms he's looking for foreshadows a separation in the near future. If that's the case, why not trade him and get something for him instead of going the Mario Williams route?

All of this leads up to the draft. Now they're in a position to draft because they have needs. Being in a position to draft the best player available gives a team the flexibility to add quality depth and not rely on guys to come in and be immediate impact players. Drafting for need will often leave your team disappointed when the players can't come in and contribute from day one.

We've seen this happen time and time again. Good team building components are equal parts spending wisely in free agency and drafting well. But when you have a franchise quarterback on his rookie deal, you must go for the gusto and take some chances spending in free agency. If the Texans don't come away with at least two offensive lineman and two corners that can contribute within the mid first two years in the team, I'll consider this offseason another waste. Had they gone out and spent on these positions of need and gotten better than a broken offensive lineman and a corner who's on a prove it deal, they could've been in position to select the highest ranking player on their draft board. Now, they may have to reach to fill a need.

I'm not suggesting they can't still salvage this offseason. Perhaps Brian Gaine will hit homeruns with every pick. Maybe there will be some cap cuts of quality vets before or after training camp the team can add. What I am saying is beware of the position the team is in heading into the draft.

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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