2015 NFL DRAFT BEGINS TOMORROW IN CHICAGO

There has been a ton of speculation as to which of the two talented quarterbacks will be selected tomorrow (Thursday) in the 2015 National Football League’s annual draft being held in Chicago—Florida State’s Jameis Winston or Oregon’s Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.

Others are hoping a running back will be selected in the first round after not happening for several past drafts. The top two candidates in this category have to be Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon or Georgia’s Todd Gurley.

And the talk around Southeast Texas is that former West Orange-Stark and Lamar University’s star wide receiver Mark Roberts will be chosen as a late draft choice or even as a free agent this weekend.

Winston is the best bet to go to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the No. 1 pick in the first round because he is a great pocket passer, which is what NFL teams look for in a starting quarterback, has a great work ethic but is questionable about some of the antics he has pulled while in his street clothes.

He was cited for shoplifting crab legs while quarterbacking Florida State and punished for jumping onto a campus table and shouting four-letter words that would make a sailor blush. But his most serious escapade was when he was accused—though not charged–with raping a female student.

His accuser, since transferred from FSU, is pursuing a federal lawsuit against Florida State claiming an inadequate investigation violated her civil rights.

Mariota has been accused by some in the know as having dinked and dunked his way to the Heisman Trophy. But of the top collegiate quarterbacks, Mariota led the way with a 54.4 per cent completion success, while Winston was 12th with a 44.1 completion percentage despite remaining in the pocket most of the time.

Winston threw four more interceptions in 13 games last season than Mariota did in his 41-game collegiate career. Since 2012, Mariota has won 36 starts—including a 59-20 Rose Bowl rout of Winston’s Seminoles. That’s seven more wins than any other college starting quarterback in that span.

However Mariota still ends up as one of the big mysteries of tomorrow’s first round of the draft. The second team to pick after Tampa Bay is the Tennessee Titans, but Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt and his general manager Ruston Webster prefer big- stature pocket passers like Zach Mettenberger, their sixth-round pick last year.

The 6-5, 244-pound Mettenberger is a pure pocket passer who started six games in his rookie year for Tennessee last season and threw for 1,412 yards and eight touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Whisenhunt and Webster must decide whether they collectively think that Mettenberger is good enough for them to pass on Mariota and perhaps trade their No. 2 draft pick to a team that really needs a quarterback.

Gurley and Gordon are expected to be selected in the middle of tomorrow’s first round of the draft.

           Gurley is rated as the best running back in the draft, but missed some of the 2014 season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament and was unable to participate in the NFL scouting combine in February and was merely a spectator at his pro day at Athens, Ga. in March.

There’s no question about his ability or work ethic or anything else football-wise. The question is how his bad knee will hold up over a five-to-seven year career. There’s no doubt that when healthy, Gurley is the most complete running back in the draft.

Gordon fashioned twelve 100-yard games, including a then-record-setting 408-yard performance against Nebraska which catapulted him into a probable first-round pick.

            If for some reason Gordon slides toward the end of the first round or into the second, it could be because of his ball-security issues after his seven fumbles in 2014 and his readiness to help an NFL team in the passing game.

If Orange-native Roberts is drafted in the later rounds, he will be the first player drafted from Orange since Earl Thomas six years ago. And he will be the first Lamar University football player drafted since wide receiver Tyrone Shavers was drafted in 1990, when the NFL Draft was 12 rounds.

The lanky (6-3, 187 pounds) Roberts latched on to 46 passes for 1,157 yards and 13 touchdowns, was named to the third team Associated Press All America team and earned first team all-Southland Conference honors.

KWICKIES…The Lamar Cardinals’ baseball team will have their work cut out as the season winds down after losing two-of-three at home to Incarnate Word. The Redbirds’ bats just went dead in the first two games, although they salvaged a brilliant pitching performance Friday night by former Bridge City’s ace left-hander Chase Angelle, who blanked the visitors on four hits. Lamar scored the game’s only run in the bottom of the ninth inning on a walk and a pair of mis-played bunts. But the Cards’ did a better job of hitting by banging out 11 hits but stranding 10 runners on base Saturday and lost 2-0. Sunday it was the relief pitching that faltered as the Big Red’s moundsmen had trouble finding the strike zone and when they did, allowed some timely hits and failed to protect a 6-4 lead over the final three innings and lost 8-6. Lamar currently stands at 8-13 in the Southland Conference and 19-24 overall and swings back into SLC play this weekend against Southeastern Louisiana with a three-game series.

And while on the subject of baseball, our Houston Astros have won five-of-six games on their current swing on the Left Coast through Sunday, sweeping the Oakland A’s for the first time ever last weekend, with two of the three victories being the come-from-behind wins. Actually, the ‘Stroes have won six or their last seven games and conclude the nine-game road trip with three games at San Diego that began Monday night.

Justin Rose birdied the last two holes Sunday to win the Zurich Classic by one stroke over Cameron Tringale at the TPC Louisiana course near New Orleans. It was Rose’s seventh PGA Tour title and his first in 2015 after failing to finish better than 37th in his first five starts this year. Rose fired rounds of 69-66-65-66—266 which is 22 strokes under par and collected a check for $1,242,000.

St. Louis Cardinals ace right-hander Adam Wainwright suffered what probably will be a season-ending injury to his Achilles and left ankle while batting Saturday.

The Chicago Cubbies are off to their best start of a season since 2008 at 10-7 through Sunday under first-year manager Joe Maddon.

JUST BETWEEN US…According to the Louisville Courier-Journal’s coast-to-coast panel of horse racing media experts, their top two choices in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby are Bob Baffert -trained American Pharoah and his undefeated stablemate

Dortmund. American Pharoah breezed to an eight-length win in the Arkansas Derby on April 11 while Dortmund won the Santa Anita Derby a week earlier with similar ease, winning by 4 1/4 lengths. Expected to give these two super horses a run for the roses should be Carpe Diem, Frosted and International Star. A couple of long shots worth looking at are Ocho Ocho Ocho and Mr. Z. I personally like Dortmund.