KAZ’S KORNER

 

The Houston Texans will have to do more looking and talent-analyzing when the National Football League’s annual draft begins tomorrow.

This will happen because for the first time in the Texans’17-year history they do not have a first-round draft pick.

And for the sixth time in franchise history—and first since 2012–the Texans also will not have a second-round selection because of their trades last year with the lowly Cleveland Browns to get quarterback Deshaun Watson and dump overpaid quarterback Brock Osweiler.

Consequently, those Texans brass–Head Coach Bill O’Brien, new General Manager Brian Gaine and even team owner Bob McNair—will have to scrutinize the players being taken in the first two rounds, cross them off of the top of their wish list and intensify their search of prospects who were passed up in the first two rounds.

Houston will be heading into the third round where they have three picks (60, 80 and 98), fourth round (103), sixth round (177, 211 and 214) and seventh round (222) according to Sunday’s edition of the Houston Chronicle.

This will not be the first draft for Gaine, who was part of the Texans’ last four drafts before leaving for Buffalo in June.

Gaine is a disciple of Bill Parcells, who was a true believer in his personal scouting blueprint which called for draftees to be bigger, stronger, faster and tougher than the competition and sought a combination of instinct and ability.

Gaine learned the drafting process under the retired head coach and personnel director with the New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins.

Although the Texans have glaring needs at tight end, offensive line and, to a lesser extent, safety and wide receiver, it’s doubtful Gaine would pass on a gifted, big, tough athlete regardless of position.

But whomever the Texans draft this week, it is imperative he is not only a great football player, but that he also must not have any patterns of bad behavior in his past. Owner Bob McNair’s philosophy has been to avoid players with patterns of bad behavior because he believes they can become divisive in the locker room, according to the article.

The Texans not only focus on the character of sure draftees, but they also utilize their 30 official prospective visitors into Houston–players who may go in the lower rounds or maybe not even get drafted–for physicals, meetings and meals.

          It’s more or less a fact-finding mission for the team to have one-on-one evaluations with the prospects because the Texans take undrafted players very seriously.

         Perhaps the most prominent player in that category was former running back Arian Foster. Undrafted free agent discoveries include backup inside linebacker Dylan Cole, starting defensive end Joel Heath and kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn.

So, one of the most important phases of the 2018 NFL season begins tomorrow with the three-day draft.

KWICKIES…Houston Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien will have to decide on his best 22 starters in a hurry during training camp this summer because they play three of their first games of the season on the road. They start the season at Super Bowl regular New England, go to vastly improved Tennessee, come home for the fierce rival New York Giants and then hit the road again for Indianapolis. Their reward for these first four games in a home game against the state-rival Dallas Cowboys, who only play in Houston once every eight years. And if the Texans are fortunate enough to be in the playoff hunt Christmas weekend, their bubble could burst when they travel to meet the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. Hopefully the Eagles will have already clinched their playoff position and play their “scrubs” against Houston in a game that doesn’t matter to them.

Former Port Neches-Groves star golfer Andrew Landry played well-enough in the first two days of the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio to hang around the top 10 on the leader board. He then shot 67 Saturday to tie two-time defending champion Zach Johnson  for the tourney lead, and then played flawlessly Sunday to win his first PGA-Tour event with a four-under par 68. The two-stroke victory netted the 30-year-old Landry a nifty check for $1,116,000 and many exemptions to future major tournaments.

Alexis Henry starred at Bridge City High School in volleyball and basketball but found out her best sport was in track as a high jumper. She continued her track prowess at UT-Arlington and today the junior leads the NCAA with a 6-1 1/2 effort.

The Lamar Cardinals baseball team went on a late-season splurge by winning six straight in an effort to stay alive in the Southland Conference playoff race before losing to Abilene Christian Sunday at Vincent-Beck Stadium in Beaumont 5-4 in 13 innings. The Big Red stands at 13-27 and 8-13 in SLC play.

JUST BETWEEN US…And speaking of six-game winning streaks, the Houston Astros lost the first game of a seven-game road trip to the Minnesota Twins and then found their hitting shoes by taking the next three from the Twins and then sweeping the struggling Chicago White Sox last weekend. The Astros smacked out 10 or more hits in five consecutive games, outscored their two opponents 48-8, had a team ERA of 1.00 and a team batting average of .286. They outscored the White Sox 27-2, who stood at 4-14 for the season through Sunday—their worst start of a season since 1997. Houston began a 10-game homestand Monday against the L.A. Angels, who are hot on their tail, standing 1½ games behind going into Monday’s game. The Astros got to see Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani last night, coming to Houston with a 2-1 mound record and 3.60 ERA and a .333 batting average with three home runs. But the Angels had their work cut out as they faced three undefeated Astros hurlers–Gerrit Cole (2-0 and 0.96 ERA), Charlie Morton (3-0 and 0.72 ERA) and ace Justin Verlander (3-0 and 1.10 ERA).