KAZ’S KORNER

2019 DRAFT SHOULD STRENGTHEN MOST NFL TEAMS

Now that the anticipated excitement of the 2019 National Football League’s annual draft has subsided, the 32 teams are evaluating how these newcomers can improve their respective teams this season.

The coaching staffs should know a whole lot more at this time next week than they do right now because of the mandatory three-day NFL rookie camp that takes place this weekend at each team’s training facilities.

The football beat writer of the Houston Chronicle graded the draft for each team with his opinion for each team given a letter grade. There were very few “A’s” and “D’s” given out with most of the grades being plus or minus “B’s” and “C’s”.

Closer to home, the Houston Texans went after offensive linemen and defensive cornerbacks and used their No. 1 pick on 6-5, 322-pound offensive tackle Tytus Howard from little Alabama State, who is expected to be a starter sometime during the regular season.

Howard was born prematurely in tiny Monroeville, Ala. and was called “Weenie” as a youngster because of his small stature. But he grew up fast and is now 100 pounds 

heavier and three inches taller than his senior year of high school.

Cornerback Lonnie Johnson of Kentucky was the Texans’ No 2 choice and was picked because of his tremendous size (6-2, 213 pounds) and speed (4.39 in the 40 at his pro day).

Houston went back to the offensive line needs and made Max Scharping of Northern Illinois their next pick, but still in the second round. He is 6-6, 327 pounds and is strong and physical. Coaches say they love his mean streak.

San Diego State’s tight end Kahale Warring was the Texans’ No. 4 pick who has good hands and is a good blocker. He has good size (6-5, 252) and speed (4.67).

The No. 5 pick was former Texas Longhorn defensive end Charles Omenihu who led his team with 9½ sacks and 18 tackles for losses. The Texans are hoping he can come off the bench in passing situations and pressure the passer.

Another cornerback, Xavier Crawford of Central Michigan, was Houston’s No. 6 choice and should compete for a backup spot in the defensive secondary.

The Round 7 pick was versatile Texas A&M’s 12th Man Cullen Gillaspia who had drills at running back, fullback, tight end and linebacker at the Aggies’ pro day. The Texans plan to use him at fullback.

The Texans were rated “B- by the Chronicle which is better than the C- grade of the Dallas Cowboys, probably because they traded their first-round pick to Oakland for wide receiver Amari Cooper.

The Pokes’ No. 1 pick in the draft was 308-pound defensive tackle Trysten Hill of Central Florida, the 58th choice of the second round who should start as a rookie.

The offensive line should be strengthened with the addition of guard Connor McGovern of Penn State while running back Tony Pollard of Memphis should be able to relieve Ezekiel Elliott in his first season.

The Arizona Cardinals got an “A” grade probably because several of their draft choices hailed from the Lone Star State.

Nobody was surprised when Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray was selected as the draft’s No. 1 pick by the Arizona Cardinals. He was a Texas all-state player during his high school years. Murray is probably one of the few athletes to be chosen as a No. 1 pick in football and in baseball.

Another Texan who was an All-American at West Orange-Stark High School and Alabama was safety Deionte Thompson, who was snatched up as the first player taken in the fifth round by Arizona after opting to by-pass his senior year with the Crimson Tide.

There were 13 safeties chosen before Thompson and some health questions made some teams shy away entirely about the former Mustang. 

He initially was tabbed as a first or second-round pick. But a rumored degenerative knee problem kept many teams away. The Cardinals are hoping their fifth-round gamble will pay huge dividends.

KWICKIES…The Houston Rockets were hoping to beat the Golden State Warriors on their home court last night and tying the series at 1-1 before returning to Houston Saturday. Golden State nipped the Rockets 104-100 Sunday in the Western Conference semifinals.

I forgot that the Houston Astros were being televised both Saturday (Fox Sports 1) and Sunday (ESPN) and flipped it on Saturday night just in time to see pinch-hitter Tony Kemp hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the tenth inning to give the Astros a 4-3 win over the Cleveland Indians. I remembered a bit earlier Sunday and saw Houston change a 1-0 seventh inning deficit into a 4-1 lead and victory when Yuli Gurriel ripped a double off the scoreboard in left field to tie the game and then after an intentional walk, catcher Robinson Chirinos hit one over the train tracks in left field.

Ryan Palmer and Jon Rahm fired a three-under par 69 in the alternate shot final round of the Zurich Classic to win the event by three strokes over Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood in the PGA Tour’s only team event at TPC Louisiana in Avondale.

JUST BETWEEN US…While Craig Couvillion, Bob Hoepner and myself were portraying our Weekend Warrior status Sunday at Sunset Grove Country Club, Class 4A Region III champion Jack Burke drove up to see how we were playing. He had just finished playing with a couple of his Little Cypress-Mauriceville teammates, shooting a three-under par 68. When asked what he’ll be doing between now and the Class 4A State Golf Championships May 20-21, he commented with a grin, “We’ll be right here at Sunset practicing every day.” The LCM boys team finished third in the Regional Championships which qualified them for the state tournament. Other members of the team include Mason Sterling, Jack Tindel, Travis Love and Wyatt Wozniak. The Bears’ golf team is coached by Bart Williams.