Chiefs Draft Prospects: Justin Houston


The National Football Post is reporting that the Kansas City Chiefs are scheduled to meet with LB Justin Houston out of Georgia.

I thought this was a perfect chance to review another potential Chiefs draft prospect.

Houston played his ball at Georgia and is listed as the 3rd best OLB in the draft by NFL Draft Scout. He is listed at 6-3, 270 and ran a 4.62 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine. His Pro Day is scheduled for March 22nd. He is projected to go somewhere in the first round and should at the very least, be a top 40 pick.

Let’s take a look at Houston’s scouting report from With the First Pick. Larry McDaniel did the analysis:

"Instincts/Recognition: Has experience playing outside linebacker and defensive end. Fairly good instincts verses the run. Does a good job at locating ball carriers after disengaging blockers. Is discipline in his run fits. Needs to improve on his pursuit angles. Is susceptible to delays and draws, because he gets too far up field. Against the pass, his instincts are below average. Often displays a one track mind when rushing the passer, which causes him to fail at recognizing screen plays. Also lacks awareness in underneath zone coverage. He tends to take false steps which causes him to be out of position when the ball is thrown."

If the Chiefs are looking for a pass rusher opposite Tamba Hali then Houston could be a pretty good option, especially if Akeem Ayers is off the board at #21. Still, what Larry says about Houston’s instincts against the pass concern me a bit. KC’s linebackers are woefully bad defending the pass and I think I’d rather have a guy who is more of a complete player. The fact of the matter is that Tamba Hali is never going to be a guy the Chiefs want dropping back in coverage. If Houston can’t develop better coverage skills the Chiefs would be stuck with two one trick ponies on the outside.

Larry says that Houston is a solid open field tackler and that he processes good sideline to sideline speed. He does note, however, that he has a hot and cold motor and will sometimes give up on plays not ran to his side.

But what about those pass rushing capabilities? More from Larry:

"3rd Down Capabilities: A dynamic edge rusher that is multifaceted. He can use his speed to bend the corner or his strength to bull rush linemen and collapse the pocket. Gets off the ball extremely well with an explosive first step. Motor runs hot when rushing the passer. Is a menace when rushing the passer and has the closing speed to track down mobile quarterbacks. Causes a lot of mistakes and turnovers because of the pressure that he gets. Wasn’t asked to drop into coverage much. Played the majority of third downs with his hand in the dirt. He did get an interception against Georgia Tech, but is still a liability in pass coverage at this point."

Again, I like what I am hearing about his pass rushing capabilities but his lack of skill in pass defense scares me.

I’ve been thinking lately about Wallace Gilberry as a possible OLB option for the Chiefs and I know it is a topic we’ve touched on here from time to time. I did a little bit more research on Gilberry from when he was drafted and his main problem appears to be speed. Gilberry ran a 4.94 40 back in 2008. By comparison, Tamba Hali ran a 4.75 and Houston ran a 4.62.

There are so many times I find myself wishing Tamba was just a step faster because he so often just misses getting the sack. As often as he beats his man, can you imagine what Hali would do if he was as fast as Houston?

Speed is probably the biggest reason the Chiefs don’t consider Gilberry a viable OLB option. He has good moves and a good motor but he is probably going to be most effective closer to the QB as a pass rushing DE.

That means a guy like Houston could give the Chiefs a very formidable pass rush. Having Hali, Gilberry and Houston all coming at one time could be a real problem for QB’s. It would give the Chiefs even more options and could make their already effective CB and safety blitzes totally deadly.

On the intangibles side, Houston  doesn’t really fit the “right 53” profile. He was suspended for two games in 2009 for violating team rules, though he did turn things around and was named a team captain in 2010. I’ve read a couple of places that Houston’s suspension was for violating the university’s substance abuse policy. I was not able to fine a source confirming it, so treat that as a rumor at best. The suspension was for two games so it may not have been anything too serious. The Chiefs may grill him hard to see if he has grown up enough to take a chance on.

Check out Houston’s full scouting report from With The First Pick.

What do you think Addicts? Does Houston sound like he is worth the 21st pick in the draft? What do you think the Chiefs should look for in an OLB to play opposite Hali?