Should The Chiefs Be Worried About Justin Houston?



Why isn’t Justin Houston in training camp with the rest of his draft class?

There hasn’t been a lot of talk about Houston since football has returned. After all, we’ve been too busy worrying about free agency to worry about contract negotiations. Now however, with the days ticking by, I’m growing concerned.

Houston is one of the 2011 draft picks that I am most excited about. By now you should no Houston’s story but if you don’t, I’ll give you a quick recap. Houston was projected as a late first, early second round pick at OLB. He was particularly valuable because in his last year at Georgia, the team switched to a 3-4 defense. Houston went from being an undersized DE to a prototypical 3-4 OLB. He racked up a ridiculous 18.5 tackles for a loss that year and threw in 10 sacks for good measure. At the combine, a 270 pound Houston showed his speed by turning in a 4.68 40. He was a lock to be a top 50 draft pick.

Then he reportedly failed his drug test.

Houston already had a bit of a reputation for being somewhat lazy and so this occurrence caused his draft stock to plummet. The Chiefs were able to snag him in the 3rd round with the 70th pick.

I admired the Chiefs for their guts. Taking a chance on Houston was a smart move. The value was too great to pass up. The kid has pro bowl talent and if the Chiefs met with him and felt he’d turn out ok then that was good enough for me.

Houston could turn out to be the pass rushing compliment to Tamba Hali that the Chiefs have been searching for. There is just one problem.

Neither of them are in camp.

The Chiefs are reportedly trying to work out a long term deal with Hali, who they franchised before the lockout. Haliu has reportedly no interest in being franchised and so appears to be holding out until the Chiefs and his agent can work out a long term deal. That situation will likely work itself out.

But what about Houston? What is keeping him from camp when the rest of his draft class, including first round pick Jonathan Baldwin are already making up for lost time?

My guess is that his agent is to blame. Houston’s agent is probably trying to convince the Chiefs that they should pay Houston late first/early second round money even though they drafted him in the third. The Chiefs, stingy as they are, likely have no interest in playing ball. In this case, I can’t say I blame them.

In the end, I really hope that Houston’s agent is mostly to blame here. I hope Houston is not disgruntled over his situation because he has no one to blame but himself for his slide in the draft. If he was foolish enough to get high in the weeks leading up to the combine where he knew he would have to take a drug test, then the loss of dollars is squarely on his shoulders. Houston lost a lot of money and 20+ draft slots thanks to that joint. Hope it was worth it.

The question is, should the Chiefs be worried about this? Is this a bad sign that Houston is going to be a problem child? Or is it just a case of a young kid taking bad advice from his greedy agent?

If Houston doesn’t get to camp soon he can most certainly forget about snagging a starting position. Andy Studebaker already probably had the lead in the OLB race and if the rookie holds out much longer the deal could be sealed.

Personally, I want Houston to get his ass to camp. I love Studebaker but Houston is much more athletic and will probably be a more dynamic pass rusher than Andy. The Chiefs need impact plays opposite Tamba Hali if they hope to navigate their brutal 2011 schedule.

I’m worried about Justin Houston. Are you?