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Prospect Profiles: Justin Houston


Triangle Numbers: 6-2, 270, 4.68

Scouting Reports:

Sideline Scouting:

Positives: Excellent size and build to play outside in a 3-4 scheme, has good bulk and above-average strength for the position… Sack totals have been very impressive (21 career sacks, 11 in 2010)… Pretty good speed for his size… Massive 34½” arms… Monster in the weight room, power cleaned 420 pounds during workouts in 2009, is a workout warrior… Was named Butkus Award finalist for 2010 as one of nation’s standout linebackers… Very humble and modest, feels the need to constantly improve and works hard to get better in every facet of the game, sets a good example as a leader for his teammates… Is very quick off the snap, times the count well and has an explosive first step off the line… Is fairly disciplined and plays with good instincts as both a five-technique end and an outside linebacker… Uses hands well when engaged with blockers, maintains balance and keeps play-side hand free on most occasions… Utilizes hefty frame and strong upper body when engaged with blockers, stays relatively low and will not get pushed away from running plays directly at him… Has the intangibles to be a big-time pass rusher and solid all-around player and leader in the NFL because of good motor and strong work ethic… Has a lot of experience playing with his hand in the dirt and will get looks at 4-3 DE as well.

Negatives: Was suspended for the first two games of 2009 for violating team rules, but has since stayed out of trouble and handled the suspension well… Tends to give up on plays when across the field, has a good motor off the snap, but stops when play is too far away… Does not take very good angles in pursuit down field… Tends to tackle too high and does not drive through every tackle, but can afford to do so in traffic because he wraps up well and doesn’t miss many tackles… Plays much more like a weakside defensive end on first and second down than he does a linebacker, can get too deep into the backfield and get out of position on plays up the middle of the line… Will never be very proficient in coverage, will be suitable to defend short routes in the NFL, but will likely be predominantly a pass rusher… Has only a year of experience as a 3-4 OLB, so 3-4 teams expecting to use him in that capacity will need to factor in a learning curve at the position.

Walter Football:


  • Strong upper and lower body
  • Long arms
  • Solid tackler
  • Proven pass-rushing skills; threat off edge
  • Explosive off snap
  • Speed to pursue
  • Hard worker; workout warrior
  • Experience as 3-4 linebacker and 4-3 end
  • Weaknesses:
  • Too focused on rushing passer
  • Limited experience dropping into pass coverage – liability
  • Tendency to quit if play is away from him
  • Still a work in progress after declaring a year early
  • Suspended by team for two games in 2009

    Summary: Justin Houston caught a break when Georgia went to a 3-4 defense this past season. It gave him the opportunity to showcase his ability to stand up as a pass-rushing outside linebacker. Teams running a hybrid scheme changing fronts will find him particularly appealing. More than any other trait, Houston’s ability to get after the quarterback will put him on the radar early in the 2011 NFL Draft. On the down side, he might be limited to being a situational pass-rusher in the pros unless he can improve his all-around game.

  • FF Toolbox:

    Few players propelled themselves up NFL Draft boards as fast as Houston did last season at Georgia. The outside OLB/DE showed signs of things to come with seven sacks in 2009, but nothing could have predicted this. Houston was third on the team as a junior in solo tackles (38) and total tackles (67), but he was without question the dominant force on UGA’s defense. He finished with a ridiculous 18.5 tackles for loss to go along with 10 sacks and an almost unheard of 44 quarterback hurries. Houston also had two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and an interception.

    Houston has good size at 6’3” and 258 pounds. He looks like a defensive end, and that’s exactly what he might play at the next level in a 4-3 scheme. In a 3-4 defense he can set up at rush linebacker. Houston has been clocked as fast as 4.64 in the 40-yard dash, but he will want to improve on that at the combine if he wants to establish himself as a sure-thing first-rounder. Prior to this season he looked like a third-rounder at best. Now that he has turned in a career-changing performance in 2010 and left early for the 2011 NFL Draft, Houston may have garnered himself a first-round selection


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    GiantsGab Thoughts:

    Wasn’t going to profile Mr. Houston, but the Giants are bringing him in for a visit, so here we are. Houston is a hybrid DE/OLB guy, probably best suited for 3-4 OLB, but can play as an undersized 43 DE. To me, he’s a lot like Clint Sintim, and we all know that didn’t work out well (so far). The Giants may be bringing him in for a visit to do their due diligence, to create a smoke screen, or, they are legitimately interested in him as a 4-3 end. He can get to the passer. He’s explosive off the edge, but I worry that he’s too small to get by larger offensive tackles. He’s not going to be a factor in the run game, at all. He’s going to be a straight, get after the passer guy. Is he a 4-3 end? I don’t know. The Giants are probably trying to figure that out. I would stay away, but on a 3-4 team, I think he could be outstanding.


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