Has a quick first step and good straight-line speed off the corner. Can dip the shoudler and get under blockers pads to turn the corner, and has good closing burst on the quarterback when he does to finish the play. Shoots gaps upfield to make stops in the backfield against the run. Does a good job in pursuit. Shows ability to beat blockers in space and make stops at the point of attack. Shows some on-field leadership. Has some ability to drop off into coverage on the zone blitz and play in space.
Needs to do a better job using his hands to beat blocker. Doesn't really have any moves if he can't beat you with his speed rush, as his bull rush is ineffective. DOesn't always play with the explosive first step to turn the corner. Needs to do a better job playing outside contain against the run. Not great when asked to make stops in space. Doesn't always win his matchups at the point of attack against lead blocker or tight end and needs to get off blocks better there.
Houston is a productive player that has the potential to develop as an impact pass rusher either in a 4-3 or 3-4 at outside linebacker. He shows the speed and burst upfield to be a rush end in a 4-3, but also has the athleticism to play in a 3-4. Very productive pass rusher the past two years as a full-time starter, with 106 tackles, 33.5 for loss, 17.5 sacks, and 62 quarterback pressures. Missed 2 games as a junior due to a suspension due to violating school's substance abuse policy in May 2009, and a third due to a hyperextended elbow. As a sophomore, he was productive off the bench with 19 tackles, 4.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks, and 16 pressures in 13 games. Hails from Statesboro, GA.
Houston is a bit of a one-dimensional edge rusher which is the main reason why I think he'll be able to impact much more quickly as a pass rusher playing in a 3-4 scheme. He has the potential to be able to impact as a rush end in a 4-3, but I don't think his technique is good enough and it may take him the better part of two or three years before he's anything more than a situational guy. In a 3-4 scheme, he'll work best in a scheme that will use him in a DeMarcus Ware-like role mainly as a rusher and run stopper, rather than working him in coverage. But he does show enough athleticism to think that down the road he can be fine when it comes to covering backs and tight ends in man coverage. In a 3-4 scheme, I think he can make an impact fairly quickly and potentially be a double-digit sack guy by his second year. That sort of production in a 4-3 probably won't come until Year 3 or 4. He does have that sort of potential in the latter scheme, but really needs to improve how he uses his hands, and could really help himself by developing a bull rusher or any other move. He's a good project to have there, but I didn't see the production against the better offensive tackles he faced this past year to really love his chances there. I don't see him as an elite pass rusher capable of getting 15+ sacks, but he should be a guy that when he develops can give you 8-12 sacks on a consistent basis each year which is definitely Pro Bowl caliber.
Houston could work in Atlanta because he certainly has the speed and potential to impact as an edge rusher. But he's a work in progress because of his limited technique. He has the potential to develop into the team's top sack artist and heir apparent to Abraham as a rush end. He can contribute in a situational role as a rookie, and probably could give the team potentially 3 or 4 sacks in that role right off the bat. He has the talent to think that he could handle being a starter in his second year if the team doesn't keep Abraham and inherit his role on the right side. But it would probably take until his third year before you could expect him to make the necessary strides to be an 8-10 sack guy. He should develop, but you just wonder how long it will take.
I think he has higher value for a 3-4 team because he's more likely to produce immediately as a starter in the right role there. For such a team he probably merits a mid-to-late first rounder. For a 4-3 team because of his upside he is definitely worth a first round pick, but probably should be help off until the latter part of that round because it may take time to develop him.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Pass Rush: 3.5
Point Of Attack: 3.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.