Falcons set to meet with Justin Houston

All-SEC outside linebacker Justin Houston (left) has 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss this past season. Some NFL teams consider him a defensvie end prospect. (Johnny Crawford / jcrawford@ajc.com)

All-SEC outside linebacker Justin Houston (left) has 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss this past season. Some NFL teams consider him a defensive end prospect. (Johnny Crawford / jcrawford@ajc.com)

BIRDLAND –  Justin Houston, one of the hot hybrid outside linebacker/defensive ends in the NFL draft, is set to meet with the Atlanta Falcons late next week, according to his representatives.

Houston, who skipped his senior season at Georgia to enter the draft, is considered the 28th ranked player in the draft by NFLDraftScout.com. He was an All-SEC outside linebacker last season, but is considered a scheme-fit for the Falcons at defensive end.

The Falcons pick 27th in the first round and have been looking at defensive ends and offensive tackles.

The Falcons like Houston’s ability to make plays in the opposition’s backfield. He had 10 sacks and 18 ½ tackles for loss last season. Houston’s 20 career sacks rank seventh on the school’s all-time list.

Houston bench pressed 225-pounds, 30 times at he NFL scouting combine, which was the fourth highest total in the linebacker group.

However, he has his detractors.

“Justin Houston from Georgia isn’t as consistent as I would like to see,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “But he’s another guy that people are looking at.”

Falcons coach Mike Smith told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that team will always on the lookout for pass rushers.

“You want to make sure that the quarterback is under duress and that he’s not able to sit back and feel comfortable in the pocket,” Smith said. “We always are trying to improve our pass rush. I think that we do have some young guys that will continue to develop, but that is always an area where you can improve.”

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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78 comments Add your comment

Falcons will win

March 16th, 2011
5:43 am

True Falcon Fan

March 16th, 2011
6:02 am

Are you kidding me — Why waste your time????

Falcon_4_Life

March 16th, 2011
6:44 am

I like his speed, but in the NFL everyone is fast. Would worry about size against faster stronger Off lineman? But if TD and Smith see something there, I trust them then.

The Real Falcon

March 16th, 2011
6:57 am

The guy gained 25 pounds and not muscle so does he have the discipline?

JohnGT Fan

March 16th, 2011
7:00 am

The kid makes plays. That’s really the important thing. He’s got speed and plays with a high motor. You get 10 sacks and 18 1/2 tackles for loss in the SEC, you’re playing hard and finding the right place to be. And at pick 27 in the draft, if he’s there, be really hard to pass on him. Just my opinion.

SeenThisB4

March 16th, 2011
7:07 am

If the falcan’ts pick’em, he’ll be a bust. He won’t be developed or used properly. It’d be better for him if he went elsewhere, like Carolina.

Rikus

March 16th, 2011
7:09 am

Please get us another sack-artist.

Gerald

March 16th, 2011
7:16 am

He is a guy that made plays but he didn’t allows show up .. Against Florida, Auburn and in the bowl game he didn’t show up at all .. Pass rush wasn’t and isn’t the Falcons problem on defense .. The Falcons need to Defend the pass and tackle better .. Cornerbacks sit back 7 to 10 yards off of the ball and drop back when the ball is snap .. No bump and run .. Robinson was sign to help out but he didn’t cover anybody ..

Larry

March 16th, 2011
7:20 am

“Smith said. ‘We always are trying to improve our pass rush.’”

One year ago today you had the best chance in the world to add Julius Peppers to accomplish this. Peppers was an even bigger and stronger version of John Abraham. You didn’t and you blew it by miscalculating the ability of Bierman, Sidbury and, of course, Mr. Anderson, as usual. This cost you a Super Bowl birth!

When will the guessing stop?

This team, in order, is a PROVEN DE, another Proven DB, a better LT, a dependable change of pace back, and a an NFL caliber Defensive Coordinator (like the Packers and Steelers enjoy) from being the best team in the NFC and possibly the NFL.

Stop guessing and messing around and get it done, Mr. Dimitroff, while your window of opportunity is still wide open!

Jimmy Crack

March 16th, 2011
7:45 am

While I am a UGA fan, I don’t like Justin for our pick. I agree with Mayock about his inconsistent play. That being said, DE is the position we need to fill and if Justin is the best available then take him.

He couldn’t be any worse than last year’s Falcons pass rushing disappointments.

42-34 Dawgs STILL Run This State

March 16th, 2011
7:45 am

How can you prove the weight JH42 gained was not muscle?

Ron "CHOKE" Mexico

March 16th, 2011
7:50 am

DLed, any chance the Falcons could trade first round picks with New England, move up higher from 27 to 17, to possibly get a DE like Kerrigan, what would that cost the falcons in terms of additional picks to get new england to go along?

falconfan4ever

March 16th, 2011
7:52 am

He is a good player. but, not the answer that the Falcons looking for a pass rusher. There are other players better than he is.

RambleOn84

March 16th, 2011
8:20 am

I like JJ Watt better…reminds me of Patrick Kerney.

Houston is a great athlete and can be explosive, but disappeared too often.

Dan

March 16th, 2011
8:25 am

An establish DE in Free Agency which there will be at some point and add a corner in first round (Jimmy Smith) or I would agree to get a DE in the first round if the Falcons are willing to sign Asomugha.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 16th, 2011
8:28 am

I don’t like this pick for the falcons , but i am not the expert but from my easy chair this looks real iffy at best .

ROD

March 16th, 2011
8:30 am

I agree with Larry 100 percent. They had every opportunity to get Julius Peppers, and they blew it. They blew it at getting a quality receiver to compliment Roddy White. I told Mark Bradley last year they would finish 12-4, and lose in the playoffs. The reason, they need another defensive end, and another quality cornerback. They need to go after Asomugha,former of the Raiders, and try to get the DE from Clemson, and add a veteran receiver to help sorry Matt Ryan. They are paying Thomas D all of this money, but he can’t bring the city a Superbowl. You can get this guy in the second or third round. C’mon Mr. Blank, Thomas, and Coach Smith, you all are better than this.

By the way, that veteran receiver should be Ochocinco, or T.O. I said it last year, and I’m going to say it again!!!!!!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 16th, 2011
8:39 am

CHOKE — Kerrigan could be sitting there at 27. They will be a good DE sitting there at 27. They just have figure out which one.

jalex49

March 16th, 2011
8:39 am

I hope they decide to fill the DE need through the free agency. As for CB the draft or free agency. I like Mike Ryan as our QB but feel he and Roddy needs someone to either step up or get a big-time receiver . Would be nice if they could swap a couple of picks this year and next for Larry Fitzgerald.

As far as getting someone who creates problems and feel they are better than the franchise and team-we don’t need-stay with character players.

Will be watching-can’t wait to see how the falcons go… maybe Larry F.?

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 16th, 2011
8:40 am

ROD — You are wasting your time. The Falcons aren’t touching Chad Smith or T.O. (Now, Plaxico did have his best year under Mularkey in Pittsburgh. That’s the one to keep an eye on.)

RambleOn84

March 16th, 2011
8:42 am

Fitzgerald would be awesome, but not sure if we can swing it.

YardDawg

March 16th, 2011
8:46 am

“Didn’t show up?” “Disappeared?”

So, when the Packers’ Clay Matthews gets no sacks in a game, he didn’t show up or disappeared? Not much of a pro is he?

Could it be that certain teams have a player who can match up well against another? Or maybe a certain offensive coordinator’s schemes can neutralize a pass rusher?

Think before you type.

Meli

March 16th, 2011
8:51 am

Isn’t the NFL on a lockout? Meaning they’re not conducting any business? So if that’s the case, why are the Falcons meeting with a potential player for a season that won’t exist?

coachx

March 16th, 2011
8:53 am

Justin Houston would be great at DE with the Falcons.

Those saying he gained 25 pounds of fat are simply misinformed.

He was already at 260 and gained 10 pouinds of muscel. Did you not see his 40 time ?

He would be a great fit on a defense that lacks pass rushing outside of Abraham.

Midwestbird

March 16th, 2011
8:57 am

I have said Kerrigan this whole time. I live by Purdue and see him week in and week out. A lot like Kerney..

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 16th, 2011
8:59 am

Meli — The draft will still be held. That’s why they are meeting with prospects. Season will be held eventually. Stay tuned . . .

mountain_jim

March 16th, 2011
9:16 am

Another agree-er with Larry:

Smith said. ‘We always are trying to improve our pass rush.’”

One year ago today you had the best chance in the world to add Julius Peppers to accomplish this. Peppers was an even bigger and stronger version of John Abraham. You didn’t and you blew it

hike!!!

March 16th, 2011
9:23 am

The best defenses in the future will utilize “hybrid” type players at both the linebacker and safety positions. Houston is a perfect example of these “new” positions. Also, what would his career stats look like had he played his senior year…he becomes a top 10 pick in the next draft.
Finally, he never got a ‘breather’ during a game at Georgia because he was their best player. With the Falcons, he gets to be a ‘role’ player and have the luxury of playing @ 110% when in the game.

dean

March 16th, 2011
9:30 am

Yeah, Julius tore it up last year. He had the almighty defensive ranking of 221st last season. And he had a grand total of 2 tackles in 2 playoff games! Yep, we should have spent the farm on Julius.

http://www.nfl.com/stats/categorystats?seasonType=REG&d-447263-n=1&d-447263-o=1&d-447263-p=5&statisticPositionCategory=DEFENSIVE_LINEMAN&d-447263-s=PERSON_TEAMS.PERSONS.LAST_NAME&tabSeq=1&season=2010&experience=null&Submit=Go&archive=false&conference=null&qualified=true

Hurt Kurbstreit

March 16th, 2011
9:39 am

Take him!!! Houston will help the Falcon’s pass rush and he is a good character guy that works hard.

dadgumitpaw

March 16th, 2011
9:49 am

What scares me is even the dawg fans on here are saying be wary of this guy’s inconsistency.

Larry

March 16th, 2011
9:57 am

Peppers 2010 regular season stats:

Sacks: 8
Tackles: 54
Passes Defensed (from a DE!): 9
Passes Intercepted (from a DE!): 2
Forced Fumbles: 3

Please tell me, Dean, how did these stats compare individually and COLLECTIVELY with all the DE’s for the Falcons this past season?

Further, stats do not always tell the whole story. The Bears’ vaunted defense had begun to regress the past couple of years from top 2-3 to top 10-15. When asked why the quick turnaround in just one season the Bear’s head coach, defensive starters and defensive coaches all pointed to one individual who’s 2010 performance and leadership in the huddle made everyone around them that much better and was the key individual that led them to the NFC Championship game–one Mr. Julius Peppers!

Think before you type!

doggoneit

March 16th, 2011
11:31 am

Georgia gave up too many yards and points last season. NOBODY is scared of Justin Huston. The films point out that He did not show up at times.

JONESBORO SLIM

March 16th, 2011
11:38 am

I’m sure like most of you have seen some good and bad comments on this blog…but without calling out any names there are some dumb-a$$ comments being made today like this one……… “Pass rush wasn’t and isn’t the Falcons problem on defense. The Falcons need to Defend the pass and tackle better”……..It doesn’t make any different whose on the corners if there’s no pass rush….and “Seen this before ” you better be getting your team together with all the problems the Saints have….

jp

March 16th, 2011
12:28 pm

I think it’s pretty simple for the Falcons, they need two DE’s in the next year or two. Biermann and Davis are backups at best and Abe is close to the end of his career.

Rod Johnson

March 16th, 2011
12:46 pm

Justin Houston would be a GREAT pick-up for the Falcons. I would be totally satisfied with this pick. Also, it would give the Falcons that hometown presence (i.e. Georgia Bulldogs).

Monkey Barf

March 16th, 2011
12:52 pm

“As stats do not always tell the whole story” neither do any of us know all the factors regarding the Falcons efforts or non efforts to sign Julius Peppers or anyone else for that matter. Thus for anyone to criticize the Falcons for a so called failure is totally unfair. As fans, we don’t know everything, but you would never know it by the posts that are made by expert know it alls. Monkey barf!

Mocking your Mock

March 16th, 2011
1:44 pm

I wish Houston was UGA’s DE this year. Lockout= Zero Interest.

JDawg1785

March 16th, 2011
2:15 pm

Seeing Houston in a Falcons’ jersey would make it easier for us Dawg fans who wanted him to stay for his senior season. He’d be a great fit!

True Falcon Fan

March 16th, 2011
2:17 pm

Folks especially you Dawg lovers – Justin Houston at best is a late second or early third rounder! You are kidding yourselves people, ustin was on a very “BAD” team this past season, sorry if you can’t handle that fact. Plus there is much better talent available defensive players the Falcons should go after instead of Justin.

DJ Sniper

March 16th, 2011
2:19 pm

First of all, Julius Peppers’s price tag was too high for the Falcons. We already gave Dunta Robinson a huge contract, and I just didn’t see us ponying up whatever it was the Bears paid for Peppers. He was never in our plans.

IMHO, free agency is the way to go to address our DE issues. It takes a while for a rookie DE to develop into an impact player. It’s very rare that you get a rookie like Peppers or Dwight Freeney that can make contributions right away. The FA crop of DE’s this season looks pretty good, so I predict we will go that route.

Falcon Jim

March 16th, 2011
2:48 pm

I see SeenThisB4 is here and still loving on the Falcons.

aprilglaspie

March 16th, 2011
2:53 pm

Are you all stupid, there is no free-agency. There is no way to pull this out of your ass. Boo hoo. the owners will still have to pay and they will not get dick in return.

aprilglaspie

March 16th, 2011
2:55 pm

Look up Robert Edwards. That’s the sort of crap ownerws cqn pull. Anything fair qbout that?

MaxxFalcon

March 16th, 2011
3:05 pm

I pray to GOD we draft this guy. I don’t know if he’ll be there at 27, but if he is we had better scoop him up immediately

MaxxFalcon

March 16th, 2011
3:09 pm

Justin Houston was dominant this past year. He is perfect for what the Falcons need as far as a playmaking pass rushing DE. Anyone who thinks otherwise is lost. Houston is the real deal

Falcon Jim

March 16th, 2011
3:13 pm

The Falcons need to cover their needs as best they can through the draft since there probably won’t be free agency this year. But they have less gapping holes than most teams, so maybe it is good.

Tallcarl

March 16th, 2011
3:32 pm

ROD: Please put the crack pipe down and slowly back away.

Benny Birds

March 16th, 2011
3:53 pm

Enter your comments here

aprilglaspie

March 16th, 2011
4:00 pm

What the Pats and the league did to Robert Edwards exposes them as phonies liars.