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