NFL has mixed reviews on UGA’s 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 defensvie end prospect. (Johnny Crawford / jcrawford@ajc.com)

BIRDLAND — During the college football season, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper does  a review of the games on Mondays for the worldwide leader’s website.

While doing the reviews last season, Georgia linebacker Justin Houston kept catching Kiper’s attention. Some teams are scouting Houston as an outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. Others see Houston as a defensive end with skills to rush the passer.

“There were some weeks where he was quiet,” Kiper said.  “There were some weeks where he was dominant. I think this, instinctively as an outside linebacker in the 3-4, he might struggle a little bit on his feet.”

Kiper believes that Houston would flourish as an end in a 4-3 scheme.

“That’s where he can shine,” Kiper said. “That’s his best spot.”

Kiper believes Houston could be headed to Tampa Bay at the 20th spot or to New England, which has the 17th and 28th  picks in the draft. He notes that New England likes their outside linebackers to attack more.

“I could see the New England Patriots taking Justin Houston,” Kiper said. “I just think with his hand on the ground is where he will be best.”

UGA linebacker Justin Houston waits for the snap during a drill. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

UGA linebacker Justin Houston waits for the snap during a drill. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

The Falcons have heavily scouted Houston, who could be an option for them with the 27th overall pick.

“He’ll go late-first, but there are some people with mixed opinions on where he projects in the NFL,” Kiper said.

Houston, who skipped his senior season at Georgia to enter the draft, was an All-SEC outside linebacker last season.

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.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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63 comments Add your comment

cg

April 11th, 2011
7:44 am

what were Jamaal Anderson’s stats coming out of college? We don’t wabt another one of those.

jay

April 11th, 2011
7:47 am

Houston is no Jamaal Anderson. Anderson was a tight end before moving to defense if I remember correctly.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

April 11th, 2011
7:49 am

cg — I have to dig up Jamaal Anderson’s numbers for you. But Jay is correct that he played some receiver/tight end before being converted to DE.

42-34 Dawgs STILL Run This State

April 11th, 2011
8:02 am

JH will be a BEAST in the NFL. Wish the Falcons would pick him instead of Clayborn.

dean

April 11th, 2011
8:09 am

Love to have him in ATL but—>Just NOT Tampa Bay.

Season Ticket Holder

April 11th, 2011
8:20 am

The birds need alot of help a D-end! Hopefully we can find the right fit and not another Jamaal Anderson.

rodneyo11

April 11th, 2011
8:34 am

I think he’ll make a perfect fit for ATL. He can play on the End or outside LB. We need him

dan

April 11th, 2011
8:34 am

The Falcons have a workout scheduled with Kyle Rudolph TE Notre Dame. They will trade back into the second round for a team starving to move up to select a QB in the first round. We all saw how Ryan was dependent on Gonzalez and the Falcons need a great replacement not just an average TE that one could get in later rounds. The will select Ras Dowling a tall fast CB later in the 2nd round to sure up their seconday and then get their DE in the third with Greg Romeus. If they could get all these 3 which really isnt a reach I would be estatic!!!! Then fill the need for an establish WR and DE in Free Agency.

Bulldog Backer

April 11th, 2011
8:39 am

The Falcons NEVER draft a Georgia player in the first round, second round, basically any round no matter the potential, never. It’s a franchise historical fact. This is a franchise which selected Steve Broussard over Rodney Hampton, Jammi German over Hines Ward and on and on. The chances are Atlanta’s NFL franchise will pass on Houston, draft a typical Falcons’ 1st round Defensive player like Jamal Anderson or Aundray Bruce, generally known three years later as a “bust”, while Houston goes onto a great career……Richard Seymour, Marcus Stroud.

Frosty

April 11th, 2011
8:41 am

I know he can do a better Dirty Bird than Jamaal. And I bet he doesn’t enjoy bathroom snowstorms either.

Big Steve

April 11th, 2011
8:53 am

Jamal Anderson is a SDE — Housten would be a WDE. However, Kroy is more WDE and a legitimate player (and Sidbury also ready to emerge). Jamal has one year left on his contract.

Therefore, While Houston looks attractive, Clayborne would be the player we need as a SDE to replace Jamal who clearly never could make the next step into the NFL. (Jamal had a great Sr. year at ark — something like 16 sacks — so it is understandable why we drafted him)…

Clayborn is a beast in his own right…

This Gets Old!

April 11th, 2011
9:02 am

Sometimes sleeping dogs should lie. My god Jammi German? Aundray Bruce? How long ago were those guys picked? Is the guy that picked Jamal Anderson picking any players this year? You can’t “pre-hate” the guys who’ll be picked this year. The team IS the reigning NFC South champs.

Jeff

April 11th, 2011
9:16 am

Wrong Jamaal, Frosty.

coachx

April 11th, 2011
9:29 am

Anyone but Clayborn at DE. He was awful also last season with only 3.5 sacks and weak arm due to Erbs Palsy. I don’t want my strong side DE having a weak arm.

I’d be thrilled with J. Houston, B. Reed, or J. Sheard. They will end up replacing Abraham in a year. This is Abe’s last year under contract and he wil be 35 when his contract is over.

would be nice

April 11th, 2011
9:30 am

I don’t think he’ll last until the 27th pick but it would be nice if he did.

Joe Tess Fish House

April 11th, 2011
9:34 am

Who every the Flacons pick U can be assured he will another fist round bust!

@Jeff

April 11th, 2011
9:34 am

Wow, you’re quick.

get real

April 11th, 2011
9:35 am

Bulldog Backer,

I’m a UGA alum and you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. You spout off instances where the Falcons didn’t take a Georgia player but you have ZERO idea of how the Falcons’ “disinclination” to select Georgia players compares to the rest of the league taking local players from a specific school.

Also, do you think that the ghosts of past management and coaching still run things in Flowery Branch? What’s wrong with you?

Do the rest of the Bulldawg Nation a favor and keep your ignorant mouth shut. Fans like you are a joke and exhausting to listen to.

Band by Bedwetter

April 11th, 2011
9:41 am

Fist round bust!

QB/DB

April 11th, 2011
9:48 am

TD won’t give GT players who can play in this league like Anthony Allen a fair look and he won’t get UGA players who would be steals, especially in late rounds, opting to go get players from Montana, Furman and Richmond. Blah!!!!!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

April 11th, 2011
9:54 am

Frosty — You mixed up Jamaal with Jamal. It happens.

coachx
— Clayborn scares me, too. The arm issue and the big dropoff last season are of major concern.

Band by Bedwetter — Banned? That’s what diapers are for.

QB/DB — Was reading up on Anthony Allen last night. I was putting together my list of the top 10 backs. He’s a one-cut and go runner, but doesn’t have top shelf wiggle or speed. But I liked him during our interview at Georgia Tech’s Pro Day. He’s a really cool kid.

Joe Tess Fish House

April 11th, 2011
9:58 am

Im ascared cuz I no whoever the Flacons pix thwy will no dout be a nother bust.

Jmaal Anderson
Sean Witherspoon
Perrier Jerry
I can even make a case 4 Matt Ryan being a bust 2!

Joe Tess Fish House

April 11th, 2011
10:03 am

Sorry guys for the dumb posts. I know nothing about football and everytime I write something it shows. I will try to keep my posts to a minimum.

Crying over spilled milk

April 11th, 2011
10:03 am

waaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Big Steve

April 11th, 2011
10:05 am

As bad as UGA has played defense the past few years, maybe drafting D2 POY, Kroy and (I believe) D2 POY finalist Sidbury wasnt such a bad thing… Finneran was D2 POY 10 years later…

Kroy remains one of the key contributors on this team — and will play 10 years in the league… He is near unblockable due to his size and tenacity — as well as one of the most instinctive players in a long time…

I would rather have him replace Abraham as the 265lb WDE and get a bigger SDE — maybe we get lucky and Bowers slips to us and we rehab hiim for a year while Jamal plays out his contract…

@Jeff @ D Orlando

April 11th, 2011
10:10 am

It’s a JOKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
but obviously, not funny to you serious ones

D. Orlando Ledbetter

April 11th, 2011
10:11 am

Joe Tess – Pick it up!!! You have much better post than this.

Poor McKay

April 11th, 2011
10:42 am

DOL, is it safe to assume that the Falcons will know of Gonzalez’ intentions PRIOR to the draft? And that if we see them draft a TE in the first 3 rounds, that Tony is done?

Wasn't Jamaal Anderson...

April 11th, 2011
10:42 am

…something like just age 19 or 20 when he left AR for the NFL and the Falcons?

Leeman Bennettt

April 11th, 2011
11:01 am

I totally agree with Bulldog Backer! “Get Real” is the only joke on the board. Truly horrible picks with Broussard over Hampton and German over Ward. Laughably bad. I hate the Falcons and Georgia, but those two gaffes are glaring. Hell, Hines Ward is FROM Atlanta and will go down as one of the best WR’s in the history of the NFL.

FalconsFan284

April 11th, 2011
11:03 am

Joe Tess—–It’s not often that a person can make me feel sorry for them on a blog but you’ve managed to do just that.
Peria Jerry is much bigger than Wes Welker and therefore has to be evaluated in a different maner. Also, the injury Jerry suffered was much worse than originally believed. His knee is pretty much just bone on bone right now. That being said the man played much better as the season wore on. You’ll also want to take note in the fact that Thomas Dimitroff drafted another defensive tackle, Corey Peters, to compensate for Jerry’s injury. I expect Peria to come back strong and look good. He certainly has the work ethic to do so.
Sean Weatherspoon is no bust. He was knicked up last season. What you’re missing is that the man played some really good football when he was out there. There is no doubt that he is going to be a stud. Personally, I think he’ll make the Pro Bowl sooner rather than later.
As for your mental issues with Matt Ryan all I can really say is are you kidding me? Matt threw 9 INTs last season against 28 TDs! You think 9 is too many? I suppose the 3500 passing yards wasn’t enough for you either! What about the fact that he has proven himself late in games? I think he had six or seven come from behind victories last season.
I know what your problem is, you’ve been reading posts by such “people” as hiramsaint and SEENthisB4, and you think they know something about the Falcons. Well, I hate to break it to you but they are Saints fans that have nothing better to do with their time than come here and spread the hate. Here’s my advice, to you, go back to the ghetto, cash your welfare check, hop on a bus and go to the town where you don’t need brains, soap or the ability to think, New Orleans! And if you smell like a typical fish house, you’ll blend right in!

Tom Pridemore

April 11th, 2011
11:07 am

Falcons need a player that can generate a rush from the middle of the line to take pressure off the DEs.

Falcons need another OLB with speed too many RB got the corner last year.

Falcons need a RB with speed that can catch due to Ryan being a dink and donk QB.

Falcons need a WR that can run after the catch due to Ryan being a dink and donk QB.

Falcons need a KR specialist that can get the ball to the 35 yard line with some consistency.

Rikus

April 11th, 2011
11:08 am

Don’t feed the trolls. No one reads Joe’s posts… no one CAN read them.

North Ave Pocket Protector

April 11th, 2011
11:32 am

That’s a REALLY good picture of Houston at the top of this article.

I do believe that is the interception he made to end this year’s UGA whoopin’ of Tech.

Ahhhhhhh….. it just never gets old.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

April 11th, 2011
11:35 am

Poor McKay – He’s already stated that he’s coming back. He later stated that if the season is lost to the lockout that he’ll probably retire. So they know his intentions prior to the draft. If they draft a TE it’s for him to serve a year watching Tony.

Dominic

April 11th, 2011
11:42 am

Orlando I know you like Heyward and I do not blame you BUT I think the players they are looking at are 1. Houston 2. Clayborn and 3. Heyward and I hope they take Houston. By the way I am a HUGE fan of Leonard Hankerson, Titus Young and Greg Little (The Next Anquan Boldin) . Any chance they take them? And what about trading back up to get Kyle Rudolph or waiting until the 3rd round to get DJ Williams who is probably the next Chris Cooley.

BG

April 11th, 2011
12:09 pm

The Falcons need to draft Houston. Justin Houston is a playmaker..

bjohnDawg

April 11th, 2011
12:14 pm

bulldog backer…..you sir are 100% correct.

Orlando….you want to do a blog? Do one about why the Falcons always pass on the UGA players that are then drafted by others and go on to star in the nfl.

There is plenty of writing material there. And frankly I have never understood their reasoning.

Charles Grant
R Hampton
Hines Ward
On and on

I am sure Houston and Green will be added to the list.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

April 11th, 2011
12:17 pm

Dominic – Inconsistent players are always scary. Houston and Clayborn could be gone and Heyward could still be there. They have to be pretty certain that a DE will slip to them. They just don’t know which one. I don’t think Bowers will slip all the way to 27. Rudolph has a major injury history with his hamstring. Who was the last good NFL player out of Notre Dame? Derrick Mayes? For TE, keep an eye on Nevada’s Virgil Green. At WR, Jerrel Jernigan appears to be getting some really serious consideration.

ugaclassof2004

April 11th, 2011
12:19 pm

Falcons need to opt out of the 1sr round entirely. This draft is weak, no need to waste 1st round money on a DE when you could get a gem in the 3rd or 4th round. That’s how the great organizations build their teams.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

April 11th, 2011
12:20 pm

bjohndawg — I think that’s ancient history. They’ve drafted D.J. Shockley, Thomas Brown and Martrez Milner in recent years. Tony Taylor was in champ, too. I think they like Houston and Akeem Dent. The Falcons may pull a couple Dawgs off the board this year.

DC Dirty Bird

April 11th, 2011
12:38 pm

I like Houston with our #1 pick. He’s an athletic playmaker simply put. With his stand up skills we can play a few hybrid defenses to add pass rush. He could then eventually replace JA on the weakside. Can someone tell me why we haven’t gotten anything out of Sidbury. He plays well in the preseason then disappears for the last two seasons.

1Michael

April 11th, 2011
12:54 pm

Okay, so what if the Falcons trade their 1st Rd. pick for a 2nd & 3rd Rd pick and choose accordingly:

2. Jabaal Sheard – Pittsburgh – DE – (Very quick first step off the line with bad intentions for the QB
2. Jerrell Jernigan – Troy – WR – (Troy Flash – Wes Welker, DeSean Jackson, Percy Harvin w/o migraines type of player)
3. Marcus Gilbert – Florida – OT – (Big time SEC tackle)
3. Shane Vereen – California – RB – (Speed, elusiveness, and great hands out of the backfield)
4. Korey Lindsey – Southern Illinois – CB – (Small school stud with good ball skills)
5. Kelvin Sheppard – LSU – ILB – (Great speed and can play all 3 LB positions)
6. Julius Thomas – Portland State – TE (Former basketball player that looked great in East-West game)
7. Ricardo Lockette – Fort Valley – TE – (QB got hurt & RB became QB in wildcat offense)
7. Mark LeGree – Appalachian State – FS – (Ball hawking safety with pop in his tackles)
7. J.R. Bryant – Oklahoma/William Jewel – OLB – (Same height, weight, & 40 speed as Von Miller)

C/Mon guys, and tell me what you think please!

Tiberius on the Lake

April 11th, 2011
2:03 pm

Houston is just another dummy to come from Athens and flop in the NFL. He’ll be pushing a shopping cart around Atlanta a year from now.

There’s no escaping from The Cesspool.

MaxxFalcon

April 11th, 2011
2:28 pm

Justin Houston would be the ideal pick for us in round 1. He is going to be a monster pass rusher (our biggest need)and he’s a local guy. What more could we ask for?

cwltank

April 11th, 2011
2:49 pm

Houston will be perfect at outside LB. If he can drop 10 lbs and increase that speed he will definately be a upgrade over any LB that we have. We have similar ends, but he can rush the QB from the LB position. I say yes to Houston & no to drafting a 5th DE.

Olik

April 11th, 2011
3:03 pm

1Michael – I’d take that draft if we can lock that in. Book it.

Chucktown38

April 11th, 2011
3:30 pm

Can someone please give me the answer Can Ryan throw a pass futher thab 45 yards? I have NEVER seen it.

Joe Tess Fish House

April 11th, 2011
3:44 pm

hey mr Ledbeter…..U openly taunt me than remove my posts. U R a real tough guy.

Falcons relax...

April 11th, 2011
4:39 pm

I don’t like Justin Houston, too inconsistent. And Die hard UGA fans take the biasness somewhere else. Of course you want him to play of us. WE KNOW…WE KNOW…lol!