Good news/bad news: Mel Kiper likes UGA’s Justin Houston

This quarterback has a problem -- by the name of Houston. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

This quarterback has a problem -- by the name of Houston. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

If any Bulldog figured to benefit from the switch to the 3-4, it was Justin Houston. He has 8 1/2 sacks through eight games, not far off the 15-for-the-season pace forecast in this space back in August. (Not that I’m smart or anything. I just happen to know enough about the 3-4 to understand that “weakside linebacker” means “lots of sacks.”)

And now the famous Mel Kiper of ESPN has released his newest Big Board for the 2011 NFL draft, and the man who was just named the SEC’s defensive player of the week for his work against Kentucky has risen to No. 17. (Houston wasn’t rated in the previous installment.)

The good news is that another Georgia player is getting recognized for his great work. The bad news is that, as is also the case with wide receiver A.J. Green, who’s rated the No. 2 overall prospect by Kiper, the Georgia player is a junior. Meaning: There’s a good chance a year’s eligibility will be left on the figurative table, as was the case with Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno and Asher Allen and Rennie Curran and Reshad Jones.

But that’s the price of doing business in big-time college football: Good players get noticed, and not just seniors. And Houston is really, really good. Writes Kiper (all Mel links require registration): “To say the transition [to the 3-4] has been a smooth one is a major understatement … When looking at the current outside linebacker crop from the 2012 class, he clearly projects as the best 3-4 outside linebacker of the group.

That’s correct. Kiper wrote “the 2012 class.” But the NFL allows juniors to enter the draft — ask Georgia Tech fans about that — and the rule of thumb is: If you’re projected anywhere close to Round 1, you leave. And No. 17 isn’t just anywhere close; it’s on the cusp of Round 1’s first half.

Ah, well. UGA fans can’t be shocked. When you hire an NFL coach to coordinate your defense and you tutor the converted linebacker by showing him film of the Dallas Cowboys’ DeMarcus Ware, you shouldn’t really be surprised if the pros note the resemblance.

76 comments Add your comment

destin dawg

October 28th, 2010
9:04 am

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2010
9:04 am

Kudos, destin dawg.

Stockdog

October 28th, 2010
9:05 am

Stockdog

October 28th, 2010
9:06 am

Close but no cigar. I agree Mark, Houston and Green are gone to the NFL. You can’t turn down that type of money. Also, I don’t think that there will be a lock out, so both are gone.

Hurt Kurbstreit

October 28th, 2010
9:07 am

Rats, just missed first. Mel. keep your paws off of Justin Hustin and AJ Greeen.

Fanchero

October 28th, 2010
9:07 am

Not suprised…. we lose all the good ones! I wonder though if these ‘juniors’ that are high prospects have figured out they may not receive all the money they are looking for come draft day? Heck the NFL may be on strike and not even pay rookies more than a bare minimum? The money isn’t always there…

Joshua Barlowe

October 28th, 2010
9:10 am

Kiper must be good friend’s with Justin’s agent. (See Sports Illustrated)

Worm

October 28th, 2010
9:10 am

houston is injured!..Been kept quiet.

destin dawg

October 28th, 2010
9:11 am

yes… Grantham, Belin, and Lakatos.. making a big difference over soft Willie… defence will be real Junkyard Dawgs in next couple years !!! now mix up plays on offence… use TE’s.. kicking game and special teams.. one or 2 trickeration plays/ reverse/fake punt to keep ‘em off balance… Go Dawgs !!!! beat gators !!!

Mike Jay

October 28th, 2010
9:12 am

Yea, will be curious to see how the labor disoute effect the juniors decisions. IF they cap rookie salaries (which they should) I got a feeling quite a few might stick around. Hell they can get illegal hand outs that might equal or exceed their rookie salaries to stay. :)

Ted M

October 28th, 2010
9:13 am

Wow …he’s huge 6′3″ 259lbs.

Jackets2010

October 28th, 2010
9:13 am

Like for Dwyer.
His lack of speed should have projected him lower and maybe he stays another year.

Jackets2010

October 28th, 2010
9:15 am

Reggie Bush is the way to go?

Hobnailbooty

October 28th, 2010
9:16 am

Darn NFL . Also UGAVIII is undefeated so lets keep the streak alive!!! HBTD

McDawg

October 28th, 2010
9:17 am

that was obvious after last season

Rainey will die... playing Halo.

October 28th, 2010
9:18 am

He is good. Looks like a beast out there. I hope he decapitates Rainey.

I sure wish, destin dawg...

October 28th, 2010
9:19 am

…that you guys would learn to spell defenSe…and offenSe, too…

And, Mike Jay, let’s see, the new rookie scale would be at least a base salary of $380K for 16 – 18 weeks work, plus a bonus of, say, no more than say $2mil (with the bonus money guaranteed) – do you really think any kid will stay in college to ONLY earn that much to play football…

Alphare

October 28th, 2010
9:19 am

Among good UGA players, I think Stafford is the overrated. He got a cannon arm, but he doesn’t really have “it”.

Jackets2010

October 28th, 2010
9:21 am

If Tech’s juniors had to stay, Jackets win NC.
If Georgia’s have to stay, Dawgs win the NC the next year.
We might even could be civil to each other for awhile.

Ted M

October 28th, 2010
9:22 am

Moreno is starting to seem overrated.

Jackets2010

October 28th, 2010
9:23 am

If you take illegal money, don’t u risk being another Reggie Bush?
Isn’t illegal money what got the dawgs off course this year?

Chip

October 28th, 2010
9:27 am

What about the possible Lockout? If these guys think they wanna go to the NFL early, sign with an agent, get drafted in the 1st round and then there’s a Lockout… It doesn’t matter if they are #1 picks or not…

If there’s a lockout, they’re not gonna get paid I would assume (that would make for a great article though as to the prospects of these Draft picks and if there’s a lockout how that would impact them?)

In other words, I would rather Play on more year in college and try for that Championship (SEC or National) – and then enter the draft the following year with more security as to actually Not being involved in a Lockout and thus Getting Paid !!!

Could be very interesting for these Jr’s and their decision to leave early!!! And I hope that Houston and Green do indeed stay – but I could not blame them one bit for leaving early if they KNOW they are gonna get paid !

Andy

October 28th, 2010
9:28 am

My boss and I were just discussing this yesterday. I was sure that he was probably going to be leaving for the draft. That’s ok. When you have great players they get national attention. It’s good for UGA in the long run.

Lowcountry Bulldawgs

October 28th, 2010
9:31 am

No shocker, he is beginning to put up the stats and the highlight package plays. He definetly has top 15 type talent, so it should be of no surprise. I wonder if ole Willie were still DC would he even have a chance of sniffing a big board of Mel’s.

Jackets2010

October 28th, 2010
9:31 am

If Tom Brady had not been a mediocre college QB and drafted in the 6th round by a good team like the Patriots, would he have turned out another failed and beat up (Stafford?) college QB?
Moreno needs more time to judge.
Look how Jim Mora Jr nearly wrecked Roddy White’s career.
I’m conducting my own experiment to see if I can get along over here for a day.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Jackets2010

October 28th, 2010
9:35 am

Maybe the players make the coach most of the time.
Wouldn’t u have loved to be the O coordinator the 3 years Herschel played?
Which TD running play should I call next?

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2010
9:36 am

Big for an OLB. That’s why the change benefited him so much. He’d have been a good DE. He’s a great OLB.

DawginLex

October 28th, 2010
9:37 am

I think houston and AJ both come back next year because the NFL salary thing is a big mess. Even the NFL talking heads don’t fully understand what is going on but they do know it is a mess.

Bring houston and AJ back along with Murray and Co and I like our future. Dent will be a big loss but Jarvis Jones can step in. for the first time since 2004, we will have a good solid returning QB, solid running backs, solid WR’s and Te’s and a DC who is actually teaching and taking advantage of the talent.

norman

October 28th, 2010
9:39 am

Bradley- Don’t you need to consider the fact that there is a possibility of a work stoppage (strike) next year in the NFL? That could affect college athletes? Do you think a decision of a stoppage be made before the NFL Draft?

Alphare

October 28th, 2010
9:40 am

I’ve never thought Moreno is very good anyway. He got some fancy footwork, but it comes to big game, he is mostly a no show.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley, Shannon Moore. Shannon Moore said: RT @MarkBradleyAJC: Good news/bad news: ESPN's Mel Kiper likes #UGA junior Justin Houston. http://bit.ly/9dc3Tr [...]

WDE

October 28th, 2010
9:47 am

He’ll be gone. What can he gain by staying? Moving from 17 to 10 in the draft isn’t worth the risk of injury or potential not to repeat his success from this year.

DawginLex

October 28th, 2010
9:48 am

WDE,

If he is not going to get paid, he will stay in college.

DawginLex

October 28th, 2010
9:49 am

you’re ok Jackets2010. Just don’t reference trailers and you are fine.

Mike Jay

October 28th, 2010
9:50 am

I sure wish….

Hell some kids stay for all 4 now because you only get the college expierence once in your lifetime. Plus I was mostly kidding, note the smiley. That being said if they will be getting less money for leaving early with a rookie pay scale I absoloutly think more of them will end up finishing out their college careers. Diploma + chance to go out on top + college expierence (it’s still more of a game at the college level and less of a business) + chancce to increase draft stock + less money will equal more kids staying. Might not be a ton more but I can’t see how it won’t be some. Especially for the 3rd-8th+ rounders.

KOOL

October 28th, 2010
9:50 am

Good point Chip… the WILL be a lockout next year in the NFL… kinda pointless to leave early next year, imho

WDE

October 28th, 2010
9:51 am

Does anyone honestly see a lockout coming? I know negotiations aren’t going anywhere now, but some big name person will broker a deal to get everyone on the field.

It’d be interesting to learn what the implications for contract players and draftees will be in case there is a lockout. That’ll mean having to watch John Clayton for more than 10 minutes without wanting to throw up.

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2010
9:52 am

There won’t be a work stoppage. The NFL is too smart.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bryan and Bryan, Georgia Bulldogs-UGA. Georgia Bulldogs-UGA said: http://bit.ly/WireUG Good news/bad news: Mel Kiper likes #UGA's Justin Houston – A #NCAA #Sports http://bit.ly/b9iW6B [...]

Dawg_Mike

October 28th, 2010
9:57 am

Here’s another question: will Cam Newton declare for the draft?

WDE

October 28th, 2010
10:03 am

People ignore that you are more likely to lose draft status after a season like this. For someone with his kind of success, he should cash in before any one of the millions of things can go wrong (injury, drop-off in play, other upcoming players overtaking him). Yeah, you only get the college experience once in a lifetime, but these athletes aren’t doing the same kinds of stuff in college that we equate to the college experience. More importantly, an NFL career is something that happens way less often than once a lifetime on average.

Chip

October 28th, 2010
10:07 am

I think that’s a great question about Cam Newton — he is a phenomenal college QB (better than Tebow to me) but so far his throwing skills are not proven… So he could probably benefit greatly from another season at Auburn and working on showcasing his passing skills (assuming he wants to be an NFL QB) — but I don’t think he would be a top tier NFL draft pick this season, only because he would be a risky pick (like Denver taking Tebow).

He will be a great NFL player but at what position? As of right now I cannot see a team picking him in first round as a QB — cause that running type QB (if he is not a really solid Passer) just doesn’t seem to translate that well into the NFL.

But if I were a GM, I would LOVE to have him on my team and on the field the year I drafted him somewhere!!!

Will

October 28th, 2010
10:07 am

Let’s stop looking into the present and focus on the UGA/UF game please. Every school loses players every year. Recruit better and have someone to take his place when he makes his dream come true.

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2010
10:07 am

Cam Newton: Intriguing player.

just a fan

October 28th, 2010
10:08 am

I would hope they are too smart for a work stoppage but you never can tell with some people they have the best thing going in all pro sports, I do think there is a good chance both AJ and Justin stay

Lowcountry Bulldawgs

October 28th, 2010
10:10 am

Agree, Newton will need one more year to prove himself as a passer before a team spends a high pick on him. Once he proves himself as a passer he looks like the 2.0 version of Culpepper.

WDE

October 28th, 2010
10:13 am

I think Cammy Cam will stick around simply because he has bounced around so much and hasn’t put together two consecutive years in the same place. These juniors we normally talk about usually get significant playing time their freshman year and start by sometime in their second year. Cam is just now getting his starting time (though he obviously knows exactly what to do with it)

there goes the graduation rate!

October 28th, 2010
10:14 am

oh well… back to the bottom

Jackets2010

October 28th, 2010
10:15 am

I can’t say anything bad about trailors because I dated women who lived there.
I ran 5 and 10K races around the state.
Funny thing was my Uga fan buddy couldn’t get a break and I got all the breaks in winning trophies.