Citing NFL sources, FoxSports is reporting that Georgia linebacker Justin Houston tested positive for marijuana at the combine in February. Given that the draft is two days away, such news could have broken at no worse time — for Houston, if not for the teams that might have been interested in him.
Such news could also have an impact on the local NFL team’s first choice. It’s widely believed the Falcons are in need of a defensive end, and there’s thought that Houston could be as effective as a down lineman in a 4-3 as at outside linebacker in a 3-4. (Houston played in both spots under both alignments at Georgia.) But the Falcons under Dimitroff have made it a practice to minimize draft risks.
Drafting Justin Houston just got riskier. I can’t see the Falcons picking him now, at least not in Round 1, and I’d be surprised if he’s taken by any team before Round 2. Which would be a shame. He’s a big-time talent with a huge upside. (Sorry to lapse into draftspeak.) All NFL teams cast a critical eye on the draft — this is, after all, their business — and at the moment every franchise has to look at Houston and wonder: “How many guys put themselves in position to flunk their audition?”
This doesn’t mean Houston won’t get drafted somewhere by somebody. This doesn’t mean he can’t become a productive professional for the next 10 days. But it does mean he’s not going to make the money as a rookie he could have.
By Mark Bradley