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Know Your Draft Pick: Justin Houston

Justin Houston is an interesting player for the Buccaneers. If there's an early run on defensive ends he could be the only viable first-round pass-rusher left on the board by the time the Bucs pick. Houston's position doesn't seem too well defined, as a lot of scouting agencies think he'll be an OLB but his 6'3", 270lbs suggest he'd do fine as a DE as well. Raheem Morris loves versatile players and he loves zone blitzes, so if Houston can drop back a little and work in space that would only be a plus for the Bucs. More importantly, Houston has a natural ability to get after the quarterback and that's what the Bucs crave.

As most college defensive ends, Houston doesn't use his hands well and relies on his athleticism to get the job done. Luckily for him he's very good at getting the job done: in his last 2 years in college Houston had 26 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks. He's at his best in passing situations, where he can let loose and try to get around the tackle. His tremendous first step and anticipation allow him to do so consistently, and he can bend the corner easily. Unfortunately that's the only thing he can do as a pass rusher right now, and he'll need to develop some extra moves if he's to succeed at the NFL level. Bucs fans know what happens when a standout college end has only one move in his repertoire and it isn't pretty. Another problem for Houston is that he's not a good player against the run, struggles to get off blocks and doesn't seem to go all out in those situations. If that carries over onto the field once he starts collecting paychecks, it's a problem.

Of course, not everyone agrees with this view of Houston. The National Football Post seems to think that Houston is a willing run defender, who may not be a good run defender but is not lacking in effort. Mocking the Draft on the other hand seems to think he's likely to be a bust because he's a bit of a tweener and his position isn't clear. But they mention nothing about any hustle concerns. With The First Pick mostly questions his instincts and his effort on run plays, but not his qualities as a player. In fact, they think he's 'multifaceted' and has a capable bull rush as well as that edge rush.

Overall, Justin Houston seems like a risky prospect with plenty of upside. No one questions his ability to bend the corner, and that's very valuable. But he'll have to develop more moves to succeed at the next level, and he'll have to learn to play the run if he wants to be on the field for more than just pass-rush situations as well.