James Houston's skillset has been likened to Dallas Cowboys Rookie of the Year LB Micah Parsons for his ability to play LB and rush off the edge by his Head Coach Deion Sanders. Houston primarily played Edge last season for the Tigers and he racked up 16.5 sacks, finishing 2nd in FCS football. The Florida transfer played primarily inside LB at Florida and racked up 37 tackles and 3.5 TFL. There at Florida is where he showcased his ability to fill gaps and close very quickly.
One the first things you notice about James Houston is how fast he plays and how high a motor he has. At Edge, Houston was able to use his speed and bend to get around Tackles and finishes really well at the QB. He also uses his hands well and keeps lineman from engaging with him. In the second game of the year against Tennessee State Houston dominated. He recorded 10 tackles, 5 TFL, a FF, and 4.5 sacks. In this game he shows how well he sheds blocks and closes on the QB.
Houston finished the season with video game numbers. He had 70 total tackles (52 solo), 24.5 TFL, 16.5 sacks, 7 FF, 1 INT, and a defensive TD.
In the offseason Houston has upped his draft stock by performing well at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, where he was asked to play inside linebacker, and he was very comfortable in coverage, filled gaps, and made a couple good tackles and a big hit.
Yesterday at his Pro Day, James Houston showed his athleticism will hold up against the other top guys in this draft class. He ran a 4.6 40 yard dash which would have been top 15 among LBs and top 7 among Edges at The Combine. He had a 39" vertical jump which would have been top 6 among LBs and top 3 among Edges at The Combine. He had a 10'7" broad jump which would've been top 8 among LBs and top 4 among Edges at The Combine. And he Benched 22 reps of 225 lbs which would have been top 4 at The Combine among both LBs and Edges. He also came in at 244 lbs which is a much more adequate playing weight compared to 225 lbs. He also had a whopping 83" wingspan, in comparison 6'4 Oregon Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux has a 79" wingspan.
Houston is a guy that should be drafted and if he is not he will be a huge steal for a team as undrafted free agent. He has the potential to be a guy that immediately makes an impact on special teams and with some developing can become a productive pass rusher. I think Houston fits best in a 3-4 system that will allow him to rush the passer and also use his athleticism in coverage.