25 Days to the Draft: Texas DE/DT, Lamarr Houston

With the Draft fast approaching, it's time to start looking at some potential players for the Patriots. I'm going to put profiles of 2 players a day- one offense, one defensive- and gain a better understanding of the players in the draft.

As stated before, the Patriots need help shoring up their D-Line. In a draft where good sized 3-4 DEs are in short supply, top tier quality players are a must to look at. Texas DE/DT Lamarr Houston provides the size and skill to play 3-4 DE at the pro level. Projected to be a 2nd or 3rd round pick, Houston is one of a few players who can play 3-4 DE and are over 300 pounds (a must in the Patriots system). While we invested three picks in shoring up our D-Line in last season's draft with Ron Brace, Myron Pryor and Darryl Richards, the fact that none of them stepped up and claimed the starting position at DE means that it's still open season- anyone can take the position. Is Houston that player?

His measurements and some quotes after the jump.

WalterFootball.com Scouting

Height: 6-3. Weight: 305.
Combine 40 Time: 4.85.
Benchx225: 30.

CBSSports.com Scouting

03/12/2010 - TOP RATED NFL DRAFT SCOUT DEFENSIVE TACKLES: Lamarr Houston: Texas, 6-3, 302, 3: Houston brings with him an interesting athletic history going back to his days at Doherty High School in Colorado Springs, where he was a star running back (3,325 yards, 49 touchdowns) and a Parade All-America linebacker. He was also a three-year star in basketball as a power forward, ran the hurdles and threw the discus. Little wonder Texas took a while to figure out what to do with him. Originally a fullback prospect, he played in 50 career games, starting 20 at defensive tackle and 12 at defensive end. He totaled 136 tackles, 40 for a loss, 14 sacks and 65 pressures. - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange, NFLDraftScout.com/CBS Sports/USA TODAY

03/01/2010 - Defensive linemen aren't typically known for their flamboyance, but Texas' Lamarr Houston appears to be the exception. While every other lineman from Group 7 wore the standard black shorts and some variation of black shoes when running their 40-yard dash Monday at the NFL Scouting Combine, Houston decided to channel his inner Terrell Owens. The 305-pound defensive tackle sported long white tights and wore yellow shoes so bright that they were practically blinding. If Houston wanted to make a statement of how well-conditioned he was, consider it a success. NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks observed that Houston looked outstanding in his flashy outfit and that there was little, if any, fat evident on his large frame. Houston unofficially ran the 40 in 4.85 seconds, an exceptional number for a defensive tackle, and he also posted an unofficial 9-foot, 6-inch broad jump, a great distance for his position. - Jason Feller, NFL.com

01/11/2010 - 2009 BOWL GAME RISER: Lamarr Houston, DT, Texas: Teammate Sergio Kindle will be lauded for his 2.5 sacks, but Houston was the more impressive player on the Longhorn defense in their title game loss. Unlike Kindle, who was handled by Alabama TE Colin Peek (another rising prospect) on the edge, and star FS Earl Thomas, who missed multiple tackles, Houston fought through blocks to lead the team with ten tackles, two for loss and a sack. His quickness and effort as an interior pass rusher has made fans of scouts all over the league this year. And unlike 'Bama's "Fridge" carbon copy Terrence Cody, Houston can play on every down (even moving to the nose on third downs), get low in goal-line situations and be more effective as a short-yardage fullback. - Chad Reuter, The Sports Xchange, NFLDraftScout.com

NFL.com Scouting

Houston is a short, thick defender that has natural power at the point of attack. He can anchor the middle of the defense when playing with good pad level but can be inconsistent in this area. He has strong hands but again doesn’t always use them effectively to shed blockers. Houston feels pad pressure well and can restrict running lanes effectively. He shows good power to push the pocket as a bull rusher but needs to expand his moves and counters to contribute more as a pass rusher. He needs to be more disciplined and anticipate the snap count as he will jump offsides too often. Houston has the size and athleticism to be an effective interior defender at the next level and will likely fit best in a 4-3 scheme

Strengths

Houston has enough bulk and size to play inside in a 4-3 scheme. Is a smart player who can feel pressure. Tough performer. Is an instinctive guy who can find the football. Possesses good power. Has been productive in college.
Weaknesses
Houston exhibits an inconsistent motor and doesn’t always finish plays. Gets called for too many flags when incorrectly guessing the snap count. Gets in trouble when he plays with inconsistent pad level. Must improve his pass rush package beyond the bull rush.

MockingtheDraft.com Scouting

Pass Rush: As a former defensive end, Houston has a nice variety of pass rush moves. He uses a swim and a rip to some degree of success. Does a nice job of dipping his shoulder to work around the edge. Doesn't have the longest arms and that comes into play when he's blitzing. Is much better we he can use his quickness penetrating than bull rushing.


Run defend: Anchors fairly well but has some problems with double teams. Uses his quickness to collapse the pocket and redirect the running back. Teams schemed against him in the run game (see the national title game). Is very good in pursuit.

Versatility: Houston is one of the more versatile defensive tackles in this year's draft. He's played end and tackle for Texas and even lined up at fullback. His athleticism and strength allow him to excel both inside and outside and he could do the same in the NFL.

Final word: Houston is the kind of player who makes this year's draft so impressive. Any other year, he'd be considered a first-round prospect. But with so many quality defensive linemen, he might not hear his name called until the beginning of the second round.

Verdict: If we can't get Jared Odrick, then Houston would be the next best thing. Sorry to all the Corey Wootton fans, but Houston has a much more ideal size for what the Patriots would be using him for. Houston is versatile, capable and full of potential. A player who is in peak physical condition and can play every downs means he holds a LOT of value. He's a great rusher and while he may need help with double teams, he has the ability to succeed at a pro level. So if we can't get Odrick, I hope we look to Houston to fill our DE needs.

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