We continue to look at each of the Kansas City Chiefs draft picks and where they might fit on the 2011 roster. Today, we look to Georgia DE/LB Justin Houston. He ranks among the best values in the draft if mock drafts mean anything (hint: they don't). He was considered by many a first round pick and the Chiefs picked him up at No. 70 in the third round.
Physically, I like what he can do on the field but there's always a learning curve with outside linebackers in the 3-4. The good thing is that Georgia ran a 3-4 last year so he has more familiarity than a lot of players making that conversion. He'll need to get adjusted to Romeo Crennel's 3-4 defense with little time because the lockout could zap most of the offseason.
If all works out, I think he replaces LB Mike Vrabel at the outside linebacker spot opposite of LB Tamba Hali. We're not sure if Vrabel will retire or not but, in the event he does, the Chiefs have LB Andy Studebaker to hold the spot down until Houston is ready (unless of course Studebaker's play gets him on the field more).
One reason to vote for Vrabel to stay in town this year is that he can bring Houston up on how to do things. Folks have talked about some character concerns surrounding Houston so, in my mind, Vrabel would be a good person to have next to him as he breaks into the league.
I love that he can get to the passer and that's what will get him on the field. To be on the field as much as Vrabel, though, I think he needs to work on his coverage skills a little bit.
With Vrabel, I see Houston and Studebaker battling for his backup, or some sort of situational player as he develops in the NFL. Without Vrabel, I see Houston challenging Studebaker for a lot of playing time by the end of the year.