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Georgia OLB Justin Houston and the Seahawks' Leo Position

I must break you.
I must break you.

In the next few weeks the Seahawks will be hosting some players in their quest to build their draft board rankings. Most likely, very few if any of these guys that I've been profiling will be taken in the draft but I think looking at them adds value because it gives you an idea of the types of players John Schneider and Pete Carroll are looking for. They are doing their due-diligence but I don't think they'd waste these players' time and chip away at the limit of their official visits if they didn't see something in them that they like.

There was a lot of debate in the offeason last year about who Pete Carroll's Leo would be, and this offseason the debate will probably center on depth at that position. (It's interesting to note in that article that in a landslide, us Hawks' fans voted for Nick Reed to be our starting Leo end in 2010. Obviously, this didn't quite happen. Instead, Chris Clemons came in and had a very good year statistically, racking up 11 sacks. Makes me wonder who this year's Clemons will be.)

With Chris Clemons still under contract, he'll be the incumbant and most likely starter there. Behind him though, you have an unsigned Raheem Brock, and an undersized and unproven Dexter Davis. Depth will most likely need to be added.

It's been reported that the Hawks will be working out Georgia OLB Justin Houston, and he could potentially come and and contribute at the Leo end right away. The guy is a physical freak - and recorded 10 sacks in 2010 at Georgia, second only in the SEC to Auburn's Nick Fairly.

He's projected as an OLB in a 3-4 defense but in the Hawks version of the 4-3 he could play at the Leo position rushing the QB - his specialty in college.

He's 6'3, 267, and at his recent Pro Day, he ran a 4.57 40 yard dash. He's projected as a potential first round pick but could fall into the early second. It's unclear if the Hawks would have interest in him at #25 with Clemons still under contract, but they are definitely doing their due diligence at all spots. 

A little more about Houston

Houston is a bit undersized as a traditional 4-3 defensive end but fits the mold of a 3-4 outside linebacker. Gets off the ball quickly, has enough athleticism to get the corner, and can also use the bull rush but needs to do a better job after contact and widen his array moves. Flashes the ability to keep blockers off his body, set the edge, get off blocks and make plays and make plays in pursuit but needs to show more intensity shedding and playing in a phone booth. Has the athleticism to drop into coverage but may struggle in man. Early Day 2 prospect.

Strengths: Houston has good height, bulk and athleticism for a 3-4 outside linebacker. Active pass rusher. Displays good get off and can get the edge but also will utilize the bull rush. When technique is sound, will maintain outside contain against the run. Can pursue from the backside. Has experience dropping into zone coverage.

Weaknesses: Could be more consistent with his hands while pass rushing and against the run when disengaging. Needs to watch his pad level at times and can get washed out. Awareness is still developing when finding the football. Inconsistent effort against the run. Potential liability in man coverage.

Check out his Combine workout here.

Houston is another player that you could keep your eye on for day one of the draft. I'm not sold that Carroll and Schneider want to look for depth with their first pick, but I do get the feeling they will choose a player based on best value, not necessarily a positional need. What do you think of Houston?