By TomE. Curran
Heading into the NFL draft, Tom E. Curran plans a series of looks at potential Patriots draftees. Today's player: Justin Houston.
Justin Houston, 6-3, 270OLB, Georgia
The Skinny: An intriguing player with an explosive first step, Houston looks straight out of 3-4 OLB central casting with long arms, excellent athletic ability and a ton of power. The consensus is he's best coming out of a three-point stance as opposed to being a stand-up edge rusher. Had 10 sacks last season for the Bulldogs in the always-competitive SEC.
Gotta Have Him: The Patriots need pass rush. Justin Houston provides pass rush. Let's be honest, Tully Banta-Cain's 2010 is probably more indicative of what he is all about than his 10-sack 2009 was. And Rob Ninkovich is not going to morph into Mike Vrabel. A bookend tandem of outside linebackers comprised of Jermaine Cunningham and Justin Houston could be a devastating pair.
Don't Need Him: He may not be versatile enough. According to Wes Bunting at the National Football Post, Houston just doesn't cut it when he's asked to stand up and rush the passer. "He's stiff and will struggle in space," predicted Bunting. "He's got that great first step but he's a bit of a one-trick pony. He's going to need a changeup move."
Forecast: The Patriots need to determine whether they want a 3-4 defensive end who is versatile enough to drop in coverage or whether they want a 3-4 linebacker who can play the run and set the edge on two downs and bring pressure on third. They drafted a player in the second round last year who fits that mold - Jermaine Cunningham. Bunting says Cunningham was a better overall prospect than Houston but not necessarily a better pass rusher. "(Houston) can take that first step off the edge and can make quarterbacks step into the pocket into the teeth of the defense. But as a 270-pound guy, I'm not sure he can consistently set the edge."
Patriots Draftability: 7
Tom E. Curran canbe reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
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When the topic of Deflategate was broached on HBO's Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons, which debuted this week, Ben Affleck became all kinds of fired up.
"What they did was suspend Tom Brady for four days for not giving them his [expletive] cellphone," Affleck said. "I would never give an organization as leak-prone as the NFL my [expletive] cellphone . . . so you can just look through my emails and listen to my voicemails?"
Affleck grew up in Cambridge, Mass. and is a passionate Patriots fan. He made no attempts to hide his fandom, and his appreciation for Brady, as he and Simmons (also a Patriots fan) discussed the football-deflation controversy that has now lasted well over a year.
Affleck, who said he would want to cast himself as Brady if ever a Deflategate movie was made, harped on the fact that the league wanted Brady to turn over his phone.
"Maybe Tom Brady is so [expletive] classy and such a [expletive] gentleman," Affleck said, "that he doesn’t want people to know that he may have reflected on his real opinion on some of his co-workers."
Brady is waiting for the Second Circuit to make a decision as to whether or not it will rehear his case against the NFL. Earlier this offseason, the Second Circuit reinstated Brady's four-game suspension issued by the league when a three-judge panel ruled in favor of the NFL, 2-1.
Pro Football Talk wrote on Thursday that a decision from the Second Circuit could come at any time. If the rehearding request is denied, Brady could then take the case to the Supreme Court. Should the Second Circuit grant Brady a rehearing, his suspension would be delaed until the court reached a decision. In that case, Brady could potentially play the entire 2016 season before a decision came to pass.