For the first time in three drafts, Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli selected multiple players with character concerns. One of those, Georgia LB Justin Houston, got the traditional call from Pioli and head coach Todd Haley when they decided to select him and there was no ignoring the elephant in the room and that’s fine by one of the newest Chiefs.
“I trust you will come in,” Houston remembered his new coach telling him, “and do the right thing.”
Houston had spent years doing the right thing. He wasn’t a high-school troublemaker, but then he went to college and was suspended two games in 2009 for a team rules violation — nearly two years before he failed a drug test in February at the NFL’s scouting combine. Houston led the Southeastern Conference last season with 10 sacks and was considered a potential first-round talent, but his more recent bout with poor judgment bruised his draft stock.
“It opened my eyes,” Houston said. “I’m glad it happened; I’m glad I got the opportunity to play football.
“Right now, I’m feeling the pain of regret.”
“We think that we have a chance to make this work,” Pioli said. “We know what we signed up for.”
It’s easy right now for Houston and any other player that has dealt with off-the-field issues in college to say the right things as his professional career is ready to begin. We won’t know just how far in the past these mistakes are until we get these kids back on the field and they get the job done over a long period of time.
Of the entire Chiefs draft class, even though he wasn’t chosen until the third round, Houston has a chance to come in and have the biggest impact on the team. First round pick WR Jonathan Houston will get his shot to be involved in the game plan, but there is no linebacker currently on the Kansas City roster that has better pass rush ability other than Tamba Hali.
Having such a force playing opposite him every down, Houston will never get the full attention of an offense, similar to how Hali got the job done early in his career playing with Jared Allen.
If he keeps his head on straight, there is no doubt in my mind the former Bulldog will get the job done sooner rather than later.