My feeling that the Falcons will make Justin Houston their 2011 first round pick have not wavered since my last sponsored post on the topic. I'll leave you to decide if that's because I'm stalwart or foolish.
Given the team's need and stated desire for a pass rusher, Houston's talent, pedigree and versatility and a heaping dose of good ol' fashioned guesswork, I'm fairly sold on Houston. Unlike last year, there is no consensus choice, but I'm willing to roll the dice on Houston.
Atlanta should be willing to, too. For the questions about his motor and fit at defensive end, Houston has shown a knack for rushing the passer to go along with enviable athleticism. He's also played both linebacker and defensive end in college, played well at a major program and is well-regarded for his football intelligence, based on everything I've read.
All of those attributes combined make him an ideal fit for the Falcons. He can play rotational end for a season behind John Abraham and Kroy Biermann to pick up the defense and then, in an ideal world, take over for Abraham if he departs in free agency. If he proves to be amazing right off the bat, I'm sure the Falcons will find him enough snaps.
Of course, the fact that he tested positive for marijuana use is a black mark on his off-the-field intellect, to say the least. I'm not someone who particularly cares if players smoke weed, but to get caught with it in his system at the NFL Combine tells me Houston's not thinking ahead particularly well. I don't think it's enough to knock him down draft boards, nor should the Falcons pass on him at 27 because of it. He's a good player and won't be there at 54.
So that's my conviction. Do you agree?