Height: 6ft 3
Position: Defensive End
2013 stats: 69 tackles, 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
Lamar Houston is not a household name in the NFL and yet he probably should be. Houston has quietly been a very good player on a series of very bad Raider teams. Houston is a prototypical 4-3 left end, his big frame and immense strength make him a brilliant run defender and while not an outstanding pass rusher, Houston has enough speed and power that he is still adds a legitimate pass rushing threat.
Why should the Falcons sign him?
The Falcons need as many good players as they can get along the defensive line. While not a marquee free agent Houston is a very good player and would significantly help the Falcons at a significantly smaller price than a lot of the other big name free agents available. What should really make Houston appealing to the Falcons and Mike Nolan is his versatility. Houston can play all along the defensive line and would fit right into Nolan’s amoeba defensive fronts.
While not a blistering pass rusher Houston is one of the best run stuffing ends in the league. Last year Houston’s 40 run stops led all defensive ends, (only JJ Watt had more). When opponents ran at Houston they averaged 3.2 yards, when they ran away from him they averaged 4.2 yards. The lack of pass rush from Houston also seems to have been overblown. Yes his sack numbers have never been great but Houston still caused 63 quarterback pressures this year, good for 12th among 4-3 defensive ends.
A player the Falcons have been heavily linked to this off-season is Cincinnati’s Michael Johnson. Johnson, while a very good player is going to command a hefty contract due to his impressive numbers against both the run and the pass. Johnson, while a very good player is a potential trap signing for teams as he has been playing on one of the most talented defensive lines in the league. As a result Johnson has seen favorable matchups that he will likely not see for whatever team signs him. If Johnson signed for Atlanta it would be very surprising if his play was better than it has been in previous years with the Bengals. Houston on the other hand could potentially improve for playing on a more talented line and team.
The Falcons desperately need to add some quality players to the defensive line and if Houston hits the open market Thomas Dimitroff and his staff should strongly consider bringing him in.
(All stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus and nfl.com)