Coming off a career year in 2012, Houston is on the cusp of becoming a premier all-around defensive end for the Raiders. Last season, the Texas product amassed 67 total tackles, 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble. Houston finished the year with a 16.5 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, although the majority of his positive points came against the run.
Surprisingly, Houston graded out negatively as a pass-rusher, but was still plenty productive when pinning his ears back.
Throughout the 2012 campaign, he managed 35 hurries and 14 quarterback hits, significantly larger numbers than any other Raiders defensive lineman. His PRP (Pass Rush Productivity) rating finished him in the Top 15 of all 4-3 defensive ends in the NFL who played at least 50 percent of their team’s defensive snaps. Not too shabby for a 6’3’’, 305-pounder who could make the move to defensive tackle this season to fill the 3-technique spot.
In only three seasons with the Raiders, Houston has come a long way and appears primed to take another step in 2013. The next part of the process is getting better during Raiders training camp, which kicks off on July 25.
What helps Houston is that he’ll be going through Oakland training camp alongside Andre Carter, a 12-year NFL veteran. Although Carter has never been an elite defensive end, his experience in the league should allow him to continue mentoring the budding Houston as the Raiders prepare for the 2013 season.
At this point in his career, Houston is still developing as an NFL defensive end. If he can continue to trend in an upward direction, though, he could soon elevate himself to “elite” status for the Raiders.