For the last three seasons, the Oakland Raiders have been waiting for Lamarr Houston to emerge as a star defensive end. Well, their hopes have finally been realized.
Since the start of the 2013 campaign, Houston had done nothing but dominant. The fourth-year defensive end has taken his role as a defensive leader and run with it, becoming a disruptive force while helping the Raiders on their way to a relatively impressive 3-4 record through Week 8.
So far this season, Houston has amassed 30 total tackles, including 25 that constitute an offensive failure. Against the run, he has been unstoppable, living in opposing backfields and stopping nearly anything that comes his way. Houston has made a big impact as a pass rusher as well, where he’s racked up four sacks, nine hits and 25 hurries in seven games.
According to Pro Football Focus, Houston has earned a 13.4 overall rating on the year, fourth-best among all 4-3 defensive ends in the NFL. His only real flaw so far has been his five missed tackles, which are tied for second-most in the league.
Houston has been so good this season that he’s even graded out positively in pass coverage.
In turn, the Raiders are enjoying far more success than many – myself included – expected from them this season. Houston has made numerous impact plays so far, and many of them have directly affected the Raiders’ ability to stay competitive.
It might be a little early considering this is Houston’s first season of outstanding production and consistency, but the Texas product is edging on elite. If he can keep this pace throughout the 2013 campaign, there’s no reason to believe he won’t deserve to be considered one of the best 4-3 defensive ends in the NFL.
The Raiders needed a dynamic talent on defense to give them a spark this season, and Houston delivered.