A once-a-day look at a draft prospect that either has been targeted for the Patriots in a mock draft, has had a private workout for New England or has made an official visit to Gillette Stadium. In the end, mocks are good for discussion and workouts and interviews could be a smokescreen or a sign of real interest, but these are players who make sense as being on the Pats’ radar for the upcoming draft.
Name: OLB Justin Houston, Georgia
Height, weight: 6-3, 270 pounds
Hometown: Statesboro, Ga. (Statesboro HS)
Junior season stats: 13 games (13 starts); 67 tackles (38 solo), 18.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, interception, 2 fumble recoveries, forced fumble
Career stats: 36 games (24 starts); 125 tackles (70 solo), 38 TFL, 20 sacks, INT, 2 FR, 2 FF
Honors: Football Writers Association of America, Pro Football Weekly All-America; Bronco Nagurski Award finalist, Butkus Award finalist; first-team All-SEC; Georgia defensive MVP
Combine: 40 dash – 4.68s; bench press – 30 reps; vertical – 36.5 in.; broad jump – 10-5; 3-cone – 6.95s
Why he’s a fit for the Pats: Georgia switched to a 3-4 defense last year and Houston’s ability to easily transition from 4-3 end to standup linebacker for the Bulldogs not only helped the team, it helped his draft stock. Houston is explosive and strong, and also has good lateral agility, which is something Bill Belichick frequently mentions as a plus for linebackers. One concern, however: his passion has been questioned by pundits.