Lions add another pass rusher in sixth round with James Houston

The Lions drafted yet another pass rusher by selecting James Houston out of Jackson State in the sixth round (217th overall) on Saturday.

Earlier in the draft they had added defensive ends Aidan Hutchinson (first round) and Josh Paschal (second round). After drafting those two, Lions GM Brad Holmes said you can never have too many pass rushers.

Houston’s resume isn’t quite as sparkling which explains why he was still available in the sixth round although he did have 16.5 sacks last season.

“I actually didn’t have any contact with the Lions (prior to the draft), but I”m happy they contacted me today,’’ Houston said in a conference call on Saturday.

His nickname is “The Problem” and he loves it. He said some of the Jackson State announcers came up with it.

“I was wreaking havoc. I had 10 to 11 sacks on the season and they came up with The Problem like Houston we have a problem,’’ Houston said.

He didn’t play in his senior year of high school due to injury, but was still signed by Florida. He was suspended for his first season due to alleged involvement in a credit card fraud scheme with other teammates.

“Everything that happened last year and everything that happened in college all of that is out the window. I’m coming in to work hard and try to make this organization better,’’ Houston said.

Houston, who is 6-foot-1 and 244 pounds, returned to contribute as a reserve for the Gators in 2018 (28 tackles, two for loss, one blocked kick in 13 games), 2019 (38 tackles, six for loss with 3.5 sacks) and 2020 (37 tackles, 3.5 for loss with one sack) before transferring to Jackson State.

It was a good move that earned him second-team Associated Press FCS All-American and first-team All-SWAC honors by leading the FCS with seven forced fumbles, tying for second with 24.5 tackles for loss and with 16.5 sacks. Houston had 70 total tackles and returned his lone interception for a score during 13 starts. 

His NFL.com profile reads: “His Florida tape gives insight into his potential as an aggressive, downhill linebacker with modest instincts and results from the middle. He’s shorter and smaller than teams like along the edge but plays with an instinctive rush approach that effectively utilizes his explosive athleticism and bend to overwhelm FCS tackles.’’