Since this year’s NFL Draft, Detroit Lions fans have been anxious. They’ve been waiting to get their first look at Aidan Hutchinson in pads. After all, the Lions did select him with the 2nd overall pick. However, on Monday morning, Lions head coach Dan Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn both voiced excitement to see a pair of other rookies in full pads.
One was Malcolm Rodriguez. And the other? James Houston.
“I want to see how he operates,” said Glenn regarding Houston.
The Lions selected Houston in the sixth round with the 237th overall pick. Houston, 23, is one of four players drafted this year that attended a historically Black college and university (HBCU). He spent one year at Jackson State (JSU), playing under Pro Football Hall of Famer, Deion Sanders. Along with that, Houston is the first player drafted during Sanders’ tenure as head coach at JSU.
During his lone season at JSU, Houston tallied 70 tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss, seven forced fumbles, and one interception. Those efforts earned him First-Team All-SWAC honors.
After his first NFL practice in full pads, Houston was in high spirits.
“I’m feeling great. Just getting back into the swing of things. You know, just feeling like football again,” Houston told Woodward Sports. “[I’m] just coming out here, and soaking up all of this knowledge, [and] just watching all of the vets to figure out where I fit in.”
Houston also addressed adjusting to an NFL practice compared to a college one.
“The tempo is really just so much faster,” said Houston. “Everything moves at a faster pace. They’re getting players in and out. The plays are coming in and out. You just got to be really locked in and focused on your assignment.”
James Houston has a tall task ahead of him; an uphill battle, if you will.
With stiff competition in front of him, he’s going to be fighting for playing time. Despite that, he’s prepared for the challenge. And loves the defensive scheme already under Glenn. He wasn’t shy about how it complements his skillset.
“I feel like I can fit in a multitude of spots in this defense,” said Houston. “Rushing the passer, dropping back, and even playing off the ball. Really, [it’s] whatever they need, I’m here, I’m ready, and I’m available to do it.”
Tuesday will be the second day in full pads for the Lions. While James Houston is going through the expected rookie adjustment period, he stated with a grin that he’s in love with the intensity and is “ready to hit something.”
Because of that, it’s easy to surmise why Dan Campbell and Aaron Glenn singled him out as one of two players they were ready to see in action. He’s their type of guy.
Follow Kory Woods on Twitter at KoryEWoods.