“Obviously … I Should’ve Went Higher” | Detroit Lions HBCU Sack Master James Houston Out To Make NFL Teams Pay


Every year after the NFL draft there are many players who believe they should’ve been drafted much earlier than they were. The ones who are justified in feeling snubbed carry a huge chip on their shoulder that propels them to greatness.  

That could turn out no differently this year with former Jackson State edge rusher James “The Problem” Houston, who was drafted in the sixth round by the Detroit Lions. The outstanding pass rusher, who terrorized SWAC offenses for Deion Sanders’ SWAC champion JSU Tigers, believes he had first-round ability and tape.


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In a recent interview with AllLions, the pass-rushing menace Houston talked about his hopes for the future. 

“It was just an amazing opportunity. I am so glad that Detroit picked me. Obviously, I felt like I should have went higher. But everybody feels like that.
“It was amazing. I was just so grateful that they picked me. A team actually wanted me to come here. I am just going to give it my all. I am going to show them that I’m no sixth-round pick. I’m a first-round pick.”



Houston’s Numbers Were Off The Charts At Jackson State

While the Tigers were expected to have a good defense in 2021, after adding some quality pieces via the transfer portal, the level of Houston’s impact was definitely unexpected as he led the SWAC’s No. 1 scoring defense. Houston was a beast off the edge, wrecking opponents’ offensive game plans weekly. 

For the season, he tallied a whopping 16.5 sacks, 70 tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss, 10 quarterback hits, seven forced fumbles (fourth in FCS), two fumble recoveries, and two returned touchdowns. Only FAMUs Isaiah Land, the SWAC Defensive Player of the Year, had more sacks (19).

For his efforts, Houston rose onto draft boards, a place he wasn’t prior to the 2021 season.

Position Change Did Wonders For Houston

When Houston arrived at Jackson State after three seasons at Power Five Florida, he was adamant that he was a linebacker. He even told the coaching staff that they were stunting his growth by changing him to a specialized edge rusher.

“I know the talent I have. And y’all have put a cap on my talent, here. I know exactly what I can do,” Houston told JSU coaches when he stepped on campus. 

Never one to shy away from telling the truth, Sanders had a pretty straightforward response to his new player.

“James, let me tell you something. If you were able to do that, you would have done that, and you would have never came here. If you was the dude that you think you are at linebacker, you would have never been here.”

Deion presented the harsh realities of Houston’s situation, changed the talented but underachieving player’s mind state, and now “The Problem” could be one of the steals of the 2020 NFL draft. 


Lions Got A Steal: Houston Has Unique Abilities

Sanders and the coaching staff wanted to uncover the untapped potential in Houston that he couldn’t personally recognize because he was so gung-ho on doing what he had set in his mind to do.

“Oftentimes these young men see what they want instead of what we want,” Sanders said. 

Now after following the leadership of his coaching staff, Houston is a pro and has a great shot at being a contributor on a Lions team in full rebuild mode.