This round features a couple of freaks. Let's dive in.
Fantasy Draft 9th Pick (Position & Player): Defensive Tackle | Lamarr Houston
With my 9th pick in the draft I select Lamarr Houston. This actually turned out to be one of my most challenging picks. There were a few guys who were productive at defensive tackle at Texas that were tough to overlook (Roy Miller, Frank Okam). But, for what I need today in this conference, there's no way I could go with anyone else but Lamarr.
Lamarr showed up and impressed us from the beginning. He played here and there as a freshman in 2006 but completely gained our trust when he started 11 games at defensive end as a sophomore. I honestly had no clue he'd continue to grow (in both size and development) and turn into the player he became later on.
I remember being concerned that the move to defensive tackle as a junior would be too much for Lamarr. He played with a foot injury for most of the year and just couldn't seem to get going. I figured with the lack of depth we had at the position going into 2009, he'd be forced to continue playing DT but I had no clue he'd put it all together the way he did.
As a senior, Lamarr anchored a defense that was first in rushing defense and third in total defense nationally. He was just too much of a load for interior offensive linemen that year. His ball getoff (BGO) and hands upon initial contact were scary. He played with incredible leverage yet almost made playing inside on the defensive line look like pass rushing from the end position.
He finished with lofty stats we hadn't seen from a defensive tackle at Texas in quite some time (68 tackles, 8 sacks, 22 TFLs, and 28 pressures). Although he played what I'd argue was the best game of his career (10 tackles, sack, 2 TFLs) his senior year against an Alabama team that resembles nothing we'd see in the Big XII today, there's no doubt he'd bring the full complement of skills needed to produce in this conference.
Reality Draft 9th Pick (Position & Player): Middle Linebacker | Steve Edmond
I am probably more excited to see Steve Edmond play than any other player on this year's defense. I might value him more than most because I just don't see a ceiling for him yet. Honestly, I believe where I'm picking him in this draft doesn't do him justice based on the presence and influence I believe he'll have this year. The guy can flat out be special at this position. A lot of what he brings to the table is intangible but I'll do my best to prove to you this isn't reefer madness.
If you stood next to this kid you'd quickly see he's everything we haven't had a linebacker in some time. As a pure LB, he's the closest thing we've seen to Derrick Johnson in stature since he left campus. While the hybrid Sergio Kindle, AKA Bane, was strong and lean, he was still about 20 lbs lighter than Edmond is at this point in his career. With his first full offseason under Bennie Wylie, I believe the pain he'll impose on opposing players might actually break a few laws (which might be a plus according to Allen Pinkett).
Most people Steve Edmonds' size end up at defensive end these days. As a player from Texas, competing against several spread offenses, most schools have lighter, quicker linebackers covering the field. This defense needs a guy who will anchor getting them to passing downs. While I don't want to label him as a one-trick pony, his size, instincts, and physical play in the running game will be what I value most this year.
The scary thing is we're on the front end of what's to come with Steve Edmond at linebacker. There's not another linebacker on the roster built like him (Santos might be the closest) who can be a force in the running game without having his hand in the dirt. Manny Diaz was right, I am looking forward to him eating the quarterback's head or whatever.
Tenth Draft pick(s) coming soon...