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Will UDFA John Houston be a primary backup at linebacker in 2020?

Breaking down every player one-by-one alphabetically on the Steelers current 90-man roster

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 23 UCLA at USC Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We are onto part 44 of our 90-part series — assuming the roster does not change before we are complete — which will break down each player of the Steelers current 90-man roster in alphabetical order. This series will encompass many aspects of each players game and their current role with the team. At the end, I’ll give some projected stats as well as their chances to make the 53-man roster.

Let’s take a look at a 2020 UDFA

John Houston

Position: ILB
Height: 6’ 3”
Weight: 220 lbs
College: Southern California
Draft: UDFA in 2020

2019 stats (NCAA)

104 Total Tackles
15 Sacks
2.5 TFLs
3 Passes Defended
1 Fumble Recovery

Contract remaining

Expires in 2022
$612,500 salary cap number (0.31% of total cap)
$2,500 Dead money
$610,000 Savings if cut

Likelihood of making the roster

High. The top of the Steelers inside linebacker depth chart goes as follows
Devin Bush
Vince Williams
Ulysees Gilbert III
Robert Spillane

The roster then features 3 UDFA’s at the spot: Leo Lewis, James Lockhart, and Houston. In my opinion John Houston is the favorite to not only win the job against his fellow UDFA’s but to supplant Spillane off the roster as the Steelers fourth inside linebacker.

2020 projection

Houston will only ever play special teams in 2020. If the Steelers are hit by the injury bug they would have to turn to the free agent pool to sure up the position. No way they would ever start a UDFA in a season where rookie camp and OTAs where cancelled. Houston could be an effective special teams ace, and could carve out a niche for himself to have a decent NFL career.

Projected stats:

10 Games played
8 Tackles (Special teams)


John Houston is a name I would suggest Steelers fans follow during this seasons training camp. He has the potential to just crack this roster and to contribute immediately on specials. He’s coming into a very good situation for himself and has a clear path to making this team.

Previously Highlighted

Ola Adeniyi
Marcus Allen
Tyson Alualu
Trajan Bandy
Zach Banner
J.T. Barrett
John Battle
Jordan Berry
Saeed Blacknall
Breon Borders
Chris Boswell
Antoine Brooks Jr.
Isaiah Buggs
Devin Bush
Deon Cain
Kam Canaday
Chase Claypool
Josiah Coatney
James Conner
Anthony Coyle
Jordan Dangerfield
Amara Darboh
Carlos Davis
David DeCastro
Christian DiLauro
Kevin Dotson
Bud Dupree
Eric Ebron
Terrell Edmunds
Trey Edmunds
Matt Feiler
Minkah Fitzpatrick
Zach Gentry
Ulysees Gilbert III
Derwin Gray
Joe Haden
J.C. Hassenauer
Quadree Henderson
Dewayne Hendrix
Cam Heyward
Alex Highsmith
Mike Hilton
Devlin Hodges