I'm sure my having Lamarr Houston higher than Jared Allen will be a surprise to some, but it was Houston that the Bears targeted at the onset of free agency. Houston has the potential to do much more than Allen can, and if I were to lay odds on the workhorse of the Bears defensive front, it would be on Houston. However, I do hope he comes down from his 1,049 defensive snaps of 2012.
The Chicago Bears will start him as their left defensive end in their 4-3 base defense, but he'll probably be all over the field. He has experience at right DE, he can kick inside to defensive tackle and he has lined up like a 3-4 outside linebacker. Basically Houston can line up anywhere from the 3-Tech DT spot, out to a 9-Tech DE spot, plus as a stand up OLB.
He's shown that he's just as comfortable with his hand in the dirt as he is operating out of a two point stance. Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker should be able to utilize Lamarr Houston in a variety of ways.
His versatility will allow the Bears to show some 30 fronts this year. While they will remain a 4-3 defense, if Houston stands up from his LDE position while the linebackers slide over to the right and the defensive linemen slide a bit to their left, the offense will see a 3-4 look. That little wrinkle changes how offensive lines will block a given play and it adds to their game-plan time during their "Bears week" prep. Just by having a player like Houston in the fold, the Bears can give some of the hybrid looks that are so prevalent these days.
While not putting up eye popping sack numbers in Oakland, Houston did compile 63 total pressures -- sacks, hurries and quarterback hits -- according to Pro Football Focus. He's also dropped in coverage in the past, and he's very stout against the run. In fact, PFF had him with the 2nd most stops -- any play that results in an offensive failure -- to only All Pro J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans. Watt had 67 stops and Houston had 54 in 2013. With as awful as the Bear run D was last year, Houston will be provide the unit a huge boost.
I found these two video clips while researching Houston, so I figured I'd pass them along in case you've yet to see them. The first is Houston talking about new teammate Jared Allen and the second is Houston having a little fun.