Thus poised with a pair of third round picks Pioli nabbed Houston with a decisive demeanor. Now in this third season with the Chiefs, Houston might ultimately be Pioli's best draft pick.
Houston's ceiling is as high as it can get. He's grown into his role, not only as a starter, but a playmaker. With the game on the line, the defense needing a big stop, Houston has the ability to change the course of a game with a single sack.
As he gets ready for Fridays exhibition opener against the New Orleans Saints, he understands the only way to get better is to work hard and stay focused.
"The whole team is focused. I just want to get better each and every year. I just want to improve my game. Any little thing I can do to make my game better, I'm trying to do," Houston said.
The good news about Houston is that despite his troubled start in the NFL he's never made any excuses. He came to the Chiefs with a chip on his shoulder and has never appeared to be anything but humble and appreciative the Chiefs gave him a chance. Best of all though he's still striving to improve his game.
"I think my potential is through the roof. I need to continue to get better and that's my goal," Houston stated.
To his fortune, he is paired opposite fellow Pro Bowl Linebacker, Tamba Hali. Together they make up the best pass rushing tandem within the division. And that's something this team can't underscore if it wants to compete for the division crown versus the Broncos.
""It's really helpful," Houston said of his pass rushing teammate. "Anytime you have two dominant pass rushers it makes it a whole lot easier. They're not just focused on one guy; they have two guys to worry about."
At the moment, the potential of the Chiefs defense this season probably rests in the dominance of their linebacker core. With Houston, Hali, Derrick Johnson and rookie Nico Johnson, the four horsemen have athleticism and mad talents.
But with the talents of Houston and his mates, comes a sense of urgency and expectations. Overall the Chiefs 2013 defense has an opportunity to wash away the stain of a poor 2012 season. That means Houston, and the rest of his brethren; have to believe in one another on every snap.
"We've got great players and great coaches. We're all working together to be on one page, and if we can make that happen, we can do some great things this year," Houston stated.
So what can we expect on Friday Night versus the Saints? Houston says he's just ready to hit someone other than one of his teammates.
"We've been hitting the same guys every day. We're just ready to hit somebody else. We're tired of seeing the same faces and hitting the same guys," he said.
And that means Houston gets to do the one thing he does best, create havoc.
"I'm tired of tagging-off on the quarterback and staying away, I'm ready to touch one."
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Can Justin Houston cross the barrier to Super Star?
For all the news, notes and quotes on the Chiefs, visit WarpaintIllustrated.com