Hole at Safety: Packers should kick the tires on Michael Huff : Packers Insider

Hole at Safety: Packers should kick the tires on Michael Huff

April 1, 2014 by  
Filed under News

By Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider.com senior editor

~AJ Hawk was the fifth overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, Mike McCarthy’s first as Packer head coach.

Last year at this time, Super Bowl champion Baltimore replaced Ed Reed with Michael Huff. It was a move Ozzie Newsome felt was a good one. However, the Ravens opened the year at Denver and Peyton Manning threw an NFL-record 7 touchdown passes against the Ravens defense. Huff didn’t work out and the Ravens had a bad year overall. Huff was released later in the season and picked up by the Broncos. He saw action in the Super Bowl. He could now be added for less money than what the Packers pay Morgan Burnett for one month of work.

Among the other players who were strongly considered for that pick were current 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata, and former Longhorn safety Michael Huff.

The Packers, of course, took Hawk with that pick. The other guys went in the picks soon after. Huff went 7th. Davis went 6th.

Davis and Ngata have become stars and have appeared in Pro Bowls. Hawk has not lived up to those lofty expectations. But he’s been the most healthy and available Packer since he was drafted.

What about the safety, Huff?

Michael Huff once had elite ability. A very rare blend of speed and size.

Well, he was a disappointment in Oakland. He played seven seasons in the black hole. But he did only miss four games in seven years.

Last year, he split his time between the reigning Super Bowl champions the Ravens, and the new AFC champion Broncos.

He’s currently a free agent, and could be had for the veteran minimum easily. He would not command any significant signing bonus or guaranteed money.

He’s allowed some touchdowns and completions. But he also has made some plays, and still has exceptional athletic ability.

For what he did in college, at a big time program, and what his skills, combine times and measurements were, he’d again be the easy, clear-cut top-rated safety if he were entering this draft.

But something happened in Oakland and last year where he didn’t make the jump that everyone, I mean all the scouts and analysts, expected.

I believe if coached up in Green Bay, Huff would be a huge upgrade at starting safety along side Morgan Burnett than anything the team had last year next to Burnett.

His final four seasons in Oakland, 2009-2012, he had at least two interceptions each season. And that was behind a bad defense on a bad team who was trailing most of the time and didn’t have to pass much.
Remember, the combined number of interceptions the whole Packers cast of safeties had last season was zero. Nada. Nothing.

Huff is also a capable blitzer, as his 2010 season with four sacks shows.

Giving Huff a chance certainly couldn’t hurt anything. He’s a talented and athletic player, who has no significant injury history. He was talented enough that him being a top-ten pick in that 2006 draft was a seemingly safe pick.

Here Huff makes a solo tackle on Niners runningback Frank Gore.

Much like the 49ers have recently added former first-round “talents” on the cheap (or not so cheap) from other teams in: Donte Whitner, Glen Dorsey, Ted Ginn, Carlos Rogers, Ahmad Brooks, Justin Smith, and Anquan Boldin, there’s little risk and high reward possible.

Michael Huff beats Mike Wallace and picks off an end-zone pass from Ben Roethlisberger two seasons ago.

Huff has played badly. He’s been beaten on passing plays.
Huff might not provide anything to the Packers.

But he won’t cost much and he could, perhaps, blossom in Dom Capers’ defense and add something on the back end.

Huff beats Julio Jones to the ball and intercepts a Matt Ryan pass in a game a few years ago at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

There’s absolutely no reason Ted Thompson shouldn’t at least bring Huff in for an extended look.

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