Michael Huff's Downfall: The Demise of an Oakland Raider

RoryCorrespondent IMarch 10, 2009

Michael Huff was drafted by the Oakland Raiders as their first round pick (seventh overall) in the 2006 NFL Draft. He was hailed as an exceptional talent and for being equipped as an astonishing athlete (4.34 40 yard, 21 reps, 40.5" vertical).

His diversity was another reason why the pick seemed so perfect for the Raiders, as Huff could play any of the DB positions because with his  athleticism it was believed that he had the capacity to play CB in the NFL.

However, despite playing safety at college, one of the few weaknesses in Huff's game was his tackling; which was often high. This proved to be his downfall.

Huff played well in his first two years for the Raiders. He was not an exceptional player for the Raiders and didn't help initiate a Raiders revival, but he emerged to earn the starting role as SS.

This season, the Raiders tried to create a spark within Huff by bringing in SS Gibril Wilson. Huff was able to be moved to FS where it was believed he would improve his game.

Unfortunately, it did not work for neither him nor the Raiders, who ended up dropping him from the starting team and replacing him with the rather unknown Hiram Eugene, due to Huff's incapability to make simple, fundamental tackles in the open field.

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So we come to the big question: Can Huff be labelled a bust?

The Raiders have not yet upgraded the Safety position through Free Agency but they could look for an upgrade through the draft. If Huff leaves the Raiders this offseason it will be undeniable to state that Huff is a bust because I firmly believe that first round picks are the definition of a long term investment for an NFL franchise.

But despite his poor performance last year it seems more likely that Huff will return to the Silver and Black next year as we have very limited options at Safety.

For Huff to be labelled a bust I believe that it should be his game play that awards him the title, but the defense in general has not been helping him. The Raiders have been awful at stopping the run.

This has put a huge amount of pressure on our DBs to be aware of the running game when they should be more focused on coverage. To say it bluntly: Wilson didn't have to try hard to lead the Raiders in tackles because teams ran through us far too easily.

We have to ask ourselves would Huff be a beast if the whole defense was productive so he wasn't having to make so many tackles a match?

Even with these factors taken into account there is only one true reason why I believe we should keep hold of Huff; look at Nnamdi Asomugha. It took time for this ex-College first-round safety to transform into an elite DB.

In fact, as Nnamdi's transition to CB was so successful, would it be too far of a stretch for the Raiders to consider lining the versatile DB with elite speed adjacent to Nnamdi as a CB. Playing Cornerback may well become Huff's needed spark.

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This is my first article and I admit that I do not know everything about this topic. However, I am very interested to hear your thoughts and analysis on the situation.

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