Be wary of big-time players out of the University of Texas.
That’s the lesson I’ve taken from watching Vince Young and Michael Griffin at close range, and guys such as Ricky Williams, Cedric Benson and Michael Huff from afar. It seems they get babied in Austin, and that such star treatment don't help them get ready for the stresses of the NFL. (Derrick Johnson was slow to come around. Brian Orakpo has been an exception.)
I loved Huff as a Longhorn. He has not turned into the NFL player I expected him to be.
Still, in a league in which the safety position is generally weak and the draft offers little in the form of immediate impact solutions, news that Huff is going to be on the open market when there is an open market is significant. The Raiders may well have been finished with him anyway, but contract complications will set him free.
You might have heard in this space (a few dozen times) that the Texans and Jaguars are in dire need at safety. And even if Huff is not a target of wither team, an additional available veteran can only help them.
If we see four-year players without contracts become free agents, I think both teams should chase Eric Weddle from San Diego or Melvin Bullitt from Indianapolis. (Jacksonville will shop; we’re not sure about Houston.)
Both teams should investigate Huff, too. He could be a cheaper option and a change of scenery might help him become the player some of us expected when he was drafted.
At the very least, the Jaguars and Texans should hope other teams hunting for a safety look at Huff and like the combination of price and potential, perhaps taking one of them out of contention for Weddle or Bullitt.
Heading into 2010, here’s what Scouts Inc. said about Huff:
"Huff is an athletic safety with above average speed and good acceleration, but he has struggled to establish himself in the secondary. Huff has started and played at both safety positions but just can't seem to take either one and run with it. Huff can be a heavy hitter when lined up inside the box and he recognizes the play as it develops. Unfortunately, he also will look like he overanalyzes or freezes up at times and can be slow to pull the trigger. Huff needs a lot of work on route recognition and reading the quarterback's eyes when in off coverage."
Matt Williamson of Scouts said Huff helped himself in 2010.
"I like Huff quite a bit," he said. "He struggled early in his career, but really came into his own last year. He can do a lot of things well, but I think he is at his best away from the line of scrimmage in more of a deep patrol role. Huge upgrade for either Houston or Jacksonville."