ALLEN PARK - Terrence Holt signed his one-year tender offer from the Lions at $721,000 and remains penciled in at the starting free safety position but it is clear the Lions are not entirely satisfied with the talent they have opposite strong safety Kenoy Kennedy.
Holt, a former 5th round draft pick from North Carolina State, got the starting position a season ago, but responded with a so-so season that made the team wonder if he was really capable of manning the position on every down basis or if he was better off just being a fill in. So it's little wonder that Detroit casts a longing gaze at University of Texas safety Michael Huff as the annual NFL draft looms.
Huff has the kind of ideal size and speed (4.4 40-yard time) that makes pro scouts drool. The Thorpe award winner has throughout his college career shown the two things that the scouts are looking for; the football smarts that allow him to diagnose a play and react immediately and the sure tackling ability that protects the team from giving up the big scoring play.
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The thing that's most impressive about Huff is that he doesn't miss tackles, period. Once you're in his sights, you're going down. Huff recorded 109 tackles, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries his senior season for Texas.
Huff said he takes pride in being a player who can cover, tackle and direct a defense and he wants to take on the challenge of doing it at the next level.
"I think it's kind of a new breed of safety with myself, Troy Polamalu
(Pittsburgh), and Ed Reed (Baltimore)," Huff said. "Safeties have to do more
than just stay in the middle of the field and hit; now they have to cover and
blitz and do it all, and that's what I like to do."
Huff has grown into the role.
As a freshman, his position coach Duane Akini chided him often for being less than physical. Huff himself admits, "when I first got there, I still considered myself a track guy, a speed guy. I pretty much just wanted to run around and look pretty."
But now at the well chiseled 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, he doesn't shy away from a well placed hit, but his strong suit is still having the ability to cover. He honed those skills going up against current Lions wide receiver Roy Williams in practice at Texas.
Huff is such a good cover man, that some teams are flirting with the idea of moving him to corner, a position that he believes he can play. Huff says he's been taking a 'crash course' on the position and trying to get his skills up in case a team wants him to work out for them at the position.
He visited with the Lions two weeks ago during the teams off-season conditioning program and came away impressed with the team and its facilities. While he admits he'd love to play for either Miami (weather) or his hometown favorite Dallas, he said he's prepared to play (and live) in a snowy climate like Buffalo or Detroit. If it's Detroit, he has two former collegiate teammates in Williams and defensive end Cory Redding to help him feel at home in Detroit.
The most likely scenario that would keep Huff out of Motown would be an unanticipated fall or trade that had A.J. Hawk, the oustanding (and possible middle) linebacker from Ohio State on the board at No. 9. Hawk visited the Lions on April 4. Detroit would almost be forced to take Hawk due to lingering injuries to both Boss Bailey and Teddy Lehman. Detroit is currently lining up Paris Lenon as the starter at the middle position. The other potential scenario is Buffalo, with former safety Dick Jauron as the head coach, taking Huff at eight overall.
Detroit is likely hoping that Buffalo goes with an interior lineman like Oregon's Haloti Ngata or Florida State's Broderick Bunkley at the position leaving Huff for them. Detroit also could consider a swap with Buffalo to move up to grab Huff. That likely would involve a player or a future draft pick.
Michael Huf Video:
Michael Huff Pre-Draft Interview
LIONS TRACKS: Like Huff, Oklahoma guard Davin Joseph visited the Lions facilities with defensive end Mario Williams two weeks ago and told the Sporting News. "I had some interviews with (the Lions) coaches before I sat in on the offensive line meeting. I'm guessing if the Lions want me it would be in the second round, though. At this point, I don't care. I just want to get back to playing football."