Great players make a great team

In the past, the Oakland Raiders were picking up players who had potential to be great, oftentimes ignoring the prospects that showed they were great. Things have changed, especially given the production of Kirk Morrison and Oakland went back for more production this year.

When Darnell Bing of USC and Michael Huff of Texas met at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, they were both considered potential first-round draft picks as playmaking safeties.

When the Oakland Raiders convened their post-draft minicamp, they were together again -- with Huff as a first-round pick as a safety, but Bing a fourth-round fallen star who was being switched to outside linebacker.

"I'm glad we're both here," Bing said. "We're two great players and hopefully we can come out here and compete for a starting position and hopefully win the battle."

While that seems a near-certainty in Huff's case, Bing is more likely to play on some specialty defenses as well as on special teams before becoming a starting NFL linebacker.

Oakland already has Kirk Morrison, who led all NFL rookies in tackles last season, as a starter. Morrison could be joined by second-round pick Thomas Howard of Texas El-Paso.

Although exclusively a safety at Southern California, Bing looks the part of an NFL linebacker. He came to his first minicamp at 225 pounds, looked bigger, and ought to be well into the 230s by the regular season.

If Bing was terribly disappointed by falling to the fourth round, he hid it well.

"You don't have any control. You just sit around and see how things go," Bing said. "I was kind of under the (impression) I would get drafted higher, but once I was picked I was happy with it. It's a dream goal to be on an NFL team."

Envisioned by the Raiders as a linebacker with the ability to cover both tight ends and running backs out of the backfield, Bing doesn't believe the transition will be too difficult.

"I've been playing strong safety for quite awhile," Bing said. "The only difference is I don't have to drop back into the third like a regular safety does. I think I will be fine. I think I can handle the position.


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