Oakland Raiders Position Breakdown: Safety

The Oakland Raiders safety positions is not one of their strong suits. While they have solid starters at each safety position, the depth is questionable at best. The Raiders suffered a rash of injuries last season, which included starting free safety Michael Huff who missed four games last season. Depth will become even more important if Michael Huff spends some time playing at the corner position as has been speculated this off season.

The strong safety position boasts a starter in Tyvon Branch, that very well could find his way to the Pro Bowl in upcoming seasons (if there is one...). Branch has shown himself to be a very sturdy player and has not missed a game since he became a starter in 2009. But Branch cannot play every single down, and some formations call for more safeties, so depth is still an important issue.

The Raiders currently have 6 safeties on the roster:

Michael Huff
Tyvon Branch
Matt Giordano
Mike Mitchell
Aaron Henry
Curtis Taylor

Tyvon Branch and Mike Mitchell are the only two strong safeties in this group. While having another strong safety would be nice, it is not a major priority. As noted above, Branch has proven himself to be a sturdy player, and Mike Mitchell has been improving every year. Branch is consistently one of the team's top tacklers, and is a true ball hawk. At the end of every play, you are guaranteed to see Branch somewhere near the ball, if not involved in the tackle. Mitchell was a second round draft pick that has taken a while to get used to playing at the next level. He is a more than satisfactory back up, but still has a long way to go before he can be much more than just a guy who spells the starter. Despite the lack of depth, the strong safety position is a bright spot in the Raiders secondary.

At free safety, the Raiders have starter Michael Huff, back up Matt Giordano, undrafted free agent Aaron Henry and practice squad player Curtis Taylor. Huff has never been able to live up to his high draft status, but has played much better the past few seasons. Early concerns about Huff's work ethic seem to have been dispelled as he has been a much more active player recently. He is still not the impact player that the Raiders were looking for when they took him with the 7th pick of the 2006 draft, but he has become a solid NFL starter. When Huff was forced to miss four games due to injuries last season, the Raiders found themselves lucky to have signed Matt Giordano as his back up. In his first season with the Raiders, Giordano led the team in interceptions and quickly became a fan favorite. While his lack of size was a disadvantage at times, his feel for the game and penchant for being in the right position often made up for it. Definitely not a starter in the NFL, but Giordano is certainly a very strong back up.

In Curtis Taylor, the Raiders basically have a camp body and potentially a practice squad player. Taylor has been in camp or on practice squads around the NFL for a few years now, but has been unable to stick with a team. Aaron Henry, on the other hand, could be a big pick up for the Raiders who could use some depth at safety with the loss of Hiram Eugene this off season. Henry was a guy that many had given a mid to late round draft grade to, but for whatever reason, he went undrafted. If he deserved that mid to late round grade, he could stick as a special teams player and add depth to the safety position.

For more on the Oakland Raiders, join the discussion over at Silver And Black Pride. You can also check out everything we have to offer at SB Nation’s NFL hub.

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