Oakland Raiders Player Profile: Undrafted Free Agent Aaron Henry
Jimmy Hal – Jun 11, 2012
General manager Reggie McKenzie has been mostly known for his ability to evaluate talent. When many felt the Oakland Raiders had not done much to improve in free agency, McKenzie stuck to his plan by signing players that were not considered sought-after commodities in the free agent market. Instead, he signed players who would fit the team’s future scheme while providing depth throughout the roster. In the NFL draft, again the masses doubted the Raiders' ability to improve with a lack of draft picks.
Still, McKenzie had a plan to pick the best players available when it was his turn to pick. So far in OTA’s, the 2012 draft class looks promising and looks to fulfill McKenzie’s attempt to provide depth and competition at all positions on the team. Due to McKenzie’s lack of draft picks, he also had to be aggressive in undrafted free agency as well.
Undrafted free agency is always a crapshoot. Sometimes you can find a diamond in the rough that could turn out to be a cornerstone of a team, or just find enough talent to fill out a team’s practice squad.
The Raiders will be looking at the secondary when evaluating undrafted free agent Aaron Henry. The safety position for the Raiders has it’s starters in place with Tyvonn Branch and Michael Huff, but the backup roles for those two players have not been set in stone.
Matt Giordano had his moments to shine in 2011, but he was equally as inconsistent. Now in 2012 Giordano will be reunited with Dennis Allen as they both have a history from their days with the New Orleans Saints. Backup Mike Mitchell has also had his moments to shine, yet has never become a true force at the safety position.
Aaron Henry definitely has a chance to make this team and have an impact on this defense. Though the 2012 draft was not the best safety class, Henry was considered a top five free safety prospect, in a safety class that was strong safety dominant. Despite Henry’s ranking as a free safety, he still did not get an invite to the NFL Combine.
Some believe Henry may have been the most overlooked safety in the college ranks. In Henry’s four year Wisconsin career, Henry produced 181 tackles, seven interceptions, and 24 passes defensed. Henry’s forte is in pass coverage, and a backup with that kind of skill-set can allow a secondary to remain versatile.
Starting free safety Michael Huff has progressed throughout his seven year career, and though head coach Dennis Allen will keep Huff primarily at the free safety position, Huff is also a threat as a nickel corner. If Huff is sparingly used as a corner, it is beneficial to have a backup that continues to thrive in pass coverage.
Though Henry does excel in pass coverage, he also packs a punch when attacking the line of scrimmage. He is a solid tackler that takes the right angles when facing opponents. One of Henry’s most impressive traits is that he does not take many gambles when asked to be the last line of defense. That is something Giordano struggled with in 2011 despite his interception production.
If Henry can prove to be versatile enough to also play strong safety, Mitchell may also need to watch his back. Mitchell has been nursing a knee injury recently so a lot of his snaps in practice are going to other players fighting for a roster spot.
McKenzie has done a more-than-adequate job in finding talent. It is now time for that talent to prove how hungry they really are, and Aaron Henry is not exception.
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