Leading up to the NFL draft on May 8-10, Shutdown Corner will examine some of the most interesting prospects in the class, breaking down their strengths and weaknesses.
6-foot-0, 230 pounds
2013 stats: 208 rushes, 1,521 rushing yards (7.3-yard average), 15 touchdowns; 16 receptions, 143 receiving yards, three touchdowns
40-yard dash: 4.66 seconds (official time at NFL scouting combine)
The good: Hyde has a rare mix of burst, short-area quickness and balance for a 230-pound back. Head coach Urban Meyer never had a 1,000-yard rusher prior to Hyde, but there was no way he wasn't getting the ball consistently last season. Hyde dominated fourth quarters — check out the Illinois, Northwestern and Michigan games — and seemed to get better as the games wore on.
Hyde's size and power are ideal for the position, and he can work in both one- and two-back sets. He almost always breaks the first tackle attempt against smaller defenders and has great instincts and burst in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
The bad: Hyde's lack of long speed was evident at the combine with a slow 40-yard dash. He also had trouble early in his career with maintaining a good weight, and it took a while for his light to come on as a player. Hyde is not an especially elusive runner, and because of that he will absorb a lot of contact and always be an injury concern — and he has missed games in the past. He also hasn't been used extensively as a receiver or pass blocker in a pro-style passing game.
The verdict: Hyde is a great snapshot of the running back position in today's NFL game. Although many ahead-of-the-curve teams are getting back to the power run game and are seeking players with Hyde's skills, it appears there's a good chance he won't be picked until well into the second round — and he might not be the first back selected, either.
He's a rugged, determined runner who could be special in the right system and with the proper motivation. Although he had a few slip-ups early in his career in Columbus, Hyde is not considered to be a character risk. Running backs might not be in vogue these days, but the team that drafts Hyde is sure to get a competitor who could alter the identity of that offense with his power, explosion and yards after contact.
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