Carlos Hyde is a great example of a player that underscores my philosophy about evaluation.
I enjoy when I have a player ranked accurately on a numerical scale, but it’s not even close to the most important thing about player evaluation. The most important thing about a good numerical ranking is that it brings certain people to my site and influences them to buy the RSP after they take a closer look and realize that there’s a lot more to my work than a linear ranking.
One of the most important things to me as a talent evaluator is the accuracy of how I describe a player’s talents and what I project from him beyond a numerical ranking. Scheme fit and depth chart competition has a significant amount of weight that doesn’t factor into analyzing how talented a player is and it’s why I believe it’s more important that when you open the RSP and read something about a player you get the following:
- Things he can do well as a football player and athlete.
- Things he currently doesn’t do well as a football player and athlete.
- The things he can most likely do something about to improve his football skills and athleticism.
- The things he’ll have a more difficult time improving when it comes to his football skills and athleticism.
This is why I spend my time studying players and tracking fine details about what they do and might learn to do than writing articles about how my rankings have changed each week, month, or quarter. I’m going to be wrong about both rankings and how I analyze players, but I’m far more focused on what I say about the player than where he belongs on a list. My process is about learning from what I miss with what I write as opposed to what number I stuck to the left of his name.
With that said, for whatever it’s worth to you, Hyde was my No.1 back in the post-draft publication and my No.8 option in the pre-draft RSP. Here’s a summary of my thoughts about Hyde in the pre-draft analysis:
8. Carlos Hyde, Ohio State (5-11, 220)
Hyde is a big, strong back with enough burst to get outside on designed runs. Once he gets outside, he gets down hill in a hurry. He has the burst to win the edge and the balance to bounce off hits or extend his body forward for additional yardage. Hyde is a decisive, short-yardage running back capable of getting down hill fast, keeping his pads low, and attacking the crease to split defenders.
He finishes a lot of runs with good extension for the yardage and the first down marker. I also like that Hyde has a quick enough first step to burst forward or change direction in the backfield with a dip or start-stop move to avoid penetration. However, he’s not so dynamic that he’ll bounce plays outside. Hyde can find a second crease and he often shows the wisdom to make a smaller move to avoid the contact and then get down hill. He carries the ball with either arm and protect the ball with both arms in traffic.
He can out quick linebackers to the secondary. As a pass blocker, Hyde demonstrates good diagnostic skill. He’ll read the pressure and adjust if he sees a higher priority defender working through the line. He delivers his hands with a sound punch and squared pads. Hyde can stone a defender. Even as a lead blocker Hyde demonstrates some skill with press and cut principles to set up a linebacker. Hyde gets position and seals defenders in this manner very well.
If Hyde were to ever suffer some sort of injury that robbed him of his top explosiveness, he could still play at a high level as a fullback. Hyde can get too zealous as a blocker and overextend into his contact, which prevents him from delivering any follow-up push. He doesn’t move his feet after a good punch, which allows defenders to work past Hyde with little resistance. He also has to avoid dropping his head into contact he makes with a defender when pass blocking.
Although Hyde has good power when defenders deliver hits to his body, his stiff arm lacks a hard punch. He pushes defenders instead of delivering a jab that knocks opponents off-balance. Hyde can make some sharp lateral cuts, but they aren’t that effective in most situations at the college level. It’s difficult to expect this agility to translate to his pro game with great success. He couldn’t maintain balance with the sharp cuts in the games I saw and with his size and skill set, he shouldn’t be trying a lot of jump cuts.
Though his burst will get him to the second level, and occasionally the edge, Hyde lacks deep speed. He needs to consistently carry the ball under his left arm when the field position dictates. Hyde reminds me a lot of Stephen Davis, a good back with enough speed to generate some unexpected big plays. If he’s paired with a run heavy offense and a good line, with a mixture of gap and zone plays, he could savor some Pro Bowl seasons.
If the line is average and the passing game lacks weaponry, Hyde will help his team but he’ll look more like Cedric Benson in Cincinnati—a high-volume runner with less than ideal yards per carry efficiency, keeping his squad on schedule despite a lack of big plays.
Pre-NFL Draft Fantasy Advice: Hyde will be among the top-five backs drafted in April. Top-three is also realistic. One of the safer backs in the class, Hyde is worth picking earlier than I’ve rated him. However, I’d trading back and taking picks as it merits. Because in Hyde’s case, team fit may spell a greater difference between Hyde having a career as a fantasy RB1 with a heavy workload and a low-end RB2 in a committee as a short yardage runner. Look at LeGarrette Blount’s career if you’re not sure what I mean.
For analysis of skill players in this year’s draft class, download the 2015 Rookie Scouting Portfolio – available now. Better yet, if you’re a fantasy owner the Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2012 – 2015 RSPs at no additional charge. Best, yet, 10 percent of every sale is donated to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse. You can purchase past editions of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio for just $9.95 apiece.