After serving a suspension for an off field incident that he was ultimately not arrested for, Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde has really become the work horse for the Buckeyes offense. Hyde has not only been good, but he has been extremely consistent which is something that has not always been the case with him. Any time where Ohio State has needed to get something going on offense or just needed a consistent drive when they were in a tough spot, they have turned and Hyde has been the focal point of the offense with everything else revolving around what he can do.
Hyde has a remarkable amount of physical talent for the running back position and has been able to bring a dynamic running game to a Buckeyes offense that has had its struggles with the passing game at times this season. Hyde has been the hammer that has allowed the Buckeyes to break through tough defenses and create opportunities for Braxton Miller and the rest of the offense. Hyde has been more decisive as a runner and more consistent this year and he is a fringe top 100 pick at this point. Teams will do their homework on the character issue that he dealt with in the offseason, but if Hyde passes that and continues to be consistent with how he runs the ball, he could be a tremendous asset to a team looking to add a powerful back with more speed than teams might expect. Because of his late start in the season, his potential athletic ability that should shine during the combine and the off field issue being vetted, Hyde has the potential to be a late riser in the draft process and could go higher than some might expect.
Vitals & Build
Hyde is listed at 6’ 235lbs and is an impressive athlete. He is incredibly powerful and strong but he also possesses terrific feet. Hyde is extremely agile and demonstrates impressive body control that will catch some by surprise anyone who expects him to be a pure, power back. He is explosive and has good speed for his size. Hyde is actually a better athlete than a football player and if he can more use of his athleticism, he could become an even better player this year and going into the NFL. The gap is closing in his senior year and he is getting close to unlocking everything he can be. He is NFL ready now in terms of his build, but it stands to reason he will only come in stronger and if he can do that while maintaining his athleticism, he could be extremely impressive.
First and foremost, Hyde is a power back who runs North and South. He is extremely difficult to bring down when he has his momentum going and he gets behind his pads. Hyde can wear down defenses over the course of a game and they simply get sick of trying to bring him down, so he can be a great closer at the end of the game.
For as much power as Hyde has, he is also nimble and able to make jump cuts that enable him to make opponents miss. He is quick enough and fast enough where he can get to the outside and attack opponents on the edge. Because of his strength, opponents prepare to take on a hit and Hyde will make them miss and run right by them. Hyde is much quicker and faster than many might expect and can explode through the hole with the speed to make huge runs.
Where Hyde gets himself into trouble is when he hesitates. There are times when he will take too long to read the hole or just does not hit it like he should and opponents are able to stop him before he gets started. The difference between Hyde running decisively and being hesitant is night and day. He can be downright fearsome and incredibly difficult to stop when he just attacks the line of scrimmage and finds a lane to run the ball. When he is hesitant, he is incredibly underwhelming and becomes a fraction of what he can be as a runner.
The other area that hurts Hyde is his vision. It seems so inconsistent from one play to the next. There are times when he seems to anticipate the play well, will attack the hole, make a jump cut to make someone miss and continue running like he knew what was coming. On the other hand, there are times when Hyde will run into up his guard’s butt and it is not a short yardage carry where he is just trying to get a first down and move the chains. It will be a random 1st-and-10 or 2nd-and-7 type situation and he just slams into his own lineman and then bounces off and tries to make a play from there.
If Hyde can be more consistently decisive and make better judgment when it comes to seeing plays as they develop, he can be as good as his physical tools suggest he could be. When Hyde is on his game, he can be a wrecking ball between the tackles that also has the ability to use quickness to make opponents miss and attack the outside with the speed to make big plays.
As a senior, Hyde has been far more effective and done a better job of doing the things he does well. He has been more decisive in attacking the hole, staying north and south but also showing off that impressive athleticism. If he can keep doing that and do that at the next level, he will be able to play up to his remarkable athleticism. The key is not falling back into bad habits, which have occasionally crept into games this year, but he has done a much better job of getting back into a better mode and doing what he does best.
Route Running & Technique
The Buckeyes have been a little more aggressive with utilizing Hyde’s ability in the passing game. They have sent him on deeper routes and many of the fakes to him extend into routes as opposed to just being a blocker. Because of his athleticism and impressive body control, he can be an effective pass catcher and when he is able to get the ball with fewer defenders who are smaller, he can be a menace.
Hyde’s hands are solid. He can keep working to improve them and getting more comfortable catching the ball away from his body, but he has shown he can be an effective cog in the passing game. The fact he is getting more experience this season has been extremely beneficial for the Buckeyes and Hyde.
Hyde is big, strong and athletic, so he should be able to dominate as a blocker. The dynamic of blocking to protect a quarterback like Miller with all of his athleticism is certainly different as he can make opponents miss and extend plays, but that also increases the chance for holding penalties. As a result, Hyde has had to learn quickly how to block without getting flagged. In addition, because of Miller’s athleticism, Hyde is more likely to protect pressure from up the middle than from the outside.
Hyde is tailor made for a power system that has designed running lanes. He has experience lining up behind a fullback or as a single back, but give him the ball and tell him where he needs to go. One team that has made a habit of collecting big, athletic backs has been Seattle. Marshawn Lynch is actually their smallest back at 215lbs. Robert Turbin and Christine Michael are both athletic and over 220lbs. Oakland is another team that seems to be making an effort to bring in big, athletic backs. Hyde projects as a rotational back right now but he could have a nice niche as a closer at the end of games to come in and run down tired opponents to close games. He has the potential to be a feature back if he can play up to his incredible athleticism consistently.
The best comparison for Hyde might be Eddie Lacy. Lacy is a similar size and excelled running the same style at Alabama before coming into the NFL. While Lacy and Hyde are both best served to run north and south, they both can show a little wiggle and can make an occasional player miss or make a great cut to find an opening in the defense. Lacy has been the feature back for the Green Bay Packers since being a second round pick when healthy, but they do have a stable of backs there if they choose to use them.
Hyde has so much physical talent and when he is running well, he can be dominant. He needs to continue to be decisive and anticipate plays with consistency to keep playing at a high level throughout games. If he can avoid slipping into bad habits, he can be an impressive back for an NFL team either by himself or as part of a stable.
Hyde did have the issue in the offseason with the woman in a bar and while he was not prosecuted, he did sit out for a few games because Urban Meyer thought he should not have been in the situation in the first place. Reportedly, Hyde used the time to not only work on himself as a person but worked on his craft as a member of the scout team and the difference on the field has been evident this season. Teams will still do their homework on Hyde, but he has been a much better running back this season and looks like he could secure himself a spot in the top 100 picks and could be a player who makes a late move up boards because of his late start in the season and if teams are comfortable with his character, he should be a player that works out extremely well which could all make him a late riser in the process.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com