2014 NFL Scouting Combine: Running Back Musings


Feb 21, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back Carlos Hyde speaks to the media in a press conference during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

In this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, Carlos Hyde of Ohio State gave a great example of how not to approach the draft process.  Whether by his own decision or likely that of an agent, the Buckeye running back opted not to compete in the Reese’s Senior Bowl.  This was not an injury issue; simply a strategic decision.  Had he gone, he likely would have been able to have a great week against a middling field of backs and worked to establish himself as a top back in this draft.

This past week, Hyde was able to get the medical done and team interviews, but his workouts were a giant incomplete.  He pulled up lame with an apparent hamstring injury at the end of his first 40 yard dash.  The injury is not on anyone and it could happen to anyone, but right now, Hyde’s perceived value is in flux.  Since playing in the Orange Bowl against Clemson, Hyde has not been able to do anything.  Now, he to get healthy enough to work out at his pro day and there is a substantial amount of pressure and risk.  If he simply has a bad day or pulls up lame again, he has no other workout to fall back on and recoup his losses.

Had Hyde gone to the Senior Bowl and played well, it would not as big of a deal that he was unable to complete the combine drills.  Certainly, teams would like to see him do it, but they would have had the opportunity to see Hyde run the ball up close, in Mobile, in pads.  With agents telling players not to compete, this is the risk being run.  Ultimately, Hyde could still be the first running back taken off the board, but this feels like a tactical error on his agency’s part.

Meanwhile, a relative unknown to many in Jerick McKinnon keeps competing and showing well.  The former quarterback and wing at Georgia Southern has to prove he can run between the tackles like a legitimate running back, but he opened eyes in Mobile and was terrific at the combine in workouts.  Competing and answering the bell has a player like McKinnon becoming difficult to ignore.