Can run away from defenders when he gets in the open field
Burst to the hole and second level
Runs with great balance
Has a nose for the end zone
Wears down defenses
Has potential as a receiver
Capable of controlling games
Runs well in the second half
Perfect fit for a zone-blocking system
Plays with a swagger
Great short-yardage back
Great goal-line back
Good ball security
Can change the complexion of an offense as a physical runner
Experienced and successful against good college programs
Will have to learn pass protection
Summary: The 2013 NFL Draft broke a 50-year streak of a running back being selected in the first round. The downgrading of running backs is only going to continue as the NFL continues to become a pass-happy league. This year, the new trend of no running backs being selected in the top-32 picks looks likely to continue. However, the player who has the best shot of limiting that streak to just one year is Hyde.
WalterFootball.com has heard from sources around the league that there are multiple teams that have first-round grades on Hyde. That being said, these sources still acknowledge that he is more likely to be selected on Friday night.
Hyde averaged 5.2 yards per carry for 970 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2012. He was suspended for the first three games of the 2013 season. After returning to the lineup for the Buckeyes, the senior dominated the Big Ten. Hyde had huge games against Northwestern (26-168), Iowa (24-149) and Purdue (16-147). Against Illinois, he was unstoppable. Hyde totaled 247 yards on 24 carries with four touchdowns on the ground with two receptions for 26 yards and a score. In 2013, he averaged 7.3 yards per carry for 1,521 yards with 15 touchdowns. Hyde also had 16 receptions for 147 yards and three scores through the air.
The powerful Hyde is a one-cut downhill runner who picks up a lot of yards after contact. He runs over defenders and is a physical force. In short-yardage and goal-line situations, Hyde should be an instant asset in the NFL with his ability to power ahead for tough yards.
Hyde isn't just a power back. He has a lot of quickness to hit the hole before it closes and also shows a second gear to run away from defenders when he gets in the open field. Hyde showed some receiving ability in college and could be a nice weapon on screens. Like all college backs, he will have to develop his pass-blocking skills, but he should be able to pick that up.
Hyde is a perfect fit for a zone-blocking scheme as a one-cut downhill runner. He could also work in a man scheme. For the NFL, Hyde is a plug-and-play draft pick. He could be an instant difference-maker like Eddie Lacy was for the Packers last season. Hyde's physical style could provide a new identity to any team. He should be an asset as a first- and second-down runner as early as his rookie season.
Some teams are grading Hyde as a first-rounder, while others are giving him a second-round grade. Hyde is a favorite to be the first running back selected in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Ricky Williams. Williams is the back who Hyde patterned his game after, and it shows in Hyde's running style. Williams was a mix of a power runner with quickness. He could handle a big work load, and the same attributes apply to Hyde. In the NFL, I could see Hyde being a similar back to Williams.
NFL Matches: Houston, Jacksonville, Tennessee, New York Giants, Cleveland, San Diego, Oakland, Miami, New York Jets, Atlanta
There are a lot of teams that are going to target running backs on the second day or in the mid-rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft. The most likely landing spots for Hyde could be the Browns, Texans, Titans and Jets.
Cleveland needs a starting running back. If the team decides to address other positions in the first two rounds, the Browns could use one of their second-day picks on Hyde. Cleveland could get a nice value by targeting a back like Hyde early in Round 2.
In the AFC South, Hyde has a few landing spots. The Texans could use a running back behind Arian Foster. Ben Tate left in free agency, and Foster has had injuries, so it looks very likely that Houston will be drafting a running back. Hyde could fit the Texans at the top of Round 2. The Jaguars could use a feature runner for their offense, even though they brought Toby Gerhart to Jacksonville. The Titans moved on from Chris Johnson, and Hyde would be a nice replacement for Tennessee as a back with some power.
The Jets could use a featured runner for their offense. Hyde landing with New York makes a lot of sense to give the Jets the ground-and-pound offense they've been wanting. Elsewhere in the AFC East, Miami could still draft a running back even after signing Knowshon Moreno. Hyde could be brought in to lead the Miami offense.
Returning to the Big Apple, the Giants signed Rashaad Jennings in free agency while David Wilson is coming back from a dangerous neck injury. Adding another runner could make sense for New York. Hyde would be a nice fit in the Giants' offense to give the team a young Brandon Jacobs-type runner.
In the AFC West, San Diego has Ryan Mathews, but he's been hurt often and was a pick of the prior regime. Donald Brown may not offer much as a backup. Hyde would be a good fit for the Chargers' offense. Oakland re-signed Darren McFadden to a 1-year deal and added Maurice Jones-Drew, but those veterans have been injured a lot and aren't long-term solutions.
Atlanta made a short-term signing with Steven Jackson, but the Falcons need a starter for the long haul. Hyde could be a nice fit in Atlanta and transform the team's offense with a physical runner.