Entering his senior season, former Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde had to answer questions about his suspension for the first three games of the season in connection to an altercation with a young woman at a bar. Even after charges were dismissed on the Naples, Florida, native, head coach Urban Meyer held Hyde out of games against Buffalo, San Diego State, and California.
When he returned, Hyde rushed for a career-high 1,521 yards, a first for a Meyer-coached running back, and 15 touchdowns in only 11 games. After he touched ball only five times in his season opener against Florida A&M, a 76-0 blowout, Hyde would go on to carry the ball an average of 20.3 times per game, topping 100 yards in nine-consecutive games to end the season. In two of those games, including a regular season-ending victory over Michigan, Hyde exceeded 200 yards on the ground.
He may still have to answer to those character questions, but at 5'11, 230 pounds, Hyde is the kind of workhorse back that NFL teams used to fall in love with. However, the reason that Hyde isn't expected to be picked until the second round is that his powerful north-south style isn't ideal for the spread-out pro game.
Built for a team with a zone-blocking scheme, Hyde has the intangibles to become one of the best backs in the NFL. Like all prospects, Hyde has his strengths, as well as areas in which he could improve moving forward.
Power: When he lowers his pads, Hyde is like a freight train. Running with a head of steam and continuing to move his feet, Hyde is tough to bring to the ground, even for the best linebackers in the country. A simple arm tackle will not do, as Hyde will simply push the attempted tackler to the side.
Speed: Although he does not have breakaway speed, often being caught from behind on long runs, Hyde has excellent speed for his size. Hyde will often wait for a block to develop, but his deceptive speed allows him to hit the hole with a reckless abandon.
Conditioning: Although he often got better as the game went on during his senior campaign, Hyde showed signs of fatigue early in the season. It could be said that the suspension led Hyde to take his offseason conditioning less seriously as he would had he been playing. However, this was not a isolated incident, as Hyde’s weight fluctuated throughout his college career.
Elusiveness: Hyde can make a smaller defender miss an arm tackle, but will have trouble with NFL players who are just as strong as and possibly more athletic than himself. Other than his stiff arm, Hyde cannot make a defender miss with his spin more, nor will he be able to jump over someone at the next level like he could in college.
The bottom line is that Carlos Hyde will almost assuredly be the first running back off the board, but not until the second round since the NFL does not rely on a single feature back as it once did. Hyde not only has the power to have an impact on every game, especially in the physical AFC or NFC North divisions, but also the durability to last at the next level for an extended period of time.