Fifth Round: 159th Pick
The third day of the NFL draft encompasses a group of players who will primarily fill backup and special teams roles on NFL rosters. There are, however, several diamonds in the rough each year.
Micah Hyde is under the radar despite being a key performer for Iowa's defense for many years. Can the defensive back, who saw time at both cornerback and safety, show that he has a versatile enough skill set for the NFL?
At 6'0" and nearly 200 pounds, Hyde is a great size for the position, and has good speed to go along with it. He is aggressive in defending the run and is not afraid to get physical against the opposition.
He also has the length and athleticism to be able to deflect passes and make picks, and more importantly is able to wrap up receivers downfield after the catch.
While Hyde is good in zone coverage, he doesn't have the straight-line speed to move downfield with receivers. He also struggles to turn corners tightly, and a receiver stopping on a dime could trip him up.
When making open field tackles, Hyde tends to duck his head and lean in with the crown of his helmet. It makes it harder to tackle the guy if he can evade it and is no longer allowed in the NFL.
At the combine, Hyde ran a 4.56 40-yard dash, and put up a broad jump of 10'1", both solid numbers for a defensive back. His 3-cone drill time of 6.78 seconds in particular was one of the best in the combine.
Conversely, only 12 receptions in the bench press causes questions about his strength given his size, and his shuttle times were on the slow side as well, so he may not have the best lateral quickness.
Hyde was a three-year starter in the Big Ten, and has no serious injuries that could creep up in the future. He hasn't run into any trouble, whether it's legal issues or issues in the clubhouse, which is always good to see, and he served as defensive team captain his senior year.
Iowa used Hyde both in man and zone roles, but primarily used him as a man cornerback. As a cornerback he tended to cover receivers that were running deep routes. He was used as a press man cornerback a lot more often than I would have figured given his skill set, which is more fitting in the zone.
Playing the Ball
Hyde shows very good ball awareness in his game film. He is also able to perceive run plays quick enough to get in to position to make a play near the line of scrimmage, and he shows great timing when he has to make a play on the ball in coverage.
This also is a bit of a drawback, since there are times, albeit uncommon, where he will be keeping an eye on the ball at the expense of a play, and as a result his footwork isn't in sync with his eyes.
Against the Run
When playing against the run, Hyde has no problem being physical and laying a hit on a runner trying to make a play. He is also a good enough tackler that he does not have to wait for another player to help out, even if the running back is bigger. As long as he is able to sniff out the run play early enough, he can get into position to be a contributor on the play.
Most of Hyde's film in the passing game comes from man coverage, and for the most part it is fairly good. He is physical enough downfield to block balls from getting to the receiver, and he has no problem tackling the player if they manage to snag a pass.
That being said, there were quite a few instances where he put his hands on the receiver before the ball got close in order to make a play. College football will look the other way, but the NFL penalizes it. He also tries to get behind the receiver on deep routes to make plays, which will be particularly difficult in the NFL given how quick those receivers are.
Despite less experience in zone coverage, Hyde's skill set fits it much better. His length and sure hands make him someone who can snag a few interceptions a season without too much difficulty.
Unlike with man coverage, he does try and move in front of the ball to make a pick, and reads his own team well enough to know when he can run in front of a receiver and make a play on the ball, avoiding a bad play going for a touchdown.
Hyde's strong point is his tackling ability. He is not only able to deliver a head-on hit, but most of his tackles come from wrapping the player around and dragging him down, which he is able to do with ease.
He has to be careful about wrapping up players too early when covering them in the NFL as noted above, but as long as he keeps an eye on where the ball is, he should not have trouble tackling.
Hyde's technique could use a bit of work. He's a bit choppy when running routes, and it takes him a little while to change direction if the play changes course. He knows where to put his hands without any problem, it's where to put his feet when moving around the field that could get him into trouble.
Versatility is a double-edged sword for Hyde. At Iowa, he spent time at both cornerback and safety. He was successful at both in college, but may not have the straight-line speed to be a man cornerback at the next level.
Despite possibly being a tweener, Hyde is physical enough that he would be able to contribute well on special teams, and even if he doesn't work at cornerback he is good enough in the zone that he would be able to play at the safety position well.
He returned punts in college, and when he has the ball in his hands, he runs quite smoothly, almost more so than when he's trying to make a play for the ball.
Hyde is projected generally in the sixth or seventh round of the draft. I see him as a seventh-round pick. He shows great flashes, but at the NFL level he will be a work in progress, as he'll have to modify quite a bit to play at that level, but if a coach is willing to work with him then he could be a nice contributor.
I see him as a safety at the next level, given his ability to read the ball in the zone and make adjustments. Putting him on a deep wide receiver as a cornerback would likely be asking for trouble in the NFL, and the way he plays the game in the secondary is closer to a safety despite having a lot more CB experience.