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How Micah Hyde Can Become an Every-Down Player for Green Bay Packers

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How Micah Hyde Can Become an Every-Down Player for Green Bay Packers
Seth Wenig

Fifth-rounder Micah Hyde was not a fixture in the Green Bay Packers' base defense last year, instead seeing most of his snaps in sub-packages—but that will change in 2014.

On March 25 at the NFL owners meetings, Mike McCarthy told reporters that Hyde "deserves the opportunity to be an every-down player on our defense."

With Tramon Williams and Sam Shields slotted in as the starting corners and Casey Hayward returning to join Jarrett Bush and Davon House for depth and use in the nickel and dime packages, the Packers should increase Hyde's snaps by playing him at safety part of the time.

In his rookie season, Hyde played 39.4 percent of the defensive snaps, and the majority of those were in nickel or dime sub-packages, covering or blitzing from the slot, according to ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky.

Mike Roemer
Micah Hyde attempts to intercept Colin Kaepernick in the Wild Card Round of the 2014 playoffs.

If McCarthy truly wants to see Hyde on the field on every down, the Packers could utilize him the way they did Charles Woodson after Nick Collins' neck injury in 2011.

In certain games that year, such as in Week 3 against the Chicago Bears, Woodson played in special safety packages and covered the slot as a corner, but he continued to play outside, as well. By 2012, he was no longer manning the outside, making the switch to safety full time.

Many of the attributes Woodson brought to the table in terms of playing some snaps as a safety apply to Hyde as well, which is why a similar role for him in 2014 may be the Packers' temporary answer to fortifying the safety position alongside Morgan Burnett.

"The defense plays nickel about 60 percent of the time and Woodson is positioned in the slot and often used as an extra blitzer," Kareem Copeland wrote for the Green Bay Press-Gazette in September 2011. "His athleticism gives Capers a variety of options instead of Woodson solely being on the outside chasing receivers."

The same is true for Hyde. Coming out of Iowa prior to the 2013 draft, NFL.com's scouting profile noted his strengths: "Height, vertical, and strong hands allow him to snatch jump balls away and knock away throws between levels of the defense." Interestingly, NFL.com noted the fact that he was a tweener as a weakness, but McCarthy and the Packers clearly see it as an advantage in 2014.

Hyde also proved he had a nose for the ball in 2013, though he did not record an interception. Per NFL.com's Chris Wesseling, Hyde was responsible for half of the secondary's forced fumbles (though ESPN only credits him with one). At Iowa, where he played as both a safety and a corner, Hyde had 78 tackles, 14 pass breakups, one interception, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries his senior year. 

NFL Game Rewind
Blitzing off the edge, Micah Hyde gets a sack and a forced fumble on Joe Flacco.

After a successful rookie year, Hyde is ready to explode onto the scene in 2014. 

Getting Hyde more involved doesn't preclude Green Bay from taking a safety relatively high in the draft, either. In fact, McCarthy's statements to the media indicate that the Packers aren't likely to pigeonhole Hyde into solely a starting safety or slot corner role.

"We're going to give Micah the opportunity to play on all three downs—whether that's corner, nickel, dime, safety," McCarthy said. "That's the versatility I think he brings to our football team."

Woodson described his responsibilities when he was playing a blend of safety and corner in 2011: "I may have to fill the B gap, I may have to contain, I may have to take the tight end on the pass play," he told Copeland. Now, Hyde may be asked to take on similar responsibilities in a similar "Corner Okie" package next season.

The Packers run their base defense on less than half of their total snaps, and young, versatile players such as Hayward and Hyde who have developed in the system give Capers multiple options for sub-packages. Hyde becoming a three-down player is another step in improving this secondary in 2014.

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