|Tony Ding/Associated Press|
|Ohio State's Carlos Hyde is among the top RB prospects in the 2014 draft class.|
Ohio State's Carlos Hyde continues to build a strong case to be one of the top running backs selected in the 2014 draft.
The 6-foot, 235-pound senior is an old school tailback with the size, strength and power that NFL scouts covet in feature backs. While my colleague, Gil Brandt, has said Hyde lacks speed and quickness, I didn't believe those things were an issue based on my perspective from the Michigan press box during last week's Buckeyes-Wolverines game. Hyde flashed impressive short-area quickness with the ball in his hands. I believe his second-level acceleration and burst rates slightly above average.
Of course, it is hard to get a true gauge of Hyde's speed in a matchup against a Michigan team that lacks speedsters at every level, but most NFL running backs of his size run in the 4.55 to 4.60 range in workouts. If Hyde meets those qualifications at the combine, I believe he could be a strong Day Two consideration for teams eyeing a rough and rugged workhorse to handle a heavy workload as a feature back.
Sizing up Ohio State CB Roby's draft prospects
Bradley Roby entered the season rated as one of the top cornerbacks in college football, but he has delivered a so-so junior campaign that has put his draft status in question. Talking to some scouts about Roby's play this season, I've been told that some evaluators believe he has played with a bit of "buyer's remorse" after electing to return to Ohio State for another season. An AFC North scout told me that he believed Roby really wanted to enter the draft after last season, but his family insisted on another season to push him closer to his degree. While Roby eventually agreed to return, he hasn't fully exerted himself on the field and the "cruising" makes it hard to determine his immediate upside.
Watching Roby go through a rigorous pregame workout, I believe he will be as talented as any cornerback in the 2014 class, should he follow through on his intention to declare for the draft, with exceptional physical tools for the position. He smoothly executes the turns and transitions in space, while also showing excellent quickness coming out of his breaks. Additionally, Roby caught the ball like a receiver in drills and appears to have natural ball skills at first glance.
Against the Wolverines, Roby put those skills on display with a solid performance in coverage and run support. He flew to the ball with reckless abandon and displayed the kind of effort expected from an elite prospect (Roby chased down Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon from the opposite side of the field on a 73-yard reception early in the game). Although I would like to see him clean up some of his technique in "off" coverage, I believe his combination of athleticism, ball skills and talent will make him a Day One pick, regardless of the questions surrounding his perceived effort.
Size an issue for OSU's Shazier?
There is little doubt that Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier is one of the top prospects at his position, but his size could be problematic at the next level. Listed at 6-foot-2, 222 pounds, Shazier is built more like a safety than a traditional linebacker. Standing beside the Ohio State star during pregame warmups, I was surprised at his slender frame compared to some of his peers at the position. In fact, I asked a few scouts about Shazier's size and they expressed some concerns about his ability to hold up against bigger bodies at the next level. An AFC North scout told me that Shazier will need to be "covered up" (protected by big defensive tackles) to be effective and scheme fit will be a major factor in his final evaluation. The scout told me that he views Shazier as an "ideal 4-3 weakside linebacker" or a "nickel hybrid" that excels on passing downs as a blitz/cover guy.
Of course, the transformation of the NFL into a pass-happy league enhances Shazier's value in most draft rooms, but don't be surprised if his size and slender frame becomes a major topic of discussion as the draft draws nearer.
Michigan's Gallon presents scouting dilemma
Michigan's Jeremy Gallon will force scouts to make a tough decision over whether to value production or size/speed combination on draft day.
The 5-foot-8, 187-pound senior is enjoying a productive final campaign, with 80 receptions for 1,284 yards and nine touchdowns. But his substandard physical dimensions and speed (estimated in the 4.55-4.60 range) makes it tough to envision him making a substantial impact as a slot receiver in a league that favors big players on the perimeter. While Gallon's supporters will point to his production in big games (Notre Dame, 8-184-3; Indiana, 14-369-2; Northwestern, 10-115; Ohio State, 9-175-1) as proof of his potential, others will suggest that he will struggle getting away from defenders with elite size or speed at the next level.
After watching Gallon up close against the Buckeyes, I believe he will have to earn his way onto a roster as a receiver/return specialist at the next level. Although he catches the ball well and displays some impressive running skills with the ball in his hands, it's hard to sell an undersized receiver with questionable speed to coaches looking to juice up their offensive attacks.
Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.