Micah Hyde is a good NFL player. One thing is absolutely certain: he’s a hell of a punt returner. Hyde has averaged over 13.5 yards per return in his career and has taken 3 punts back to the house while splitting duty with Randall Cobb. Ideally, Cobb can stick to offense, Hyde can return punts and rookie Ty Motgomery can handle kickoffs. The big question is: what do you do with Hyde on defense?
In his rookie season, Micah Hyde surprised everyone by being an effective slot corner immediately as a 5th round pick. Viewed as a player lacking the long speed to defend the boundary, Hyde quickly became a favorite of the fans and the coaching staff because of his ability to excel in the slot. Hyde was an effective tackler (which is important because of how often the Packers play nickel) and could play the ball excellently.
In his second season Hyde made the move to free safety. His ball skills and tackling were again cited in a position where his (perceived) lack of speed wouldn’t be as much of a problem. It also covered up a position that had struggled mightily the season before.
The issue quickly became that the Packers had used their first round pick on Alabama safety HaHa Clinton-Dix, and he was a hell of a player. Because Clinton-Dix needed to get on the field and because Casey Hayward was a little beat up, Hyde moved back to his role as an inside cornerback. Hyde played well again and is clearly part of the Packers future.
Fast forward to this year. Safety has gone from one of the weakest positions on the team to one of the strongest. HaHa Clinton-Dix is a budding superstar. Morgan Burnett bounced back and has always played better with a capable safety playing next to him. Sean Richardson has shown the Packers so much that they matched a $2.55 million dollar offer sheet from the Raiders to make sure he’s on the team as well.
Cornerback has gone from the strength of the team to one of the biggest question marks on the Packers. Tramon Williams signed a contract that the Packers were never going to match with the Browns. Davon House signed a contract that the Packers were never going to match with the Jaguars. All of a sudden the young cornerbacks for the Packers are the only cornerbacks for the Packers.
The problem with all of these young corners is that it seems like outside of Sam Shields and to a (much) lesser extent Demetri Goodson, they all seem to be inside corners. Someone is going to have to play outside. Just looking at the height chart, Hyde should theoretically be in the running to start outside. Considering Casey Hayward’s inability to stay healthy, Hyde should theoretically be in the running to start outside.
I do understand these points, but the situation is as follows: the Packers have the best cornerbacks coach in the world and they just drafted two of the best possible athletes for him to mold in round one (Damarious Randall) and round two (Quentin Rollins). If something really bad happens one of either Shields or Hayward, one of those two or Demetri Goodson or undrafted find Ladarius Gunter will have to step up.
I don’t think people understand how much trouble the Packers might be in if something happened to HaHa Clinton-Dix. It would leave Green Bay with two strong safeties in Morgan Burnett and Sean Richardson. Richardson is a liability in coverage at this point in his career and that usually leads to reduced productivity from Burnett. It’s so much easier for a player in Capers’ defense to go between slot corner and safety than it is outside corner and safety.
Hyde needs to continue to play in space in case something happens to HHCD and he really has to play in space. One thing’s for sure though, with Hyde going into his 3rd season he’s going to be a big reason that 2015 will be a special season in Green Bay.