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Point of Veau: Micah Hyde May Have to Move to Safety When Other Corners Are Healthy

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Point of Veau: Micah Hyde May Have to Move to Safety When Other Corners Are Healthy

Green Bay Packers defensive back Micah Hyde. Photo by Brian Carriveau of CheeseheadTV.com.

Cornerback Micah Hyde has been one of the pleasant surprises of training camp for the Green Bay Packers.

But once fellow cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Tramon Williams return to full health, Hyde may find himself as the odd man out at the position. At that point, a switch to safety may be in order.

Despite a lack of elite speed, you can't blame the Packers for taking Hyde for a test drive at cornerback. Through two preseason games, it doesn't appear as if the NFL is too big for him.

Hyde looks especially adept at defending the slot where he's closer to the football, is a threat to blitz and doesn't have to cover downfield nearly as often as on the perimeter.

Much like Hayward a year ago, Hyde came out of college without a blazing 40-yard dash time, but he has shown to possess football instincts and a nose for the football.

Perhaps ironically, it's the presence of Hayward that may force Hyde to switch positions. Hayward returned to practice on Monday this week for the first time since pulling his hamstring shortly before the start of training camp.

The Packers appear to be bringing Hayward back slowly at practice, and perhaps will go so far as holding him out of Friday's preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks as a precaution.

At some point, however, Hayward will get back to full speed. And when he does, it will be difficult to keep him out of the lineup after grabbing six interceptions in just his rookie season in the NFL.

The same goes for Williams, who's been injured since the first week of training camp with a bone bruise to his knee. Even though he may have had poor performances against the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers last season, Williams is still a veteran that has plenty of experience shutting down an opponent's No. 1 receiver.

Not even mentioned yet are Sam Shields and Davon House, both of whom bring experience to the cornerback position.

If Hayward, Williams, Shields and House are all healthy and Jarrett Bush is around as an insurance policy, the Packers may be inclined to move Hyde to safety where there's a lot less depth.

In trying to find a running mate for Morgan Burnett, the candidates thus far have underwhelmed in the months of July and August.

M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian have been mostly reliable for the Packers defense but rarely impressive. There's reason to think the Packers could do better at safety, and there's similar reason to believe Hyde could be that player.

In his brief stint with the Packers, Hyde has displayed a knack for being around the football and for being a physical tackler, not unlike Charles Woodson. It's also worth noting that Hyde did see occasional action at safety during his college career at Iowa.

Beyond Jennings and McMillian, there's probably not another safety in Green Bay that's worthy of making the 53-man roster, at least at this stage in their development.

If there's any hesitancy to move Hyde to safety, it may that he's slightly undersized at 197 lbs., but that hasn't stopped them from developing Jennings at the position, who's also under 200 lbs.

The Packers may also try gazing into the crystal ball at cornerback and notice that Shields is a free agent at season's end and see that Williams is at an age when cornerbacks start to lose a step.

Certainly, there are arguments that can be made both for and against using Hyde like a movable chess piece. But his fastest way onto the field may be at safety once the regular season starts.

And even if Hyde were to become primarily a safety, that wouldn't necessarily prevent the Packers defense from using him as a slot cornerback in the nickel or dime defenses. It's just a matter of where he lines up when they're aligned in their base 3-4.

In the first two preseason games, the Packers haven't been afraid to give Hyde a boatload of playing time. He led the defense, playing 39 snaps against the Cardinals in Week 1 and another 56 snaps in Week 2 versus the Rams (according to ProFootballFocus.com).

Not surprisingly, he leads the Packers with 10 tackles during the exhibition season and is credited with a sack to boot.

It will be difficult for the Packers to keep production like that off the field, and safety just might be Hyde's ticket.

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

Comments (43)

Kevin's picture

I linked to this same article on the post about the first team offense but I figure it would be worth restating here:

http://www.blackheartgoldpants.com/2013/4/26/4269086/micah-hyde-nfl-draf...

"In 2011, temporary personnel shortcomings forced him to safety in the early part of the year, and he was still at safety in a secondary that got incinerated by Iowa State QB Steele Jantz, who truly might be fictional, in a stunning 44-41 defeat. Hyde was victimized repeatedly in the defeat and looked out of sorts trying to make multiple reads before and at the snap. As soon as safety Jordan Bernstine (2012 draft pick of the Redskins) returned to the lineup, Hyde was shuttled back to cornerback and we never spoke of the safety experiment again.

"Perhaps Hyde can succeed at safety again. He has the size for it and he is athletic. But if your team spent a draft pick on Hyde expecting him to play safety, your team never watched Hyde play safety."

The article also speaks of Hyde's tendency to let punts fly over his head instead of fielding them. I hope he can be a jack of all trades returner/corner/safety but let's not get too excited just yet

ohenry78's picture

One would expect growing pains when being forced to play a position they hadn't played before and that they didn't have much time to prep for. That particular article doesn't worry me.

PackerPete's picture

This is good analysis. I think that Hyde has his strengths around the LOS, be that as a nickel CB in the slot or SS. Since Hayward is a good slot CB, and assuming everyone else is healthy, playing Hyde as SS makes a lot of sense. He is a sure tackler, good blitzer, and doesn't shy away from contact. I don't think either Hayward or Hyde can play outside CB though. Meaning that after the season, depending on FA or performances, the Packers will need at least one outside CB. I think House is vastly overrated, so keeping Shields and drafting another outside CB will be paramount. If Hyde and Hayward continue to play well in the middle as SS and nickle CB, then the middle would be solid, making it easier to focus on finding outside CB. Jennings and McMillian are backups at best. Bush is ST mainly, so a starting SS is needed.

Lars's picture

Hyde to safety, again. More like he will be the dime CB over the over-rated House. Don't see Hyde getting "playing time" over Jennings, Burnett or McMillan so he's not likely to "see the field." Many were convinced Woodson should have been moved to safety years before the packers made the move and it's the same thing w/Hyde.

Could he play S? Sure. But, Whitt was emphatic post draft he was drafted to play CB.

Mojo's picture

I am pleased with what I've seen so far with Hyde, but I must say I did watch a few of his "highlight" tapes and man, did he hold and grab a lot. But he got away with it. Don't know if he'll get away with it in the NFL. And as a corner with limited speed - *warning word play to follow: He can Hyde, but he can't run"* - he might be playing a lot of catch-up. That's why having him at safety seems the better move to me.

I know Kevin's post above about his original time at safety doesn't support that but what I've seen is an aggressive tackler who's not afraid to take on others. Seems like a safety mentality. I say he should put on some weight and help fill a spot with little depth.

MarkinMadison's picture

All of this points to a simple fact - Hyde has made the most of his opportunities, but when the other players get back they have better tools than he does. Hyde is going to need to spend a lot of time studying to get his football IQ enough to play safety, and adding a couple of pounds the weight room will not hurt either. In the meantime, he will make the team and be on the depth chart because he has done what he needs to do. In a year or two he will compete for a "starting" spot. I like the notion of Hyde as SS. As far as PR goes, I'll take a few more waive-offs v. Ross' penchant for fumbling at inopportune times. Also, I think he will be more aggressive if that is what the coaches want him to do.

Phatgzus's picture

"Penchant for fumbling at inopportune times"? He fumbled once in a playoff game after having only played the position in an actual game for 3 or 4 weeks. I wouldn't propose that that is a propensity to fumble at this time, more like a young player getting overwhelmed by the moment and trying to do too much. It's the only fumble he's had so far, Cobb had more issues in his first season than Ross has to this point. If he fumbles a couple of times in the next 10 games or so, then you'd be correct in identifying this as a "propensity".

MarkinMadison's picture

He also dropped the throw-back pass against the Bears in week 15 on a fake punt. And he bobbles a lot. You could be right, that might be his only fumble ever on a punt return, but I'd be surprised if it is because the dude is just scary to me.

Phatgzus's picture

I don't put much blame on him (or Cobb for that matter) for that drop, the pass was at his knees and that's just not a play that comes naturally, not in the chaos that is special teams play. If he does have a proclivity to fumble, then i agree with you
absolutely-take the ball wherever as long as Aaron Rodgers has anchance to do something with it.

packsmack25's picture

I just don't think the Packers front office is anywhere near as worried about safety and tight end as everyone on the internet.

Brian Carriveau's picture

Perhaps, but they will be if either Jermichael Finley or Morgan Burnett were to suffer an injury.

packsmack25's picture

You can't build an injury-proof roster though. I think the TEs and safeties are in about as good of shape as they were in the Super Bowl season heading in, and they had injuries at both positions that year. You might be right, they might not like the group they have, but their moves/actions sure haven't shown it.

DraftHobbyist's picture

I think the Packers like Jennings a lot more than most people. If Burnett gets hurt I think they are comfortable with Jennings and McMillian. Is it ideal? No. But can it be a serviceable combo? I think the Packers would say yes.

ben's picture

can we get rid of md Jennings yet?

What is he doing still running with the ones? WOW

I miss Sean Richardson, can I get an update?

Brian Carriveau's picture

For as nondescript as Jennings has been, McMillian has been worse this preseason. The Packers obviously are just hesitant to clear Richardson. There's no update to give.

Lou's picture

Agreed with your analysis on the safety battle. The bright side is that both players are an upgrade compared to Bigby and Peprah and with a better pass rush the entire secondary will look a lot better.

ben's picture

Told you Evan,

QB: Rodgers, Harrell
RB: Harris, Lacey, Green, Franklin, Kuhn
WR: Cobb, Nelson, Jones, Boykins, walker
TE: Finley, Mulligan, Quarless, bostick, stoneburner
T: Bakhtiari, Barclay, Newhouse, Datko
G: Sitton, Lang, Taylor
C: EDS, Von Roten
S: Burnett, Hyde, McMillian, bush
CB: House, Shields, Heyward, Tramon
OLB: Matthews, Perry, Moses, mulumba
ILB Hawk, Brad, francois, barrington
DL: Datone, Jolly, Neal, Danials, Raji, Pickett, boyd
ST: crosby, goode, masthay, & a kick returner

Practice squad: coleman, banjo, white, palmer, johnson, lewis, pease

DJ williams traded to the ravens for Kick return prospect, Hopefully with md jennings.

PUP: Sharrod & Richardson

Evan's picture

Ha! You told me nothing. 50% of your projected safeties are still cornerbacks. Despite what you wish to see or what Brian predicts might happen when all the other CBs get healthy (who knows when Williams will come back), Hyde is a CB with zero experience at safety at the pro level. But, sure, let's just go ahead and waive all our true safeties and start Hyde.

DraftHobbyist's picture

DJ Williams won't get traded. If we don't want him when our roster is weak at the position then why would another team want to give up something for him?

Evan's picture

Shhhh...you're being short-sighted.

Bears Love Cheddar Biscuits's picture

Re: my previous comment under Packers offense in mid-season form. You are a pie eyed optimist if you think DJ Williams has ANY trade value. He's 6'2, 245, with nine receptions in a three year career. Read: He's undersized for the position and not very good to boot. I'd rather have Visanthe Shiancoe and he's a dinosaur.

PackerBacker's picture

It was said the last time you posted this list. There is NO WAY they keep 9 offensive linemen on the 53. Datko or Taylor won't make it.

Phatgzus's picture

Or neither, Taylor for his part looked pretty overwhelmed vs. the Rams, I can remember him committing at least 2 major penalties.

L's picture

QB: Rodgers, Young
RB: Lacy, Harris, Green, Franklin, Kuhn?
WR: Jones, Cobb, Nelson, Boykins, Ross?
TE: Finley, Mulligan, Quarless, Williams
OL: EDS, GVR, Bakhtiari, Barclay, Newhouse, Sitton, Lang, Taylor
DL: Raji, Pickett, D.Jones, Jolly, Neal, Daniels, Wilson
OLB: Matthews, Perry, Moses, Mulumba
ILB: Hawk, B.Jones, Francois, Lattimore, Manning, Barrington
CB: Williams, Shields, Heyward, House, Hyde, Bush
S: Burnett, McMillian, Jennings
K: _______
P: Masthay
LS: Goode

PUP: Sherrod

IR: Tretter, Worthy

PS: Coleman, Boyd, Datko, Walker, White, Johnson, Bostick, and Banjo. Other considerations might be Palmer, Dorsey, Savage, Means, Stoneburner, and Amosa.

There will be attempts to move/trade Starks for something in return, perhaps a better return specialist in order to replace Ross.

buckyor's picture

I don't know that Hyde is as slow as some seem to think. I saw him run down Venric Mark from behind last year on a 70+ yard run, and Mark is not exactly slow.

I still think he's more a safety, but he could probably be successful at either.

DraftHobbyist's picture

He had a 4.52 40, so a little slow. If Hyde was that fast would the play have gone for 70+ yards? Venric Mark may have just gotten tired.

buckyor's picture

Here's the clip, you tell me:

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=8557887

Evan's picture

Looks to my untrained eye that Hyde was maintaining outside containment and was not in a position to make the stop at the line - which is to say his (lack of) speed had nothing to do with the play going for big yards. Or maybe he was just out of position due to lack of experience/instincts at safety. Either way, good effort to catch him from behind.

DraftHobbyist's picture

They were about the same speed until Mark ran about 40 yards. Mark's probably a high 4.4-low 4.5 guy as well. Watching that clip he's definitely not a burner. 4.52 seems about right for Hyde, though, and he did get beat deep in the preseason.

Evan's picture

Yep. Combine was 4.42 for him. 4.52 for Hyde.

Phatgzus's picture

Just to play the Devil's Avocado, combine speed does not equate to game speed.

Stroh's picture

It seemed to when Hyde got beat on that 57 yd play last week. If Hyde ran 4.45 he makes a play on that ball and knocks it away.

PackerBacker's picture

Stroh, if he was supposed to get safety help over the top, that's not his fault for getting beat. At least he brought him down after the catch. Not a shining moment, but we don't know for sure that it was 100% his fault either.

Phatgzus's picture

As PackerBacker said, he was supposed to have safety help over the top-McMillain admitted as much and I doubt he'd lie to cover for a rookie who's almost guaranteed to make the team when he is losing his own battle to be a starter. Also, Chris Givens is a FAST man.

The TKstinator's picture

Know what else I like about that clip? The very deliberate 'swat' at the ball during the tackle.

ben's picture

Who said House is overrated? ....the hell you say

I always thought house could try to make the move to safety much like I thought Al Harris maybe should rather than charles. Better size, All very good tacklers.

(but i'll stick with my prediction of house being a top 15 corner in the league by the end of the year)

Fish . Crane's picture

give me 4.5 and football instinct over 4.4 wth am I doing. (watch his highlights- he made one of the smartest and hard working int's I have ever seen)

You'll know it when you see it.

The TKstinator's picture

Here's a TT-ism: Hyde is a GOOD FOOTBALL PLAYER and the staff will sort it out and coach him up!

Xuyee's picture

Let's see:
1) Always around the ball
2) Willing tackler
3) Aggressive blitzer out of the slot
4) Routinely gets beat deep in coverage

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Charles Woodson circa 2010. Once he learns to compensate for #4 by holding receivers on every play, the circle will be complete :)

Evan's picture

Haha. As Mojo said above, he already has been doing his fair share of grabbing and holding.

The kid is a fast study.

Point Packer's picture

I have absolutely no problem with physical cheaters on the outside.

PackerBacker's picture

As long as they're wearing Green and Gold.

hump's picture

brian,nice job on this one! Hyde is a safety and a goodone he will be. coverage is soso for a corner but far better than any safety we have including burnett. he hits,he blitzes and goes directly at ball carrier,unlike jennings, who runs at a 45 degree alongside the ball carrier and than gets dragged another 6or7 yds when he does finally make contact!! easy to see on film,hyde will be a safety. tramon..shields..hayward..morgan and hyde. not a bad sounding fivesome and house as a 6th

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