The 2016-17 free agent cornerback class is loaded (read more about the cornerback free agent class as a whole here). High end talent in this year’s class includes A.J. Bouye, Morris Claiborne, Trumaine Johnson and Stephon Gilmore. Looking further down the list of free agent corners, NFL teams can still find strong options in Logan Ryan and Ross Cockrell. But for a team like the Ravens who will be looking for a bargain on the free agent market, look no further than the Green Bay Packers’ Micah Hyde.
The 2013 fifth round pick is not a top player at his position, but the former Iowa Hawkeye is one of the most well rounded secondary players in the NFL. Hyde is not elite at any one thing, but he is good at everything. Hyde can player cornerback, he can play safety, he can cover big time receivers, he can defend against the run, he can rush the passer and he can return punts.
According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Hyde led all cornerbacks in pass rushing snaps with 42, recording two sacks (one in the regular season and one in the playoffs). Hyde finished the 2016-17 season with a 74.7 coverage grade, higher than that of Stephon Gilmore. In the 2016-17 season, Hyde totaled 12 total passes defended (nine in the regular season, three in the playoffs). In addition, Hyde earned a 77.1 grade against the run, a top 25 mark in the league among all cornerbacks. Finally, Hyde is one of the more reliable corners in the league, finishing in the top 25 for total snaps for cornerbacks (985 snaps). Hyde’s PFF grades are all relatively close to each other. None of the grades are exceptionally high, but Hyde’s grades are all good, further proving how well rounded of a corner he is.
In the 2016-17 season, Hyde recorded four total interceptions (three in the regular season, and the fourth in the playoffs). Hyde’s playoff interception came in the Packers’ Divisional Round win over the Dallas Cowboys. Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott looked to throw a screen pass to Cole Beasley, while Dez Bryant was supposed to block Hyde. However, Hyde is able to anticipate the play, beat Bryant, and make the interception. Watch below as Hyde makes the play:
On this play, Hyde shows off his field awareness and anticipation, a key skill for NFL cornerbacks. The Ravens will be looking for an instinctual corner like Hyde to add to the roster.
In Week 17, Hyde showed more than just anticipation as he is able to make a great play on the ball by basically boxing out Golden Tate. Hyde shows off coverage skills on this play, as well as ball skills, as he know the exact right place to be at the right time. In addition, as this interception in essence won the NFC North for the Packers, Hyde proves that he, unlike many Ravens from the heart-wrenching 2016-17 season, shows up in the big moments late in games. Watch the play below:
Hyde’s football smarts appear again against the Cowboys, as he is able to anticipate Prescott moving up in the pocket before the rookie quarterback actually does so. Hyde is thus able to quickly shake his blocker (Jason Witten), and meet Prescott as he moves forward. Check out the play below:
As FOX’s Joe Buck said in the last video, Hyde played both inside and outside corner for the Packers as well as safety. His versatility is a trait that the Ravens can take advantage of. He truly can do it all, not just defending against the run and the pass, but playing many different positions on different parts of the field.
As a returner, Hyde has three career touchdowns: one in 2013 and two in 2014. Hyde would be a welcomed addition to the competition to return punts and/or kicks.
Hyde is a player the Ravens must take a look at this summer, as he could prove to be a steal. At just 26 years old, Hyde is just entering the prime years of his athletic career. As such a well rounded corner that will come at a low cost, the Ravens truly have a chance to add a player to help out the secondary, and return game from day one, and for many seasons to come.