When Carlos Hyde crossed the finish line following his first—and only—40-yard dash at the NFL combine, he gritted his teeth and looked up to the ceiling of Lucas Oil Stadium. He was in pain. Some of it was physical; the former Ohio State tailback had pulled his left hamstring. But much of the anguish was mental. The hamstring had been bothering him for a week, so Hyde had debated whether he should even sprint for scouts in Indianapolis. "I probably shouldn't have run, but I wanted to compete," Hyde says. "I wanted to prove something to myself, and I got caught up in the moment."
The result was a 4.66 40, nearly two-tenths of a second slower than the 6-foot, 230-pound Hyde had hoped to run. "I was devastated," he says. Though NFL coaches and personnel officials don't base draft decisions entirely on 40 times, Hyde knew his sprint performance wouldn't help him in his quest to be the first back taken in the draft. Though Hyde averaged 7.3 yards per carry for the Buckeyes in 2013 and played his best in Ohio State's biggest games, his relatively slow 40 time could push him behind Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey or Auburn's Tre Mason on many draft boards. It's possible that no team will select a back in the first round this year, but Hyde had still hoped to be the first among the position—whenever that is.
After his hamstring recovered, Hyde went back to work to prove to NFL teams that he could run faster than he had in Indianapolis. He concentrated on drills that would improve his start in the 40 and agility exercises to prepare him to perform the three-cone and shuttle sprints his hamstring injury had forced him to miss at the combine. Two weeks ago Hyde worked out privately for several NFL teams. He says he ran the 40 in "the mid 4.5s" and calls his agility performance "phenomenal."
To see if NFL teams agree with Hyde's self-evaluation, we'll have to wait until the draft, in May. Until then, though, Hyde's training is worth a closer look.
PRESENTED BY EAS SPORTS NUTRITION
The result was a 4.66 40, nearly two-tenths of a second slower than he had hoped. "I was devastated," Hyde says.
BOB CROSLIN FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
Running Man After leading Ohio State with 1,521 yards in 2013, Hyde hopes to be the first back picked.