1 Vs 1 RB Edition: Isaiah Crowell Vs Carlos Hyde
In this series I'm going to compare two similarly ranked and drafted running backs putting them up against each other, and comparing them in a variety of categories such as 2016 stats, quality of offensive line, draft pedigree, age, combine results, measurables, teams time of possession, percentage of rushing attempts, snaps played, PFF grades, and depth chart competition. In an attempt to determine which of the two players will be the superior dynasty asset. In this edition I'm going to compare two very polarizing runningbacks on weaker teams who never seem to get the credit they deserve in Isaiah Crowell and Carlos Hyde. They had very different off season's to say the least, Hyde was the subject of negative reports the entire off season. From the new management and coaching staff not endorsing him when given the chance, to every beat writer in the Bay area anointing Joe Williams the new starting runningback for San Francisco within seconds of him being drafted, and it had gone as far as rumours surfacing that he may even be cut. On the other hand Crowell was a steady riser in ADP all off season due to positive reports regarding his usage in the upcoming season, and no competition for touches being added via free agency or the draft.
Crowell and Hyde had very similar 2016 seasons, despite playing on teams that combined for only 3 wins between them, they still managed to put up very respectable stat lines. Crowell rushed 198 times for 952 yards and 7 touchdowns, averaging 4.8 yards per carry, adding 40 receptions for 319 yards for an 8.0 yards per reception average. Crowell didn't have any receiving touchdowns but did out target the so called pass catching back Duke Johnson, 34 targets to 27 targets in the 2nd half of the season. Making him a true three down back over that stretch. Hyde rushed 217 times for 988 yards and 6 touchdowns averaging 4.6 yards per carry, adding 27 receptions for 163 yards and 3 touchdowns averaging 6.0 yards per reception, in only 13 games last season. Crowell was PFF's 27th ranked runningback with a grade of 74.4, Hyde wasn't far behind finishing at the 31st overall among runningbacks with a 73.2 grade. I have Crowell as my 18th ranked runningback and Hyde as my 16th, regardless of the close rankings the Browns should be an improved team in 2017 and chances are the 49ers are drafting in the top 5 next season, which means Crowell should be playing more often from a positive game script than Hyde will be. Advantage: Hyde
A big part of running back success is tied to the quality of a teams offensive line, as we have seen time and time again a mid level running back with a top tier offensive line can have comparable stats with a much better running back with a questionable offensive line. Crowell has a significant advantage when it comes to offensive lines, in 2016 Cleveland graded out as the 16th overall offensive line, and was projected to be the 2nd best offensive line coming into the 2017 season. San Francisco had the 28th graded offensive line last year and was only projected to move up one spot in 2017. Cleveland possessed the ball on average 27:32 per game last season, and rushed on 35.6% of offensive plays, almost always playing from a negative game script being forced to abandoned the run in the second half of games. The 49ers possessed the ball a league worst 26:47 per game but managed to rush on an astounding 45.9% of offensive plays last season despite only winning two games, this number was skewed as a result of Colin Kaepernick's significant amount of rushing attempts and the fact that San Francisco played less than 1000 plays on offense last season. Advantage: Crowell
When it comes to age, measurables, combine results, and draft pedigree, there are some glaring differences between the two of them. Crowell is over two years younger than Hyde as he will play this season as a 24 year old, whereas Hyde turned 26 in September. As far as size goes, Hyde is the bigger of the two runningbacks, he is listed as 6'0, 235 pounds, to Crowell's 5'11, 225 pounds, they both have prototypical bell cow back frames and show good lateral ability for their size. Crowell came out ahead in all combine categories, he ran a 4.57 40, had a 117” broad jump, and put up an impressive 38” vertical. Hyde ran a 4.66 40, jumped 114” in the broad jump, and had a 34.5” vertical. These two had much different paths to the NFL as Hyde was selected with the 25th pick of the 2nd round, 57th overall in 2014, after a successful and well decorated college career at his hometown THE Ohio State. Crowell's journey to the NFL was a rocky one to say the least, in 2012 Crowell was arrested on possession of a weapon in a school zone, possession of a firearm with an altered identification, and carrying a concealed firearm. Crowell was dismissed from the University of Georgia football team due to his arrest and his constant disciplinary problems, including failing a drug test. These many screw ups throughout college lead to him going undrafted in the 2014 NFL draft and being signed as an undrafted free agent. Despite the knucklehead factor being high coming out of college, other than a ridiculously stupid comment last off season regarding violence against police officers, he has essentially kept his nose clean. Advantage: Crowell
Both players played a similar amount of snaps in 2016, with Crowell playing 568 snaps, 104 of which he was required to pass protect, although his pass protection grade was terrible at 35.5. Hyde played 535 snaps in 13 games last season, only 43 of which were in pass protection, he was given a 59.6 pass blocking grade from PFF. Crowell doesn't have much competition for touches on the depth chart, with essentially only Duke Johnson being a threat to take a few touches away, but with Crowell out targeting Duke in the second half of last season and Johnson being used out of the slot early in training camp, it's definitely possible that Crowell will be used as a true three down back this year. With Johnson being used out of the slot it's possible that 2017, 7th round draft pick Matt Dayes may see some third down work. Hyde has a somewhat crowded depth chart to contend with, Kapri Bibbs was acquired in a draft day trade, Joe Williams was added in the 4th round of the draft, and camp star Matt Breida was signed as an undrafted free agent. It's hard to imagine a situation where Hyde doesn't dominate touches in that backfield, but stranger things have happened. Advantage: Hyde
In this runningback comparison it was a a very tight battle, I do like both of these runningbacks a lot but the best thing that could happen to them both would be getting out of San Francisco and Cleveland and never looking back. They are very talented players who could be the lead back for countless teams in the NFL, fingers crossed they end up somewhere next year that will allow them to excel. Although the 49ers may have finally solved their ongoing quarterback issue in aquiring Jimmy Garolpollo from the Patriots. Winner: Carlos Hyde