Remember when the Cincinnati Bengals passed on Ohio State star Carlos Hyde to draft Jeremy Hill out of LSU instead?
It happened four years ago, and it is worth revisiting with news of Hyde planning to sign with the Cleveland Browns this week.
Was it the right move or not?
Let’s review how their careers have gone so far:
Hill made a big splash early in Cincinnati.
He ran for 1,124 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie in 2014 despite starting only half of the games that season. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry.
Since then, though, things have not gone so well. Over the last three seasons, Hill has 1,749 yards, and he has failed to average even four yards per carry in any of those campaigns.
He did the Ickey Shuffle, which was cool, but he also lost a crucial fumble that set off a series of events that led to a devastating loss in the playoffs to Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, Hyde’s career has followed nearly the opposite arc.
The Cincinnati native ran for only 333 yards as a rookie and 470 in his second season in the NFL while struggling to stay healthy.
The past two seasons, Hyde has looked more like a valuable pro running back, totaling 1,926 yards in 29 games.
So while one of them looked like a big-time NFL back early in his career, the other has been better lately.
What about the picture in full?
Through four years Hyde has put up better numbers despite playing for a much worse team.
Hyde: 54.6 yards per game, 4.2 yards per carry, 21 touchdowns, 109 catches, 634 yards, 3 touchdowns, 3,363 yards from scrimmage.
Hill: 53.2 yards per game, 4.1 yards per carry, 29 rushing touchdowns, 67 catches, 484 yards, 1 touchdown, 3,357 yards from scrimmage.
Hill finished last season in Injured Reserve and is still looking for work while Hyde is set to sign a new contract on the first day of free agency.
So it looks like, yes, the Bengals should have gone with the higher-rated prospect who also happened to have played 90 minutes up the road instead of dipping into the SEC talent pool again, and not just because it might have appealed to a few free agent fans in the center of the state.
But now they figure to get a closer look at him twice a year for the next three seasons anyway.
On the bright side, Cincinnati already seems to have found its running back of the future in Joe Mixon.
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