Sometimes the most interesting prospects are those who get lost in the shuffle due to issues off the field. Isaiah Crowell was a good example of that last season with Cleveland. Plus, if you look at the trends of good running backs going undrafted (Branden Oliver last season and Arian Foster in 2009) or late in the draft (Alfred Morris, Alfred Blue, Andre Williams) you'll find there's always fantasy value to be found in nearly every round of the draft. So you can't sleep on anybody. Let's take a look at a running back who may end up fitting all that criteria listed above and analyze how his skills could translate to the next level. That running back is Louisville product and former Auburn running back Michael Dyer.
An undisclosed violation of team rules led him to being kicked off the Auburn Tigers in 2011, but Dyer left a mark while he was there. Dyer rushed for 1,093 yards on 182 carries and five touchdowns as a freshman in 2010 and helped the Auburn Tigers to a National Championship victory over the Oregon Ducks that same year. In that game, Dyer rushed for 143 yards on 22 carries and was named the offensive player of the game.
Most of the draftniks out there have already shelved Dyer because of his off field issues. After leaving Auburn immediately following a sophomore season where he rushed for 1,242 yards and 10 touchdowns, Dyer went off to Arkansas State. But off the field troubles reared their ugly head again, as Dyer was eventually kicked off the team in 2012 after a traffic stop lead to police finding a gun and marijuana in his car. Charges weren't filed at the time of the stop, but newspapers later dug deeper and found information that the officer never charged Dyer.
Dyer's next stop was Louisville in 2013. Then a junior, Dyer struggled with injuries and started one game while appearing in eight. While none of the games were really notable and his 44 carries were a small sample size for the season, Dyer posted a respectable 5.1 yards per carry average and finished with 223 total rushing yards.
His senior season was a bit more memorable. In 2014, he finished with 481 yards and 5 touchdowns on 4.4 yards per carry. Dyer showed very little in the receiving game, with just eight total catches across four seasons.
While Dyer was never arrested for anything, you have to admit his reputation as he enters the professional ranks is dubious at best.
His make up
Dyer's a bit undersized at 5'9 but can pack a punch at 219 lbs and possesses decent straight line speed with a 4.58 40 time. When he gets a step in the open field, he can outrun most linebackers but will likely get chased down by defensive backs at times. His main strength is his power. He set combine marks in the bench press with 26 reps, and when he gets running down hill after his linemen open up a huge hole, he can look scary to tackle. His power and small size also allows him to keep a low center of gravity and not get jacked backwards by bigger defenders. It was actually very difficult to find film of him while at Auburn, and the only video I could find was this 2014 Draft Breakdown video against Clemson. This was from Dyer's best season as a sophomore. He ended up rushing for 151 yards on 16 carries (9.2 ypc) and two touchdowns in this game. His biggest gains came on this stretch play where he ran to the right side. Click the play button the video below to see Dyer at his best. Watch the first play of the clip where Dyer scores a touchdown and see the analysis below.
Dyer gets a lot of great blocking in this game from his line on this play which led to a 50+ yard touchdown. Dyer nearly took it to the house again the second time Auburn ran the exact same play later on Watching the clip on both times Auburn runs the play, Dyer shows great patience and allows his blocks to set up before he decisively hits the hole. There's no slowing down once he gets to the second level, and in the first clip you'll notice the Clemson safety take a bad angle and ends up watching Dyer blow right by him for the touchdown. He doesn't make that same mistake again on the next try and tackles Dyer after what ended up still being a big gain.
Dyer is not the most agile back. His cuts are slow and deliberate, which makes you wonder if the speed of the NFL game will lead to him getting swallowed up by quicker defenders due to his below average acceleration through the hole. You'll see an example of his inability to make guys miss in this clip here.
Notice how he tries unsuccessfully to shake the defenders with his juke. He lacks the explosiveness to make cuts on a dime which will likely keep him from stringing together big gains between the tackles. He clearly wants to shed the tacklers, but lacks the physical tools to do so effectively. Once he's bottled up, there's not much of a chance he'll be able to create space with his maneuverability.
Lack of versatility
We're not saying Dyer can't catch at the pro level, there's just no evidence he can do it at the college level. You'd be hard-pressed to find a clip of him catching the ball and with an increased demand on running backs to be reliable receivers out of the backfield at the NFL level, you have to doubt many teams will be willing to take that chance when there are so many talented running backs in this class.
Dyer's straight line speed, intelligence and power is intriguing. If he can get the right opportunity with the right team, there's a chance he can make an impact. He's a good late dynasty pickup at the tail end of your draft.