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Hawks in the NFL: Three former Hawkeyes look to make the leap in Green Bay

BY CHARLES GREEN | JULY 30, 2014 5:00 AM

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Micah Hyde enters second season in coaches’ favor

More than a year ago, the Green Bay Packers selected Micah Hyde in the fifth-round of the NFL draft — hoping for him to be a valuable special-teams player who could occasional play in special defensive packages.

Hyde exceeded expectations, playing in all 16 games as a rookie and returning a punt for a touchdown.

Hyde played a lot of cornerback last season for the Packers, who battled injuries at the position all year round. He showed a knack for being around the ball and making plays at the line of scrimmage, but at times, he was exposed in coverage.

This prompted the Packers to consider another position for the former Hawkeye.

Entering training camp, the Packers are healthy and deep at cornerback, which means Hyde will get a shot at safety — a position thought to be more fitting of his skills. The Fostoria, Ohio, native played both safety and corner during his time in Iowa City.

Even though the team selected safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix out of Alabama in the first round of this year’s draft, don’t be surprised if Hyde is the starter when the regular season rolls around.

On July 28, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that Hyde has the early edge over Clinton-Dix because of the former’s experience in the Packer’s complicated defensive scheme.

Even if Hyde fails to win the starting job alongside Morgan Burnett, the Packers will count on his versatility as a defensive back. Depth is valuable in today’s NFL, and Hyde, at the very least, will provide just that.

Mike Daniels a breakout candidate for 2014

Last year, Daniels began to emerge as a constant on the Packer’s defensive line. Although he made just one start, Daniels played in every game and recorded 6.5 sacks as a defensive end in the team’s 3-4 defensive scheme.

Daniels was thought by scouts to be undersized coming out of Iowa, and he was also coming off a torn labrum. For these reasons, he was overlooked in the 2012 draft.

Teams that passed on him may soon regret it.

At 6-foot, Daniels is shorter than the prototypical down lineman in the NFL. But his strength and high motor give him an edge in leverage; last season, he showed the ability to push blockers back and disrupt the quarterback’s pocket.

This season he will likely start on a defense that includes Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews.

Look for Daniels to become a well-known player in the NFL this year. His presence up front could be what the Packers need to improve on what has been a dreadful unit the past few years.

Packers will need Bulaga healthy to protect Aaron Rodgers

Bryan Bulaga will enter his fifth season with Green Bay, after being selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft.

When on the field, he has been consistent and has shown the potential to be one of the league’s best tackles.

Last season, the Packers suffered a huge blow when Bulaga tore his ACL in a scrimmage before the season. Barring another injury, Bulaga will be a key player for the Packers in 2014.

Rodgers is as valuable of a player as it gets in the NFL. Last season when Rodgers was injured, the Packers went just 2-4-1. Protecting him will be of the utmost importance for the team this season, and Bulaga is an essential part of those plans.

If he stays healthy and continues to play well, Bulaga could emerge as one the league’s best tackles and earn himself a nice contract extension from the Packers.


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