Bradley Roby might be the most impressive athlete at the cornerback position in the 2014 draft class, and after a disappointing season at Ohio State, he desperately needs to put on a show at the combine.
Before the 2013 season, Roby was widely considered the top corner in college football.
After he recorded 63 tackles, two interceptions, on pick-six and one sack, and was named a Second-Team All-American by the Associated Press, that made sense.
In 2011, he made 47 tackles, snagged three interceptions and forced a fumble.
Roby started in 37 games over his three-year career with the Buckeyes.
Hurt by Going Back to School
Oddly enough, Roby, who redshirted as a freshman in 2010, decided to stay in school for his junior season, and although his statistics improved in key areas, his draft stock didn't.
CBS Sports draft analyst Dane Brugler snagged a quote from an NFL scout about Roby before Ohio State's first game this past fall: "Roby, the corner out of Ohio State is 'as advertised' and a future NFL star."
Another scout told Brugler, "Roby has swivel hips and the lower body explosion that you want at the position, but I do have questions about his anticipation. Nonetheless, he's going high."
On Wednesday, Aug. 21, a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge that stemmed from an altercation at an Indiana bar, against Roby was dismissed, per the The Columbus Dispatch.
Though the ruling was a positive development for Roby, being involved in a bar fight wasn't.
Head coach Urban Meyer suspended him for the season-opening game against the University at Buffalo.
Despite missing the first game, Roby's finished with the final stat line—69 tackles, three interceptions with one pick-six and 13 passes defensed.
Here's what NFL.com's Bucky Brooks wrote about the Buckeye's star cornerback during the 2013 campaign:
He has delivered a so-so junior campaign that has put his draft status in question. Talking to some scouts about Roby's play this season, I've been told that some evaluators believe he has played with a bit of "buyer's remorse" after electing to return to Ohio State for another season.
An AFC North scout told me that he believed Roby really wanted to enter the draft after last season, but his family insisted on another season to push him closer to his degree. While Roby eventually agreed to return, he hasn't fully exerted himself on the field and the "cruising" makes it hard to determine his immediate upside.
Check this tweet from Kevin Weidl of Scouts' Inc:
No question Bradley Roby is physically gifted. But has gambled too much and lacks eye discipline at times. NW hit him for a few big plays.— Kevin Weidl (@KevinW_ESPN) November 27, 2013
Probably the low point of Roby's season came against the Wisconsin Badgers and future NFL wideout Jared Abbrederis on Sept. 28 in Columbus.
Though the Buckeyes won the game, the 6'2'', 190-pound receiver, whom Roby covered for basically the entire game, caught 10 passes for 207 yards with one touchdown.
After a productive yet not overly impressive year, some well-respected draft analysts have placed other cornerbacks ahead of Roby in their positional rankings:
It'll be interesting where Roby's is ultimately drafted. He very well could fall into the second or third round after being widely considered a first-round prospect just a year ago.
If he does go on Day 2, he very well could represent great "value" as a first-round-caliber player who simply had a less-than-stellar final collegiate season.
What Scouts Will Look for at the Combine
Roby needs to run fast. Incredibly fast. He was a track star in high school, and his Rivals.com recruiting profile lists his 40-yard dash time at 4.34.
He showcased his tremendous speed on a handful of occasions at Ohio State.
|Bradley Roby Positional Draft Rankings|
|Ranker / Site||CB Rank|
|Matt Miller / Bleacher Report||4|
|Dane Brugler / CBS Sports||5|
|Matthew Fairburn / SB Nation||3|
|Walter Cherepinsky / Walter Football||6|
|Eric Galko / Optimum Scouting||5|
Listed at 5'11" and 194 pounds, Roby certainly wouldn't be categorized as "undersized" for the cornerback spot. If he can couple his adequate size with a blistering 40 time, it'll help to boost this stock, or at least stop the slide.
Roby doesn't necessarily have to clock the fastest 40 time to make an impression. But with his track background, he better be among the top performers in that hyped drill.
Also, when it comes to cornerbacks, scouts want to see "fluid hips" in the on-field agility and backpedaling drills. Roby will likely be expected to transition his weight and direction without much stiffness at all.