Most draftniks considered Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby a first-round lock entering the 2013 season. However, after a junior year that was a disappointment by just about every objective measure, Roby had a lot on the line heading into the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine.
Well, now Roby's draft stock is back on the rise. The Buckeyes star tore up the track at Lucas Oil Stadium.
|Bench||40 Time||Vert.||Broad||20 Shuttle||3-Cone|
Roby took to the field Tuesday for drills, and as Josh Norris of Rotoworld tweeted, it didn't take long for the 5'11", 194-pounder to turn some heads in Indy:
Bradley Roby first "unofficial" forty: 4.40. 10 yd of 1.47— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) February 25, 2014
Roby's official time was even better, at 4.39 seconds. That ranked fourth among the defensive backs and was the seventh-fastest 40 time turned in by any player in Indy.
As Dan Hope of Bleacher Report points out, it was only the beginning of a very good day for the Buckeyes star:
Good day for Bradley Roby. 4th among DBs in 40 (4.39), T-6th in vert (38.5"), T-11th in broad (10'4"), most fluid DB in his group's drills.— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) February 25, 2014
Roby's 40 wasn't the fastest (Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State, widely considered this year's top corner, ran a blistering 4.37), but it was just the sort of rock-solid all-around performance that Roby badly needed.
Of course, it's more than a little distressing that such a performance was necessary.
Had Roby declared for the NFL draft after a 2012 season in which he logged 62 tackles and two interceptions en route to being named an All-American, there's next to zero doubt he'd have been a first-round pick.
But Roby returned to Columbus for his junior season, and while his statistical output improved, his level of play did not.
Far too often in 2013, Roby was beaten on double-moves or caught out of position. Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis' 10-catch, 207-yard explosion against Ohio State in September became the poster game for a lost season.
It wasn't the only game where Roby looked ordinary. Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Matt Miller tweeted back in November that this fate was not uncommon among highly touted young cornerbacks:
Bradley Roby having a David Amerson-like 2013. Two years in a row where preseason top CB has really struggled.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) November 16, 2013
It left Roby with a more than a few questions to answer in Indianapolis. According to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, Roby addressed his apparent lapses in concentration last year while speaking to reporters at the combine:
CB Bradley Roby admitted his mindset entering the 2013 season "wasn’t where it should have been" and that carried over to the season— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) February 23, 2014
With that said, Hope passed along word that last year's struggles don't appear to have hurt Roby's confidence:
OSU CB Bradley Roby compared himself to Joe Haden, Darrelle Revis, Tim Jennings in interview with http://t.co/GHvdFPjhrx. Always confident.— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) February 25, 2014
Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated repeated that refrain, reporting that when asked if he felt he could be a shutdown cornerback at the NFL level, Roby answered, "Yes, definitely."
At the end of the day, this showing at the combine isn't going to erase 2013's struggles any more than they erased the solid season that came in 2012. In fact, those mental lapses should give an NFL team considering using a first-round pick on Roby pause.
With that said, concentration would (in theory, at least) seem improvable with maturity and coaching.
However, 4.4 speed and the ability to turn from backpedal to sprint on a dime? Those you either have or you don't, and they come in handy for an NFL cornerback.
Cornerbacks in the NFL draft are as speculative as they are valuable. A handful go on the draft's first day more often than not. Usually, those youngsters struggle early. (Cue all four cornerbacks drafted in the first round a year ago nodding solemnly, as a lone tear rolls down Dee Milliner's face.)
Is Bradley Roby worthy of a first-round pick?
Most of the time, it's a matter of an NFL team deciding the not-insubstantial risks are worth the potential reward, that the coaching staff can buff out the dents and bring out the shine in the team's new defensive speedster.
After showing what's under the hood on Tuesday, Bradley Roby displayed enough shine to run himself right back into first-round consideration.
If he gets squared away between his ears, the team rolling those dice in May will be glad they did.