Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State (Height: 5’11¼”; Weight: 194 lbs)
First Round: 31st Pick
NFL Comparison: Lardarius Webb, CB, Baltimore Ravens
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+ Above-average size and strong frame for an NFL cornerback
+ Elite athlete who doesn’t just possess great speed
+ Ranked as the top press-man corner in my burn-percentage rankings
+ Bounced back from a rough start in 2013 to be a lockdown cornerback
+ Good ball skills that lead to game-changing plays
+ Big hitter who causes drops and fumbles
+ Was able to shut down highly regarded Penn State receiver Allen Robinson and Indiana receiver Cody Latimer
- Lacks consistent eye discipline in zone coverage
- Poor tackling efficiency due to tackling form
- Tends to rely on athleticism instead of solid technique
- Needs to overcome off-the-field concerns
- Has a relatively low floor to go with his high potential
Roby is an excellent athlete, possessing elite physical traits in nearly every category possible. He isn’t just a linear runner, as he has impressive lateral agility and fluid hips. His closing burst and acceleration are tremendous and force accurate and timely passes. He’s has a great vertical leap that allows him to compete with much taller receivers.
Roby has multiple dings on his off-the-field record. On April 20, 2014, he was cited for operating a vehicle impaired but later pleaded guilty on a lesser charge. On July 21, 2013, Roby was arrested for a Class-A misdemeanor for assault, although evidence later proved his innocence. Former head coach Urban Meyer never seemed to fully support Roby, hinting that his work ethic wasn’t up to par.
At Ohio State, Roby spent time playing in a vanilla Cover 4 zone and press-man coverage, often with little safety help. In 2012, Roby gained experience in Cover 3 and was considered a shutdown cornerback.
Due to a major injury in the Buckeyes secondary early in the season, the defensive backfield suffered from mistakes by inexperienced players and a scheme that didn’t fit personnel, putting immense pressure on the veteran defensive backs.
Roby has good ball skills when he’s playing Cover 3 zone or catch-man coverages because he reads the eyes of the quarterback well. He closes quickly on the ball and has great hands. When running downfield with receivers, he does well to look back for the ball and usually locates it. He can improve at looking back for the ball to avoid giving up chunk plays and drawing penalties.
Against the Run/Tackling
Despite playing with great aggressiveness against the run, Roby can be reckless with his tackling form. Too often he lunges at the ball-carrier and doesn’t wrap up tackles. In the open field, Roby is able to make impact hits that force dropped passes and fumbles. His gap integrity is good, and he forces ball-carriers into the arms of teammates.
Roby uses his great athleticism to mirror receivers very well throughout the entire route tree. His backpedal is swift and smooth, allowing him to flip his hips fluidly and break toward the ball with ease.
Downfield, Roby can get desperate and grabby, but the majority of the time he plays confidently and under control. He needs to get more consistent and technically sound, as his confidence tends to affect how he performs throughout the game.
Roby had a great 2012 season when he played in a Cover 3 zone scheme that allowed him to play close to the line of scrimmage and react to the ball. He struggled in 2013 when he was in a soft, basic version of Cover 4 because the defense had him lined up about 10 yards off the receiver to start the play.
Roby doesn’t recognize routes well enough to be a high-quality zone player at this time in his career, but a more aggressive defense that forces quick throws would compliment his skill set well.
Being an elite athlete, Roby doesn’t always have clean technical play. He shows good press ability and understands how to win at the line of scrimmage, using a good initial punch and making contact again when downfield after looking back to the ball. Roby can struggle on intermediate routes when defending great route-runners, but it isn’t a major weakness since that can be cleaned up.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
Bradley Roby projects as a high-quality starter for an aggressive scheme that plays mostly man coverages, whether it be press or off-man. Due to his physical traits, Roby can develop into a big-play cornerback in a zone scheme after he learns and develops his skills.
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