Bradley Roby to Broncos: How Does CB Fit with Denver?

Cecil LammeyContributor IMay 9, 2014

Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby poses with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Denver Broncos as the 31st pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Thursday, May 8, 2014, in New York.  (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Craig Ruttle/Associated Press

The 31st overall pick was a bit of a surprise for some, as the Denver Broncos selected cornerback Bradley Roby from Ohio State.

The “shock factor” came from the fact that general manager John Elway usually stays away from players who have character concerns. Roby had a bar fight on his record earlier in his college career, and he recently was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

First, Elway addressed Roby’s off-field issues after the pick was made.

“Well, those [character concerns] were all weighed in," he said. "When we’re making our selection notes we definitely look at those and look at the history as well as the character side; that’s very important.”

Elway continued, “We also looked at the positive things about Bradley, and there are a lot of positive things there. We realize that he’s a young guy that has made some mistakes. Obviously, we expect those things not to happen when he comes here. We believe that we’ve got a tremendous locker room, so I think he will get a lot of guidance there in the locker room. So, we knew those things were there. But again, him sitting there on the board—he was the guy that helped us the most. So we were thrilled he was still sitting there.”

Roby then had his chance to chime in on his first conference call with the Denver media.

“I want to start off by saying I’m not a bad guy," he said. "[The] bar fight, it was not a bar fight. No punches were thrown. It was a situation with a bouncer, and the aggressors were against me. I just retaliated—I made a bad decision. I chose to push the guy and that’s what happened. The next situation, it came out that I was drinking and driving, and I was not. I was asleep in my car. And I don’t want to get into the details of the situations because they’re behind me. The NFL is about perception and just the fact that I got run into with the law, people may question my character, but you don’t know anybody really close to me. I’m not that way at all; my coaches mention that. So I think people kind of have questions about me because of the issues I’ve made, about my past, but I can honestly say that in those situations, I have never committed a crime.”

Roby expressed, “I’m going to rest my case on that. I don’t want to get into too much of it. I’m not a bad guy, not a guy you have to worry about off the field. I won’t have any incidents like that because it’s all about being smart. These past two incidents have helped me—have taught me about being aware, being aware when you’re out in public.”


The Fit

Roby is a fast corner who ran a 4.39 at the scouting combine earlier this year. He uses that speed to get to the play when it breaks down in front of him. He can plant his foot in the ground and drive forward quickly out of his backpedal.

Roby can also use his speed to stay with receivers on downfield routes. He does a good job of tracking passes deep, and Roby can make a play on the ball. During his three years at Ohio State, Roby had 36 pass breakups.

He runs into trouble because of his aggression. Roby will bite on play fakes, and his transition from backpedal to sprint takes too long. He needs to play more loosely in his hips to be more fluid when he has to turn unexpectedly downfield.

Roby may draw a few personal foul penalties at the pro level because of his aggression. He likes to launch himself at a ball-carrier or receiver rather than wrap them up and complete the tackle. This style of hitting will cause some missed tackles from Roby.


The Expectations

Roby will compete for playing time as the team’s nickel corner in 2014. His main competition at the position will be last year’s third-round pick, Kayvon Webster. Both are aggressive players who can lay down big hits on the competition.

Webster gets the edge in experience. He was asked to do a lot last year as he filled in for an injured Champ Bailey, and then he filled in for an injured Chris Harris in the playoffs. Webster should be able to use that experience to his advantage.

Roby gets the advantage in speed and athleticism. He’s faster than Webster, but he’s not as big. Roby has better recovery speed, and the rookie can break up more passes.

With Harris coming off a partially torn ACL he suffered in the playoff game against the Chargers, the Broncos may ask Roby to start on the outside. Harris should be ready by the start of the regular season, but that’s no guarantee.

The team also has durability concerns with Aqib Talib. He’s a talented player and a true shutdown corner, but Talib has never played a full 16-game regular season in his six-year pro career. So even if Harris is healthy and looks like his old self, Roby may be starting on the outside anyway if Talib is bitten by the injury bug.


Grade: B+

The Broncos didn’t reach for Roby. In fact, Elway considered Roby a top-15 talent in this year’s draft class.

“We’re thrilled to get him at 31, and I think there’s no question if he hadn’t had the couple issues that he’s had, there’s no way he would’ve been there for us at 31," he said. "So those are hopefully for him learning experiences. He’s 21 years old. Young guys are going to make mistakes. So I’m sure he’s going to come in here—like I said, I’m thrilled with the locker room that we have.”

Elway continued by saying, “We’ve got a bunch of professionals in there, and I’m sure he’s going to learn a lot from the guys that are in there. Couple that with his physical talent, we think that we got a gem.”


All quotes and injury/practice observations obtained firsthand. Record/statistical information provided via email from the Denver Broncos. All draft grades provided by

Cecil Lammey can be followed on Twitter @CecilLammey.