Breaking Down What Makes Ohio State's Bradley Roby College Football's Top CB

Randy ChambersAnalyst IMay 31, 2013

November 24, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defensive back Bradley Roby (1) celebrates after stopping the Michigan Wolverines on a 3rd and short at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won the game 26-21. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Bradley Roby is a special player and the best cornerback in college football. He could have left early for last year's NFL draft as a redshirt-sophomore and would have been selected within the first two rounds.

Unfortunately for Big Ten quarterbacks, he's back and ready to terrorize the conference for a third season. College football has a lot of solid corners, but none are as polished or have the same playmaking ability as Roby. He flies around on the field and makes everybody's job difficult.

What makes him so good and why is he receiving so much love from NFL scouts?

Closing Speed

It is no secret that cornerbacks must be fast, but Roby has taken things to a completely new level. NFL Draft Scout reports that his 40-yard dash time is 4.42 seconds with a low of 4.30. While Roby does seem even faster than that on film, either of those times would have made him the fastest corner in last year's NFL draft class.  

This speed allows him to do so much on the field, but most importantly he can become that corner who sits out there on an island. He doesn't need much help on his side of the field because there isn't a receiver capable of breaking free consistently. Roby has the explosiveness to keep up with a receiver down field, but the speed and timing helps him on shorter routes as well.  

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Here you see a Michigan State receiver has created separation and is in position to pick up a first down. You see Roby breaking on the ball, but he shouldn't possibly be able to get there with the ball already out of the quarterback's hand. This is one of the few times you will see the Buckeye corner beaten in man-coverage.

Just kidding. Roby was able to close the distance and break up the pass to prevent moving the chains. The pass could have been thrown a little better to lead the receiver towards the sidelines, but there aren't many corners who would have been able to make that play.

The recovery speed and ability to get back on defense makes him incredibly special. This then gives the coaching staff more confidence and allows them to do different things with his ability. Even with his lack of size at 5'11", he is fast enough to be able to cover any receiver or running back on the field. You can mix and match him all over the place, which drives offenses and quarterbacks crazy.

Roby is the type of player you need to be aware of at all times.

You also have to watch out for him on a cornerback blitz. In this game against California, Roby was able to get to the quarterback before he even finished his five-step drop. The poor tight end had no chance on the block.

Roby has elite speed for his position and it plays a huge role in why he is able to make so many plays.

Ball Skills

Besides speed, Roby has terrific ball skills. Rivals considered him a wide receiver coming out of high school and that same ability to make plays on the ball shows at corner. Roby led the Big Ten last season with 17 passes broken up, and he already has 23 in his young career.

As you saw in the previous pass breakup against Michigan State, Roby is always looking to make a play on the ball. He has the mentality that if he can't catch the ball, the receiver shouldn't be able to do so either. Of course, this is the way all defensive players should think, but it is rare to see somebody go for the ball every single play.

Here you see a pass that was broken up by Roby in the end zone in a game against Wisconsin. This should have resulted in a touchdown for the Badgers, but didn't thanks to the incredible awareness of the Ohio State defender.

How did this happen?

Roby wasn't able to get his hands on the ball or make an interception, obviously. So instead, he did the third best thing and puts his helmet exactly on the football. This jarred the ball loose and prevented six points for the Big Ten rival.


Think again.

Roby truly goes for the football every time.

While every corner and safety should think like this, you rarely see it done with so much consistency. Most defenders would go for the sure tackle when beaten and call it a day. Roby knows that the play isn't over and goes for the forced incomplete pass or fumble. His feistiness and aggressive attitude has paid off in a big way.

It has even led to playing time on special teams, as he is a member of the "special hands" team on kickoff coverage.

And he is also included as somebody who goes after the punter.

Roby simply attracts the football and knows how to get his hands on it. When you combine his blazing speed and magnetic hands, you end up with the best cornerback in college football.

Note: All screenshots were pulled from YouTube video uploaded by user D Wright. All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.


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