2014 NFL Draft: Bradley Roby Scouting Report
College: Ohio State
Video, per YouTube
While Roby has struggled this year one thing that has remained crystal clear is just how great of an athlete he is. You can look at his 4.3 40-yard dash time but to really appreciate his speed you have to watch him on the field. While speed isn't a necessity for every position, the ability to get to the ball or wide receiver quickly or recover to close separation is key for a cornerback. Being able to turn and run with the fastest wide receivers is key in the NFL, and Roby possesses the elite speed to match up with the best of them. Roby also shows the strength and leaping ability to go up and fight for contested balls, and either being able to knock the ball away or even create an interception. While he may not be 6'0", Roby has enough size to play tighter coverage and be more physical, which matched with his athleticism makes him an even better cornerback prospect with very high potential.
One underappreciated area of Roby's game that I love is not just his play against the run but his willingness to come in and lay the lumber on the running back is rare for cornerbacks.
Many cornerbacks are just fine playing their role in coverage and are successful, but like to sit back and let their teammates handle the run.
Roby is an aggressive player in coverage and against the run, he isn't afraid to come flying down into the box and deliver a hit on the running back. It helps that Roby has a clean technique to hit the ball carrier at just the right spot to bring them down, squaring up his shoulders and not reaching for ankle tackles.
Roby can do a nice job sealing the outside and preventing the running back from breaking free to the outside and trying to break a big run down the sidelines. Roby is very good in coverage but his willingness to come in against the run is admirable and a big plus that coaches will love.
While I like Roby's aggressiveness against the run and it can result in some big plays including interceptions, it has hurt him more often in 2013.
Roby loves taking chances and you have seen opponents take advantage of this in 2013.
With pump fakes, and quick Roby's aggressive play hurt him and he would give up big plays to wide receivers like Jared Abbrederis and most recently against Michigan State.
It's an issue that is occurring more and more frequently and while coaches will work with Roby on managing his aggressive play and how to play smarter, NFL quarterbacks will pick on him as an overly aggressive rookie cornerback. Roby's technique still needs work and when he isn't in the right position, his over-aggressiveness hurts him the most. But hopefully it's an issue that NFL coaches will be able to fix and help maximize Roby's physical talents.
2013 vs. 2012:
While Roby has immense potential and size, strength and athleticism that everyone covets, another big reason he was so highly regarded entering the 2013 season is because of how well he played in 2012. It was Roby's second season starting for the Buckeyes and he was incredible. He made huge strides from his 2011 season and was showcasing himself as a shutdown corner and a top-10 talent in next year's NFL Draft. But then the 2013 season happened and more of Roby's flaws were exposed. Scouts will inevitably have to flip between his 2013 and 2012 tape to determine what went wrong and which player they are getting and to what level his issues can be corrected.
NFL Player Comparison:
Joe Haden, Cleveland Browns
While many will view this as a stretch, Roby and Haden actually have a lot of similarities when looking back at Haden in college. Haden was a great athlete coming out of college with the size, speed and strength that defensive coaches drool over. He had all of the physical tools to be an elite corner, and like Roby had no problems attacking against the run.
The difference between the two in terms of draft stock is that Haden was coming off a strong season at Florida while Roby hasn't delivered on the high expectations many had for him before the season. Roby's struggled with inconsistency this year and at times it has seemed like he was coasting through plays, just waiting for the season to be over so he could declare for the NFL Draft. Roby has plenty of upside like Haden did coming out of Florida and if all goes well, Roby could become a shutdown corner at the next level.
Roby entered the year as a potential top-10 selection and was the clear front-runner to be the first cornerback selected in the 2014 NFL Draft. Roby's inconsistency this year hurt him and many will point towards him getting torched by Abbrederis as the ultimate example. While there certainly was more bad film of Roby this season there were some bright spots including against Michigan. The physical ability is still there with Roby and he already has elite speed that great cornerbacks have. Even after a down season, Roby is still a first-round pick and has the chance to push his stock even higher with an upcoming bowl game and the Scouting Combine.
As the NFL turns into more of a passing league, cornerbacks gain more value and the need for more top cornerbacks grows for NFL teams. There will be plenty of teams picking in the middle and late end of the first round that need help at cornerback. The Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears will all be looking for help in the secondary.
The perfect situation for Roby would be a team like the Bears who will face some tough decisions in the offseason with Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings and Zachary Bowman all set to hit the open market. Even if the Bears can bring back Tillman and Jennings, age will be a factor with Tillman turning 33 in February and Jennings turning 30. Roby fits well into the Bears scheme and really could be mentored by two great cornerbacks about the mental aspect of the game and be taught the famous punch move Tillman uses to force so many fumbles.