The Ohio State Buckeyes have one of the best traditions for producing talented defensive backs both at cornerback and safety. The next in this line is Bradley Roby, the extremely talented and physical corner from Georgia. Roby had a great deal of buzz as a possible underclassman that could have declared for the NFL Draft after his redshirt sophomore year this past season, but opted to stay for his junior year. His stated goal is to be a Top 10 pick. Roby’s size, strength, and speed are among the best in the country and he has shown a willingness to play physical, the ability to cover well, and make plays on the football along with a tenacious attitude that never allows him to quit. I he can continue developing, iron out some minor technical issues, and become more consistent, he definitely could end up reaching that goal whenever he decide to enter the draft.
Vitals & Build
Roby is listed 5’11” 190lbs and has a great frame for the position with broader shoulders than a lot of corners enabling him to take up space and box out receivers. He has impressive strength and incredible acceleration and raw speed. Roby has fluid hips and changes direction extremely well. It is unclear how much better Roby’s athleticism and overall strength can get but the draft community will be excited to find out as most of his physical tools are already bordering on elite. His motor never seems to stop and he rarely, if ever, gives up on plays and he tracked down some plays that looked like surefire touchdowns from behind.
Tackling for Roby is hit or miss; he can make big plays and make good plays but he will also try to make plays out of control, lunge and dive where he should be breaking down, and at times will miss plays badly. The one area where Roby is consistent is his ability to use his arms and wrap up on tackles. Roby is a guy who goes all out and is looking to hit and intimidate his opponent every time he gets a chance. He comes downhill as hard as he can and will demonstrate power when he can or dive and try to wrap up and ankle or grab a foot at others, so he will have highlight plays that look good, but he will also have plays where he misses badly and can be extremely frustrating. There are times when he will do exactly what a coach would want; gets in position, breaks down, wraps up and explodes through the ball carrier. The key for Roby this year and going forward will be to make that consistently happen and reduce or eliminate the unnecessary diving.
Roby is really impressive when it comes to limiting receivers with yards after catch by being able to tackle receivers who he is covering immediately or getting in position to make tackles on players making catches in other areas of the field.
Roby is an asset in run support and is a guy who could easily play strong side corner at the next level and brings an attitude that a defensive coordinator is going to love. When he reads run, he comes downhill as fast as he can to make plays and is not afraid to lay the wood and is a guy who will make plays in the backfield. He has shown the ability to take on and shed blocks, demonstrating the willingness to go straight on with receivers and simply outmuscle those who are just hoping being in the way is enough. He has also demonstrated the ability to use his hands to keep spacing and defeat blocks going around them.
Occasionally, Roby will get too cute with trying to get around blocks and end up taking himself out of plays and trying to go around blocks he should simply go through. The other issue Roby runs into is that he comes downhill so hard that at times he will play out of control and whiff on plays he should break down to make. He will lunge and dive at the runner’s legs at times and in doing so, will lose outside contain in the process. For the most part, he is going to make more plays than he will miss and make a few great plays along the way, but he needs to learn to collect himself and make the smart play at times in order to be more consistent. Still, he is a huge asset for teams looking for a corner willing to be physical and a difference maker in the running game.
Roby absolutely has the physical tools and ability to be a tremendous man cover corner but there are a number of small mistakes that he needs to iron out for the NFL. Roby has good feet, acceleration, raw speed, and the hips to blanket receivers. He has demonstrated he can play in press and seems to revel in the ability to go up and jolt receivers at the line. Roby can do a tremendous job of mirroring receiver routes and shows at times the ability to run the route for them or get to the ball faster than they do. His explosion out of his breaks is fantastic, but he is not overwhelmingly comfortable in this area, but this is a matter of just getting more reps at it and doing it more.
Roby possesses the natural athleticism to the point where he can cover almost any receiver in college football, make mistakes and still have the time and raw speed to make up for it. For example, against Penn State, Roby was legitimately beaten three times but managed to recover and knock down passes without looking or separating the receiver from the ball, which are good things, but they could have easily been three big plays against him. His backpedal is too high and his steps generally do not cover much ground as perhaps they could when he pedals backward. If he can get lower and get more distance in his steps, he can stay in it longer, react more quickly and as a result, have more opportunities to make plays on the football. Roby needs to do a better job of tracking down the ball on passes going down the field. He does a good job of reading the receiver’s eyes and hands as to when the ball is coming in and times when to knock the ball out or throw his arms up to deflect passes. If he can also track down the receiver, turn his head and locate the football to create more opportunities for interceptions, it can make a huge difference in his ability to cause turnovers and shut down opponents. Roby is not a guy who gives up much in terms of yards after catch and can bring down opponents quickly after they make a catch.
This is where Roby is at his best because he is far more comfortable with his eyes on the quarterback and being able to come forward. He does a good job following the quarterback’s eyes, knowing his limits on how much space he can give and breaks on the ball extremely well. He has the long arms to get his hands on the ball, the ball skills to catch interceptions, and the power and fearless approach to separate the receiver from the ball or make a good tackle. Roby’s acceleration is remarkable and it allows him to cover a lot of ground and get places in a hurry making him a fantastic fit in zone coverage and even shows the ability to jump off of coverage from one receiver to another and make a play on the ball.
Roby has demonstrated that is a threat to get interceptions. He has natural hands and is not afraid to go for the ball and make a big play. As long as he can find the ball, he can make a play on it and can make the quick adjustment to find and catch passes when he flips around in man coverage. Roby will and has dropped passes he should not and needs to be more consistent taking advantage of opportunities when he gets them, but he is a threat opposing quarterbacks have to be aware or he will make them pay.
Because of his incredible athleticism and experience returning kicks, Roby is not uncomfortable or remotely nervous with the ball in his hands after he gets a turnover and is definitely a threat to score.
Blitzing off the Edge
Roby can fly off the edge and can absolutely level a quarterback. His acceleration is so impressive and his top end speed combined with his power and momentum not only make him a threat to get to the quarterback but hit them hard enough to knock the ball out as well as knock them out of the game. What makes him scary is he has the quickness and speed that he can disguise the blitz or have a slight delay and still make it with little problem. It should not take long before quarterbacks make sure they locate Roby and make sure he is not coming on the blitz.
Roby has done some returning during his career for the Buckeyes and given his remarkable athleticism and strength, he can probably be a good on little more than instinct. His bigger value has been as a gunner on special teams. Not only is he a guy who can run down the field with anybody but he shown the ability to get into the backfield and block punts. He also recovered one for a touchdown. This is just one more area where Roby can contribute for a team.
Right now, Roby’s best fit is in a zone system that allows him to keep his eyes in the backfield and on the quarterback with the ability to break on the ball and cause turnovers. He is just more natural and more comfortable there. Roby has shown that he has the tools to play in off man as well as the potential to be a great press corner, but he needs to continue developing to hit the level he is currently playing, especially when it comes to turning and running with a receiver and how to find the ball in that area. One team that jumps out right now is what Green Bay is running with their secondary which has zone and some off man concepts.
|Sat, Aug. 31||vs. Buffalo|
|Sat, Sept. 7||vs. San Diego State|
|Sat, Sept. 14||at Cal|
|Sat, Sept 21||vs. Florida A&M|
|Sat, Sept. 28||vs. Wisconsin|
|Sat, Oct. 5||at Northwestern|
|Sat, Oct. 19||vs. Iowa|
|Sat, Oct. 26||vs. Penn State|
|Sat, Nov. 2||at Purdue|
|Sat, Nov. 16||at Illinois|
|Sat, Nov. 23||vs. Indiana|
|Sat, Nov. 30||vs. Michigan|
The Buckeyes schedule is putrid for the most part with an extremely poor out of conference slate, but two games do stand out for Roby in addition to what should be a high level bowl game. The first is Wisconsin and while they are rarely known to be a big passing team, they do have a talented receiving prospect in Jared Abbredaris. The other team that jumps out is Michigan as arguably the best rivalry game in the country but also because this game should have a substantial amount on the line as both teams are favorites in the conference overall.
There are a few players that could work here such as former Buckeye Antoine Winfield with his hitting power and ability to clamp down on the run, but ultimately the best comparison seems to be Joe Haden, formerly of the Florida Gators and is now with the Cleveland Browns. They have similar size and stature if the listed stats are legitimate on Roby. Haden and Roby are both guys who are willing to go up and hit someone as well as attack the run. They are also guys who show good ball skills but really show a knack for being able to poke the ball away from receivers, even when they are from behind. When Haden came out, he was talented but he was not a complete polished prospect like Roby; though Roby has potentially two more years to iron his skills out, he could still end up having a better pro career than college. Roby appears to have slightly more physical talent than Haden.
Roby’s physical tools, aggressive nature, and willingness to compete could have him as a fringe first round prospect on their own, but if he does not make adjustments with his technique, NFL receivers could take advantage of some small technical flaws to create space against him. If he can iron out his technique and become more consistent, he has chance to possess to be a strong side corner who can shut down the run and cover the opposing team’s best receiver with a high level of success. In that respect, he has a chance to have be an elite corner prospect whenever he declares for the NFL Draft and warrant a Top 10 selection.