Marcus Roberson came into the year with a lot of promise and expectations. As a sophomore corner for Florida, he showed a good amount of promise. Unfortunately, injury and suspensions hurt him in his junior year and put a damper on what might have been a big season for him. Nevertheless, he has been a talented cover corner and after one of the most disappointing seasons in Gators history, he opted to declare.
Roberson has a skill set that is certainly attractive to NFL teams, but he is incomplete at this point. He has talent as a cover corner that shows timing to deflect passes, but his strength is mediocre as his ability against the run. Roberson has upside and could pay off down the road, but a team is paying the freight on him initially. There is a small question as to why he was suspended this season. As a result, Roberson has a small chance to go in the top 100 but seems like a player who should go relatively early on day three of the draft.
Vitals & Build
Roberson measured in 6’ 191lbs at the scouting combine with 31” arms. Despite coming in at a great size, his strength is extremely underwhelming and something that needs to improve significantly. Roberson has good natural length, good feet and hips. None of his traits are overwhelming in themselves but the combination allows him to play the position well. His physical potential is in how much strength he can gain, because he is working at a significant disadvantage against size and strength.
Roberson’s tackling is pretty average. He does not bring much power, will take advantage of the sideline whenever possible but he tends to get the job done. The only type of power Roberson shows in hits tend to show up when opponents backs are to him or they are up in the air. Even then, he does not hit with a ton of force.
Tackling is clearly not something Roberson likes doing and when teammates are nearby, he is more than happy to let them take care of it. Still, he tends to do enough in terms of wrapping up the opponent where if he is not getting them down immediately, he is stopping them long enough to have teammates come finish the job.
Roberson is not exactly a passionate run defender and looks like he is looking for to the next passing play. He shows little if any strength in taking on blocks, does not do much in terms of working to shed them and is happy to basically take up a blocker. When able, he will not give up ground, so he can at least clog up a running lane, but there is a part of it that looks like he just wants to look like he is doing his job enough to avoid getting criticized.
Although he has experience both on the strong and weak side, he is a weak side corner right now. He not only has to get stronger, but he simply has to decide run defense is important to him. Teams that are expecting a physical run presence in their corners may not be interested in Roberson altogether or will look at him as a player that is used in obvious passing situations.
Roberson has a ton of experience in man coverage. Not only just playing man, but also playing up on the line, off man and presnap adjustments between the two. Roberson has great feet, quick twitch movements and has pretty good makeup speed.
He is probably best utilized in off man coverage because he sees the field well and has a good knack for understanding angles, he does show ability in playing up on the line. The issue he is going to deal with on the line is that bigger, stronger opponents have shown they can push Roberson around at the collegiate level. That is only going to be a bigger issue in the NFL, especially on the outside.
Roberson has shown he can bend around opponents effectively, has good timing on when he can insert himself into the play and has shown a real knack for when to go for the ball and is able to punch it out. Even against significantly taller opponents, he has shown he can get in at the right time and poke the ball away, really proving to be a pain for opponents down the field and in the end zone.
Roberson has less experience in zone, but they have done it and his experience in off man also helps him in that respect. He has a good sense of timing, but needs to improve his understanding of his range and how far off he can play in zone.
The result is that he tends to get to too many plays late and is tackling a lot of passes or trying to knock the pass out rather than being able to make as many plays on the football or potentially intercept them.
There is talent to be developed in that respect and he could certainly be a fit in that scheme, but just needs more experience in it.
Roberson has shown he is impressive when it comes to knowing how and when to attack the football to knock it away. What he has not proven is that he is a big threat to intercept passes. Between a tendency to go for the pass deflection so much and a lack of opportunities for too many interceptions, he has only come up with three in his career; none in his final year. As a result, while he can knock away passes, but he has not shown opponents a reason to be afraid to throw his way to this point.
Roberson has shown he can be a solid punt returner. He has not proven to be special in that regard, but he will make a man miss and basically get what he should. In that way, Roberson is somewhat safe as a return option, but not someone that is going to scare teams and force them to kick away from him at this point.
Man coverage seems like Roberson’s best fit because he has shown a real knack for being able to play tight coverage without drawing flags as well as understanding how to attack the football. The strength issue is going to hurt him in that respect with some teams, but if a team is intrigued enough with him and can get him stronger, they might like what they have in him in the long run with a talented depth corner initially.
There will probably be teams that like him in zone, but if a team wants him to play zone, he seems far more viable if he is going to play in a scheme that likes to mix up their coverages. He has shown a knack for being able to adjust and giving him more options and versatility might be more suited for what he does.
In addition to being a depth corner initially with a chance to play on the weak side when teams go to nickel, he has a shot to help a team as a punt returner.
Roberson has similarities to Brandon Harris of the Houston Texans. When Harris came out of Miami(FL), he had some of the same ability in coverage but similar issues with a lack of strength. Harris still went in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, but the issues with strength have proven to be problematic in his development. Roberson may be able to get over that hump and have a better pro career, but he has to get stronger.
Marcus Roberson has shown, when healthy, he can be a really talented cover corner. Another year in college might have been the best course of action to get stronger and give him more momentum into next year’s draft, but there is talent and an NFL skill set. If he can get stronger while developing as a corner and potentially as a punt returner, he could have some significant, long term upside. Overall, Roberson has a small chance to go in the top 100, but he seems more likely to go early on day three.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com
Tags: 2014 NFL Draft