Bradley Roby was destroyed by Wisconsin's Jared Abbrederis. Everyone, including Roby, knows as much. On the field, that game was the low point of Roby's tumultuous final season at Ohio State.
There were times in 2013 where Roby looked every bit the top cornerback prospect in this year's draft. There were others, though, where his lack of instincts and discipline caused him to get passed up by corners with less pure ability.
Roby also battled injuries last season, including a bone bruise that kept him out of a primetime showdown with Sammy Watkins of Clemson. He also had a shoulder injury in 2012.
More damning are some off-field issues. Roby was recently charged with OVI. He was also suspended the first game of Ohio State's season following an assault claim in Indiana. He admitted at the NFL Combine in February, that it threw him off at the start of the season.
"Me not playing that first game, my mindset in camp wasn’t where it should have been," Roby said. "I knew I wasn’t playing the first game, so I might have maybe not gotten as many reps as I normally would have. At corner, reps is everything, training your eyes, looking at the right places all the time, all those type of things. Kind of got away from that. Kind of undisciplined type of play I was playing at the beginning of the season."
Ball skills: Compiling 13 pass breakups and three interceptions in 2013, Roby has flashed reliable hands when he locates the ball. Roby's ball skills are also on display on special teams, where he's shown he can block punts (he even scored a touchdown blocking one against Northwestern in 2013). Needs to learn to time his jumps better – Abbrederis really took advantage in that area.
Coverage ability: Roby's biggest strength is his ability to run and cover against any type of wide receiver. When he's playing disciplined, Roby possesses impressive agility to mirror wide receivers, particularly on underneath routes. He's certainly fast enough to keep up on vertical routes against speed receivers. Bigger and stronger wide receivers can give Roby trouble because of his lacking physicality. This is especially notable on jump ball plays. He does, however, know how to body up receivers so they don't create a large window for the quarterback.
Roby's athleticism makes him one of the better off man cornerbacks in this year's draft. He is fluid in his backpedal and doesn't give up more space than he can close on. When he sees the ball in the air, Roby can close on it in a hurry. Has some experience in zone as well, and should be able to play it in the NFL.
Instincts/recognition: Roby's natural athleticism often bails out his lack of technique and instincts. That's what a 4.04 three-cone and a 38.5-inch vertical leap will do for a player. Too often Roby gets burned because he'll have his eyes in the backfield. In turn, this will lead to Roby gambling on a throw and often missing out.
Run support: A willing player against the run, Roby doesn't have the strength to always win here successfully. Blockers can neutralize him and ball carriers can run him over. If Roby can add some strength, he could be an asset in this area. It's unrelated to run support, but with nowhere else to put it, it's noteworthy that Roby is a capable blitzer.
Final word: A wonderfully gifted athlete, Roby has the skills to be a shutdown cornerback in the NFL. His lapses in discipline – on and off the field – are the only things stopping him.