The Ohio State University has a long line of well known, well respected defensive backs. Bradley Roby is a name that you can add to that list. From Jack Tatum to Malcom Jenkins, with a slew of names in between, Roby is attempting to become another multi-time All-American Buckeye defender. Scouts are already raving about the red-shirt junior as the top corner in next year’s draft, should he choose to come out early.
In his initial big board for the 2014 NFL Draft, ESPN’s draft expert has Roby as the top corner prospect available and No. 9 overall. – BleacherReport.com
His ball skills are top notch and his closing ability is rivaled by few. Having played wide receiver in high school has surely helped with his ability to snag inceptions from opposing receivers, which is something he looks to improve up this coming season. While Roby defended quite a few passes (19), he intercepted only two. This is definitely an area of improvement needed across the board in the secondary, but with Roby likely on an island in many situations, we will rely quite a bit on him. Ohio State cornerbacks coach, Kerry Coombs, has spoken highly of Roby, especially highlighting Roby’s preparation with game films.
Film preparation may be one of the most overlooked things when it comes to the common fan’s thoughts on defensive players. Being able to see differences in moves and breaks in wide receivers patterns may make the difference between an offensive touchdown and a pick-six going the other way. DBs can also pick up nuances in the quarterback’s movements both pre-snap and post, which is similar to a poker tell in the way they can forecast their upcoming decisions. These are the things that separate elite athletes from elite position players. Many guys can go out and run fast 40 times, jump high and catch footballs, but few can put in the time and effort it takes to become more than an instinctive player, to become a smart player as well.
Great cornerbacks have to go beyond instincts, they have to know what an opposing player is going to do before he does it. Whether it’s a quick slant or a double move deep, corners have the responsibility to read that players movements in milliseconds and make a potentially game saving play. Beyond that, guys in the secondary need to be able to come up and make a stop. Roby has shown that type of ability since he has shown up in an Ohio State uniform, racking up 63 total tackles last season, good for 3rd overall on the team. That type of commitment, to going beyond the normal preparation, making plays others have problems with, not only builds ability, but builds leadership. This is something the Buckeye defense is in need of this season, with the departure of guys like John Simon. Clearly one of the most outspoken, motivating players to ever wear the scarlet and grey, replacing Simon on a leadership level is just as high on the priority list as replacing his ability level.
Roby fits this mold well.
He isn’t afraid to get the other guys on his team motivated, and he surely isn’t afraid to get in someone’s face when they need a wake up call on the field. Roby has been loud and charismatic when needed as a young gun, and now as someone with seniority he will flourish in that role of replacing Simon. Actions surely speak louder than words, Roby isn’t afraid to use either.
As the season goes on our defense is sure to see its tests through the air. Consistently known for our rush defense, it’s very rare that teams don’t try to test our secondary early and often. Roby is the biggest key to this defense, likely responsibly for locking down an entire fourth, if not third, of the field. Hopefully he’s up to the task.