One of the biggest NFL Draft debates this year may come when pundits are asked who the better cornerback is between Florida‘s Loucheiz Purifoy and Ohio State‘s Bradley Roby. The two players have several things in common: they’re both juniors, they have outstanding ability in coverage, they each had some off-the-field issues this offseason, and they probably will both be taken in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Though Roby is not the most physical corner in the world, he has the ability to shut receivers down in coverage. On top of that, he is a legitimate playmaker, and his great effort and athletic ability are easy to see whenever he takes the field.
Because of the way he plays, Roby would probably be best-utilized in a zone-based coverage scheme, although he has definitely held his own when he has played man-to-man, particularly when going against Penn State‘s Allen Robinson last season.
It is important that Roby stay out of trouble going forward if he wants to keep his draft stock high. He was arrested this offseason on a charge of battery resulting in bodily injury, though the charges were later dropped.
NFL teams have tended to shy away from corners with off-the-field issues in recent years, namely Janoris Jenkins and Tyrann Mathieu, so Roby should be working hard to make sure that this incident is the only negative mark on his record come draft time.
- Very disciplined in coverage
- Obvious ballhawking ability, really knows how to position himself to get to the ball
- Does a good job of getting in front of receivers and swatting balls away
- Good at blitzing off the edge
- Very solid in man-to-man coverage when given the opportunity
- Always plays full-speed, chases down defenders in the open field even if it isn’t his man
- Exceptional jumping ability
- Not a very good run defender
- Frequently gets pushed around by blocking receivers
- Tackling form isn’t fantastic; he usually goes for ankles
- Has a tendency to be a passive defender
- Very limited experience with press coverage
- Character concerns stemming from an arrest for battery this offseason, though the charges were later dropped
Roby already got off to a rough start to the 2013 season, having been suspended for Ohio State’s season opener due to his offseason arrest. As the Buckeyes head towards the conference portion of their schedule, Roby will need to continue to do what he did last year and make big plays.
Seeing as Ohio State doesn’t play against many high-powered passing offenses, Roby needs to take advantage of all the coverage opportunities he gets, and it would benefit him to shore up his run-defending ability as well.
2014 Draft Projection: 1st round