Ohio State Buckeyes star cornerback Bradley Roby could’ve left school early after the 2012 season and more than likely would’ve been a first round draft pick, despite only being a redshirt sophomore. Instead, the 5-foot 11, 192-pound cover man from Suwanee, Georgia, decided to come back to Columbus to fine-tune his game and work on his leadership skills in the hopes of raising his NFL Draft stock even more.
Fast forward to present day, just past the halfway point of the Buckeyes season, and Roby is still widely considered a surefire first round draft pick. But he certainly hasn’t improved his stock the way he’s intended, at least thus far.
His play overall in 2013 has been pretty darn good. Has he been as good as last year when he was a consensus All-American? No, and that’s not just my opinion. His own head coach, Urban Meyer, has said the same exact thing. But that’s just comparing his play from 2013 to 2012, it’s not an indictment on Roby. Even though he hasn’t consistently played as well as he did last year, he’s still probably the best cornerback in the country when it comes right down to it.
But the one game suspension to start the season off doesn’t help a prospect’s resumé (he reportedly struck a bouncer at an Indiana bar and was booked for misdemeanor battery). And the most recent incident, in which he was ejected in the first quarter of the Iowa game for a targeting foul, regardless of whether you think he should or shouldn’t have been ejected, also won’t excite NFL personnel men who’ve been looking for more composure from the fiery leader.
But all of this will be forgotten on Saturday when the No. 4 Buckeyes host the Penn State Nittany Lions. Why? Because this will be the matchup of the year for Roby (at least until the postseason), because he gets to go one-on-one with the top receiver of the Big Ten in Allen Robinson.
Robinson, who caught 77 balls last year for 1,018 yards and 11 touchdowns en route to winning Big Ten Receiver of the Year, was a 2013 preseason All-American, and thus far he hasn’t disappointed despite playing with a true freshman QB. Through six games, Robinson has hauled in 43 receptions for 705 yards and five scores.
Robinson, who caught five balls for 68 yards in last year’s 35-23 loss to Ohio State, won’t be able to win this matchup with speed, because Roby has him beat there. But the difference in size will be the truly interesting battle. Roby is giving up four inches and 18 pounds to Robinson, who can be very physical with opposing cornerbacks, especially at the line of scrimmage.
With a dominant performance against Robinson, who’s looking like a late first/early second round prospect at this point, Roby could re-enter the discussion of potentially being the first cornerback selected in the 2014 NFL Draft and possibly even a top-ten pick.