As Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby stepped to the start line for the 40-yard dash Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine, draft analyst Mike Mayock told NFL Network’s television audience how much was at stake.
“This kid Bradley Roby from Ohio State, he’s got some really good tape and some really bad tape,” Mayock said from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. “The tape against Wisconsin, [wide receiver Jared] Abbrederis caught 10 for 207 yards on him, and I’m telling you it wasn’t just on zone matchups. He matched him all game in man, and Abbrederis ate him alive, so he needs to run well.”
Then Roby did exactly what he needed to do during the final day of the combine. He posted an official time of 4.39 seconds in the 40, ranking fourth among all defensive backs.
NFLDraftScout.com projects Roby as a second-round pick in May’s draft.
If the Browns want to upgrade their starting cornerback spot opposite Pro Bowler Joe Haden, who served as a guest analyst for NFL Network on Tuesday while the defensive backs worked out at the combine, they could target Roby.
The Browns have an early second-round pick (No. 35 overall), and their depth at the cornerback position is suspect. Buster Skrine proved to be a decent starter alongside Haden last season, but rookie Leon McFadden struggled mightily once he finally received playing time as a nickel corner late in the season.
Roby was considered the top-rated cornerback prospect in college football at one point last year, but a rocky season as a redshirt junior knocked him back. Still, Roby is confident he can become a shutdown cornerback in the NFL.
“I think that’s something I bring to the table to any team,” Roby said at the combine. “And I plan to show that to whatever team drafts me.”
After leading the nation with 19 passes defensed in 2012, Roby slipped last year, when he finished with 13.
The 5-foot-11, 194-pound Roby conceded that he didn’t have a good first half of the season after being suspended for the opener after an arrest for disorderly conduct at a bar in Bloomington, Ind.
“Not playing that first game, my mindset in camp wasn’t where it should have been,” Roby said. “I knew I wasn’t playing, so I might have maybe not gotten as many reps as I normally would have. At corner, reps are everything, training your eyes, looking at the right places all the time, all those type of things. Kind of undisciplined type of play I was playing at the beginning of the season.”
Like Mayock pointed out, Roby had a rough day against Abbrederis, a projected third-round pick, as Ohio State edged Wisconsin 31-24 on Sept. 28.
“I had a lot of hype going into the season and that was our first big game,” Roby said. “When you’re as hyped as I was, you’re going to have that microscope on you and any mistake you make is going to be amplified. That was a little bit of the case right there. Even though I made some mistakes, I only gave up one touchdown, and we won the game as well. It was bad from my standards, but I had a good game, and I learned a lot.”
Roby also took heat for sitting out Ohio State’s 40-35 loss to Clemson on Jan. 3 in the Orange Bowl with a hyperextended knee and deep bone bruise he suffered Dec. 7 in the Big Ten championship game against Michigan State. He defended himself on Twitter after some fans ripped him because he wasn’t on the field while Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins torched the Buckeyes with 16 catches for 227 yards and two touchdowns.
“That was very frustrating,” Roby said. “I had an injury where I couldn’t play. A lot of people decided they wanted to make up things, saying this or that. Everybody is entitled to their own opinions. They can believe what they want to believe. At the end of the day, I just couldn’t get back. I look forward to opportunities like that, and the fact I couldn’t end my career in a game of that caliber kind of hurt me.”
Roby hopes to bounce back in the NFL. Perhaps the combine represented his first step.
Haden discussed a variety of topics on NFL Network, including whether he would like the Browns to draft Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel fourth overall on May 8.
“Manziel, I love the way he plays,” Haden said. “I love his passion. You need that, especially with a young team that we have at the Browns. He would bring that fire to us, man, just that excitement. With ‘Johnny Football,’ you never know what he’s going to do any play, and I like that about him.
“No matter who he plays for, I’m going to be a ‘Johnny Football’ fan for sure.”
Best of 2014
Kent State running back and wide receiver Dri Archer had the best time in the 40-yard dash at this year’s combine.
The 5-8, 173-pound Archer posted a time of 4.26 seconds Sunday, and no one came close to beating it as the combine wrapped up Tuesday.
Last week, Archer predicted he would break the combine record of 4.24 seconds set by Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson in 2008. Although Archer fell just .03 seconds short of reaching his goal, he opened eyes at the combine.
“You can’t just go out and buy speed anywhere,” Archer said at the combine. “Guys like me, smaller guys, are going to cause a lot of problems in the league.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at https://ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.