Ohio State's Bradley Roby went into the 2013 season considered the nation's best cornerback, but after an up-and-down year he didn't exit it the same way.
But NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah said the old thinking about Roby should become the current thinking. Jeremiah said Roby "is worthy of a top-20 pick" on the NFL Network's "Path to the Draft" on Monday night.
Jeremiah said Roby (5-foot-11, 194 pounds) "had a couple of rough games" as a junior in 2013 but is "as talented as any cornerback in this draft." Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert is the No. 1 cornerback on most analyst's lists, but it wouldn't be that big a surprise if Roby is the first corner selected. Roby, Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard, Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller and TCU's Jason Verrett all have their supporters, and all five could go in the first round on May 8.
As for Roby's "rough games," at the top of that list was his performance in the Buckeyes' win over Wisconsin. The Badgers' Jared Abbrederis had 10 catches for 207 yards and a TD; it was the first 200-yard performance by a Badgers wide receiver since Lee Evans had 258 yards against Michigan State in 2003. Roby resorted to a lot of grabbing and holding. Abbrederis schooled Roby to the point that by late in the first half, the Buckeyes were sending safety help Roby's way.
A few weeks later, before a game with Penn State, Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer told reporters that Roby was "not playing at the same level he did a year ago."
In February, Roby tried to rewrite history a bit, telling foxsports.com that Abbrederis "probably caught four balls on me." At the same time, Roby admitted he "was kind of slacking. I didn't start off the season as serious as I should have. ... At cornerback you always have to be fundamentally sound, and if you don't, you're going to mess up."
Roby missed Ohio State's Orange Bowl loss to Clemson because of a bone bruise in his knee, but other than that, this year has gone well for him. He stood out at February's NFL Scouting Combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds, which included an unofficial 10-yard split of an eye-opening 1.47 seconds. He also turned in a vertical jump of 38.5 inches and a broad jump of 10 feet, 4 inches and did the 20-yard shuttle in 4.04 seconds.
Roby did play better in the second half of the season, and when scouts look at that footage and tape from the 2012 season, they see a cornerback who plays with great confidence and shows off elite speed. He finished his college career with eight interceptions and 36 pass breakups. He hasn't played much press coverage and sometimes relies too much on his speed, but his size and ball skills -- along with that speed -- basically seem to ensure he will go in the first round.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.