A whirlwind offseason for Bradley Roby has ended exactly where the confident cornerback always expected: The first round of the NFL draft.
The former Ohio State star, who left school after his junior campaign, was selected this evening by the Denver Broncos with the 31st overall pick of the first round.
The Broncos will get a player with perhaps unmatched speed as well as excellent tackling skills and a knack for making plays, but also a player who perhaps carries baggage after a pair of run-ins with the law and an uneven final campaign in college.
Roby's star-crossed final season at OSU got off to a rough start in July when, mere days before fall camp started, he was arrested for his role in an altercation in a Bloomington, Ind., establishment.
Those charges were dismissed but Roby was suspended for the opening game of the season, and his campaign never seemed to get on track. He was chosen a first-team All-Big Ten selection after making 69 tackles, 13 pass breakups and three interceptions and scoring two touchdowns – returning a pick-six for a score vs. Illinois and also blocking a punt vs. Northwestern and recovering it for a TD in that key win.
But he had trouble with Wisconsin star wideout Jared Abbrederis and seemed to be victimized on a number of miscommunications during the season, and one of his trademark skills during the campaign was showing off his speed to catch players from behind who had gotten behind the OSU defense. He also missed the Orange Bowl because of injury, and some observers – including head coach Urban Meyer himself – noted that Roby seemed to be struggling with having passed up the draft a year earlier.
Even his lead-up to the draft has been up and down. Roby was cited for not having physical control of his vehicle recently – originally an OVI charge, one many thought might keep him from the first round – but he tore up the offseason workout circuit on his way to being rated a first-round talent.
"Roby was a starter in all 37 games he played in over his three-year playing career with the Buckeyes," Scout draft analyst Jamie Newberg wrote in his draft preview. "He had 44 career passes defended, eight interceptions and 36 pass breakups. Roby has good size (5-11/194) and ran 4.39 [forty] at the NFL combine. He has an outstanding burst and was one of just a few prospects at combine with a sub-1.5 10 yard forty split. Roby had 1.47 and 1.50. He also ran a sizzling 4.04 short shuttle, showing his agility and lateral quickness. This is a physical and aggressive defensive back who has all the traits to be an outstanding cornerback in the NFL."
A one-time Vanderbilt commit, Roby made a switch to the Buckeyes late in the recruiting process and redshirted at Ohio State in 2010. He immediately joined the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman in 2011 and finished with 47 tackles, six pass breakups and three interceptions.
His true breakout season came in 2012 in his second campaign as a starter. Roby had 63 tackles, 17 pass breakups and two interceptions, allowing him to lead the nation in passes defended per game. He also showed his playmaking skills as he recovered a fumbled punt in the end zone vs. Miami, recovered a blocked punt in the end zone vs. Indiana and intercepted a pass vs. Nebraska and returned it for a touchdown.
That year, he was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten pick, a first-team All-American according to ESPN.com, a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award and a second-team All-American according to The Associated Press and the Walter Camp Football Foundation.
He finished his career with 37 career starts, 179 tackles, 36 pass breakups and eight interceptions. Roby's 44 passes defended rank third in school history.
He and joins Ryan Shazier as Buckeyes to be selected in the first round. Shazier went 15th overall to Pittsburgh.