Had Roby declared for the NFL draft, following his sophomore season, he likely would have been a top 10 pick. But he did not. And his junior season, although marked with some phenomenal plays, was a bit of a mixed bag.
Nonetheless, he finally threw his name into the NFL draft hat and thus began the process of intense scrutiny on the young defensive back.
Roby received a 1st round grade almost unanimously from the draftnik community. Some felt like he was worthy of a top 15 pick, others felt like he belonged at the bottom of the 1st round. The reality was, those who felt like he was worthy of being selected in the top 15 were closer to the truth.
Fortunately for the Broncos, the rest of the NFL obviously didn't see it that way. And like his 2013 1st round pick, Sylvester Williams, John Elway was able to snag a blue chip talent at the end of the opening round.
Typical of the traditional rookie learning curve, Roby had an up and down training camp. Mostly he struggled with the mental side of assimilating the Broncos' playbook, and adjusting to the speed of the NFL game.
His former Big 10 battles with wide receiver, Cody Latimer, followed him to the Mile High City, as he found himself doing battle with his new teammate, more often than not. Early on, Latimer was on the winning side of most of those matchups. And it caused much hand-wringing in the Denver media.
It got to the point where any time Roby did a radio interview, he would get asked about Latimer. I was listening to Denver sports radio one day, about halfway through training camp, when I heard Roby finally snap. The radio host asked him again about his "struggles" covering Cody Latimer.
Roby didn't explode, nor did he leave the interview. But he made it clear that he was done talking about the rookie wide receiver out of the University of Indiana.
I liked hearing that fire. That competitive spirit. Conspicuously, it was from about that time on that Roby's star began to burn a little bit brighter in Dove Valley. When he was tasked with covering Houston Texans' wide receiver, Andre Johnson, in the Broncos' week 3 of the preseason, it was his first real test in live-game action. And it was against one of the best to ever play the game.
Roby not only held his own, but he made some phenomenal plays, especially one on 3rd down that showcased his elite closing speed and explosive ability to lay the hit.
The rookie saw more playing time with the Broncos first-team defensive unit than the team probably initially planned. With starting right cornerback, and nickel extraordinaire, Chris Harris, Jr, out, Roby was cast into the refiner's fire early and often.
He produced. And now word has come out from Head Coach, John Fox, that Roby has usurped 2nd year pro, Kayvon Webster, as the team's #3 CB. Now that Harris is healthy, he will start in base package opposite of Aqib Talib. But when the Broncos go to their nickel sub-package, which may as well be their base package because of how many snaps NFL defenses play in it, trying to counter the proliferation of the modern day passing game, it'll be Roby who plays on the outside.
This development does raise some questions about Kayvon Webster, who had an excellent camp. Some rumors have indicated that something happened in Dallas that led to Webster and running back, Ronnie Hillman, being briefly hospitalized. And the coaches didn't like it. Hillman has been demoted to the Broncos' RB3 as a result.
Don't read too much into the Webster situation. When the Broncos have to run dime sub-packages, with 4 CBs, Webster will see the field.
But in the meantime, we're going to see Bradley Roby in full effect. With a roster as deep as the Broncos, it really says something when a rookie earns a spot with the first-team defense. It'll be interesting to see how he does vs the Colts trio of WRs, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, and Hakeem Nicks.
UPDATE: Kayvon Webster and Ronnie Hillman are inactive for tonight's game vs the Colts.
Chad Jensen can be found on Twitter @CJ_Broncos.