ENGLEWOOD, Colo.—Wednesday, after day two of the Denver Broncos mini-camp, second-year defensive back Bradley Roby addressed the Denver media and had some astute comments just hours before his 23rd birthday.
Roby, whose birthday is on Friday, was asked the proverbial million question—one that has been on the minds of many in Broncos Country—about if he is a cornerback or safety. As recent news has suggested, he may be shifted from corner to free safety.
“I'm a corner,” he said. “We talked about the safety thing a little bit, but right now at this time we're just worried about corner. If that comes down the road and it happens, I'll [be] into it. Right now, I'm focusing on corner. That's what position I like to play. That's what they drafted me for. Right now, I'm learning the defense at corner.”
Roby also talked about if it helps his confidence that coaches want to find ways to get him more snaps. The team has made it clear they want to find a way to get their 11 best players on the field. Roby, showing obvious maturity, had this to say.
“I'm not insulted at all. I just want to play more. I love to play football. I love to win. I just want to fulfill it and play better than I did last year. I think I did OK last year, but I know I can be a lot better, way better.”
He was then questioned on what he's paying extra attention to this year, now that his overwhelming rookie season is in the books.
“I'm just working on technique,” he said. “If I can get that done now, then by the time the season comes it's going to be first reaction and muscle memory. That's really what I'm working on.”
Roby, who has refreshing honesty concerning his performance during his rookie campaign, pointed out that he has room for improvement. When asked how he would grade his rookie performance, his answer was blunt.
“C-minus,” he said. “I know C's get degrees [but] I don't think it was that good. If people think I played well last year, then I can't wait to show them what happens this year.”
Later, Roby was asked how tough it was for him going into the 2014 NFL Draft, at which point the Broncos drafted him with No. 31 overall pick, after a stellar career at Ohio State. He may have fallen in the draft because of operating a vehicle “under the influence,” as legal records attest. The Broncos were happy he fell to them.
“It was really tough,” he said. “Going on all the visits and building relationships with GM's and head coaches, I kind of knew what had happened had happened, but I didn't say anything through advice from certain people. I kind of felt like I lost their trust a little bit.”
Nevertheless, Roby kept his effusive vibe going by fielding the next question, which concerned any advice he might have for players this year that may slip in the draft because of off-the-field concerns. His reply was quixotic.
“Just stay positive,” he said. “Last year, I was debating on whether to even go to the draft. Stay positive. They have to just learn from their mistakes and learn at this level you have so many eyes on you, so you have to be careful and make great decisions.”
Roby was then asked how he would have had to perform in his rookie year to give himself an “A” or “B” grade and he stayed consistent with the technique argument.
“Just the technique-type things,” he said. “That's what I'm working on right now. I want to be perfect. I want to be one of the top guys. That's my goal. That's what I'm working to. Until I get to that, you won't hear any A-plusses or A's from me.”
He was then asked if he has a preference about working inside or outside in nickel defense situations. In staying with his humility, he replied, “It's all game plan. Fortunately last year, I was able to do both, so I got experience at both. It doesn't matter to me. However the coaches want me to play—inside or outside—I'll give it my all.”
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Roby then gave his thoughts on changes he has noticed in practices as the era of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips replaces that of Jack Del Rio’s.
“Just the different plays and the different Schemes,” he said. “The offense runs different schemes and defensively we run a different scheme. Right now, we're just trying to get the communication down and learn the defense and stuff like that. We're all trying to learn the offense and defense.”
In his last statements, which addressed the up-tempo pace of practice, previously spoken of by Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders this week, Roby again looked at the positives.
“With new coaches, players want to prove they're good players,” he said. “They're going to try and go a little bit harder. On defense, we have to remind them, 'Man you've got to chill.' Everybody is just antsy to prove themselves. It's a new year. We have a lot to prove this year. We're just hitting it hard.”
In viewing these events in real-time on Wednesday, I realized that Roby is going through a maturing process and wants to improve. If he lives according to the selflessness and humility he conveyed during his press conference, he will be a positive influence on the Broncos, both in the locker room and on the field.
It is this attitude that can perhaps lead to championship runs and may be worth an additional 2-3 wins. In the NFL, where the competition is at an exceptionally high level every week, that is worth it’s weight in gold.
In the video below, Brandon Perna answers a mailbag question regarding the possibility of Bradley Roby moving to free safety.
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