Breakdown: Bills Select Ronald Darby

Everything you need to know about the Buffalo Bills’ second-round selection of cornerback Ronald Darby out of Florida State from Scout's college and pro football experts.

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Nate Orchard
Utah / 6'3 / 250 lbs
  • OLB
  • [2] #19


Orchard played in 50 games, starting three dozen times. He posted impressive numbers, finishing with 186 tackles, 25 sacks, and 39.5 tackles for a loss. He also caused eight fumbles. This past season he led the nation in sacks with 18.5 This is the same three-star prospect that showed up on Utah’s campus as a 190-pound recruit. Orchard plays fast and hard on every single down, always giving great effort. Now 6-foot-3, 250-pounds, he’s being looked at as a defensive end in a 4-3 or outside linebacker in a 3-4. He can rush with speed, power or an array of moves or techniques.

Dave-Te' Thomas Player Evaluation

Report from NFL Scouting Services' Dave-Te' Thomas:

Ronald Darby became a full-time starter in 2014 after Lamarcus Joyner left for the NFL. Rated the best cornerback in the nation coming out of high school, he joined All-American P.J. Williams in giving the Seminoles an elite corner tandem. Cleared of his involvement in the Jameis Winston alleged sexual assault case, the 2012 ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year managed just 14 tackles last season, but picked off two balls and deflected eight others.

In 2014, he has improved his tackling ability, posting 43 hits, but all four of his pass deflections were likely interceptions if he did not have that big liability – a lack of focus that leads to costly mistakes on the field. He also allowed four touchdowns and 51 receptions for 695 yards, including seeing Louisville’s DeVante Parker amass 214 yards via eight grabs vs. the Seminoles in 2014.

Darby has the athleticism to excel at staying tight on the hip of the receiver. He is just not quick to recognize the play developing, and like most young cornerbacks he will eye the quarterback long. Rather than use his hand-eye coordination to mirror his coverage assignment throughout the route, he allows too much cushion, preferring to gamble on the ball than make the safe tackle.

Darby has that sudden burst to recover when a receiver manages to slip past him on crossing routes, though. He shows loose hips coming out of his breaks cleanly and has quick change-of-direction agility to maintain his timed speed without having to throttle down. He can get too aggressive in attempts to jam and reroute, needing to do a better job of taking arm swipes to prevent from getting knocked off-balance or losing a step when trying to get back into the play.

While he gets a good break on the ball, he needs to demonstrate better anticipation on combo routes. He will sometimes get too aggressive, causing him to lose relationship with his coverage assignment. His inconsistency in staying disciplined vs. combo routes is because of the way he eyes the ball in that coverage (does not see the route develop at times). He does show the ability to sink under deep throws, but needs to show a little more patience.

Darby can break and make plays on the ball in front of him, but struggles quite a bit reacting and anticipating on combo routes. He has a very quick plant-and-drive step closing on the receiver and can be explosive doing this. He has made good strides improving his timing, but his adequate hand-eye coordination is evident on deep routes. He just seems to rely more on his closing burst to get to the reception point on deep throws.

While he can track the ball over his shoulder, Darby has marginal hands (two interceptions in 42 games). He struggles to reach and pluck for the ball, preferring to let it absorb into his body. He looks like he can catch the ball well in practice, yet when in the line of combat he tends to lose concentration and will bobble it. He delivers decent pop behind his hits but needs to greatly improve his strength (12 reps in the 225-pound bench press).

It is not like he is afraid to tackle, but he is also not the type that will sacrifice and do anything he can to get the ball carrier to the ground. He is really not a striker, but when you see his athletic build, you wonder why he does not square up and “put his hat” on the opponent.

Darby shows adequate field intelligence. He still struggles with combo routes and needs to do a better job of anticipating the quarterback when working in the deep zone. He has no problems carrying out assignments in front of him, but you just wonder if he has that instinctive nature and also the ability to deal with the mental aspects of the game at the next level.

Ronald Darby Scouting Combine measurables

5-11/193 (4.38 forty)
31 3/8-inch arm length
8 5/8-inch hands
12-reps bench 41 1/2-inch vertical jump
10-foot-9 broad jump
6.94 3 cone drill
4.14 20 yard shuttle
No 60 yard shuttle

Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.


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