Born in Ft. Worth, Texas, Bradley Roby grew up in Suwanee, Georgia, playing his High School ball at Peachtree Ridge. During his senior year, Roby played wide receiver and defensive back, earning All-State honors on the offensive side of the ball. As a defender, he racked up 42 tackles and 6 interceptions his senior season. When he wasn’t playing football, he was winning track meets in the 100 and 200-meter competitions.
Recruited to Ohio State, Roby went on to be the only defensive player in the nation to score touchdowns 3 ways, recovering a muffed punt in the end zone against the Miami Hurricanes, then a blocked punt against the Indiana Hoosiers and a pick-6 against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
That kind of hustle and ball hawking got the attention of many NFL scouts. The following year, his final in NCAA ball, brought with it 69 tackles, 16 passes defensed, 3 interceptions and 2 punt blocks.
Roby, originally predicted to go in the 1st or 2nd rounds, ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, earning a “4th best cornerback” ranking by then NFL draft expert (now Oakland Raider GM) Mike Mayock.
When comparing the top four corners, Mayock had this to say:
Gilbert and Roby are the two most gifted corners (in the draft). They’re faster. They have looser hips and slightly better movement skills. To get technical, they both lack eye discipline. I was a defensive back, and it’s the most important thing a d-back can have. You can learn it. You can be taught it. But they both get beat deep too often because they lack the eye discipline. I get concerned and nervous at the next level (with) whether or not they’re going to be more consistent. Most of the GMs have those two rated higher (Gilbert and Roby). Most of the coaches like the other two (Fuller and Dennard).
Leading up to the draft, it seemed a sure thing that the San Diego Chargers or Cincinnati Bengals would take Roby, but San Diego took Jason Verrett and the Bengals opted for Darqueze Dennard. When it looked like Roby might tumble into the 2nd round, John Fox, John Elway and the Denver Broncos turned in their card and with the 31st pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the Broncos took Bradley Roby.
Later, coach Fox was quoted saying he believed Roby’s character concerns are what held him back from being taken ahead of Verrett and Dennard. As it sits right now, it would appear the Bengals took the wrong player. Dennard has played in 68 games, started only 19, recorded 3 interceptions and amassed 227 tackles. Meanwhile, Roby has played in 79 games, started 29 of them, notched 7 interceptions, landed 238 tackles and recovered 4 fumbles to Dennard’s 1.
Jason Verrett has only played in 25 games, had 5 picks and racked up 80 tackles. Looks like Mayock, the Chargers and Bengals all got that wrong, as often happens in pre-draft analysis.
Most importantly from Houston’s point of view, Roby has played in 64 consecutive games, not missing a snap when he was in the formation in 4 years.
In what can most easily be summarized as a trade-by-free-agent-signings, The Houston Texans and Denver Broncos essentially swapped cornerbacks this off-season when former H-Town corner Kareem Jackson left for the Mile High City and Roby came home to Texas.
While Houston failed to even make an offer to Jackson, they agreed to a 1-year, $10 million with Roby.
Through 2 preseason games, it would appear Houston did right by this “trade”.
While Roby did get beat twice by journeyman quarterback DeShone Kizer, further inspection of each play shows that Kizer put the ball in a perfect place to prevent Roby from stopping them. While that’s no excuse in the NFL, every corner gets beat by great passes.
Oddly enough, many around H-Town, including several on BRB’s masthead hoped Houston would draft Kizer prior to the trade for Deshaun Watson (since it was expected Watson would be long gone before Houston could turn in a pick), particularly due to Kizer’s ball placement.
Against the Lions last week, Roby’s best highlight was a textbook perfect pass defense, where he smothered the receiver, watching his eyes, then turned at the last possible instant, placing his hand between the receiver’s and blocking the catch. While Lions QB Josh Johnson is no Deshone Kizer (or even worthy of inclusion in the list of great signal callers the Texans will face this season in Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes, Phillip Rivers, Tom Brady and Andrew Luck), the blanket coverage by Roby will certainly lead to turnover opportunities and coverage sacks for the Houston defense.
Lining up alongside Jonathan Joseph, Justin Reid (another player to watch) and Tashaun Gipson behind the Texans formidable front 7 should make Roby’s life easier as well. So, keep your eyes on this guy - he might very well be the steal of Houston’s offseason.
What do you think? Did the Texans strike gold with Roby like they did with Jonathan Joseph? Or is he another in the long list of potential-greats-turned-flop-free-agents ala Ed Reed?
Give us your take in the comments box.