Summary: Entering the 2013 season, Roby was regarded as the top draft-eligible cornerback and a potential top-10 pick. However much like David Amerson a year ago, Roby was repeatedly torched during his final season. That dropped Roby from being the consensus top-ranked cornerback.
The reason for the early projection of a high first-round pick was two excellent seasons in 2011 and 2012. The first-year starter totaled 47 tackles, four tackles for a loss, three interceptions and a forced fumble in 2011. A year later, he showed big improvement, recording 63 tackles, one sack, two tackles for a loss, 17 passes broken up and two interceptions. Roby was a fast and very instinctive play-maker for the Ohio State defense. He was constantly around the ball.
To start his final year, Roby was suspended for the Week-1 game against Buffalo because of some legal trouble in the offseason. Week 3 against California may have hurt Roby's stock even more than his off-the-field issues. He was beaten on a number of receptions, including on a touchdown. Roby dropped an interception and was nearly beaten for another touchdown, but got lucky that Golden Bears wide receiver Bryce Treggs dropped the pass.
It got worse as the season wore on. Roby was torched by Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis. Abbrederis kept the Badgers in the game as he went over 200 yards receiving, including one touchdown at Roby's expense. Abbrederis would've beaten Roby for more points, but Joel Stave couldn't get Abbrederis the ball. Stave had a terribly thrown pass intercepted by Roby. In the ground game, he had some tackles and slapped away a couple of quick slants. It was still an ugly outing as Abbrederis completely dominated Roby.
Roby was ejected against Iowa for targeting. He then had a mixed outing against Northwestern. Roby blocked a punt in the end zone for an Ohio State touchdown, but also was burned for 41-yard and 67-yard pass plays.
Late in the season. Ohio State was no longer trusting Roby to go against an opponent's No. 1 wide receiver. Roby also sat out the Buckeye's bowl loss against Clemson, but considering what Sammy Watkins did to Ohio State, maybe that was a blessing for Roby. In 2013, the junior had 62 tackles, 13 passes broken up and three interceptions.
For the NFL, Roby is a work in progress. He is fast and agile to run with receivers in and out of their breaks. He can blanket them and not allow separation. Roby has good ball skills and doesn't panic when the ball is in the air. Against receivers with size, Roby can play big and battle them. He is an instinctive corner who can play man or zone. Roby will be an asset on special teams and should produce some nice interception totals as a pro.
That being said, Roby needs to improve his game. He gets burned by double moves too often. His eye discipline also must get better. Roby has a lot of the same issues as Amerson. An elite route-runner like Abbrederis destroyed Roby, and that is going to be an issue for him until he can improve his fundamentals and technique.
However, Roby was very impressive at the Combine. He as very fast in the 40 and looked good in the field drills. WalterFootball.com spoke with sources who said that Roby has a first-round skill set and could turn into an excellent corner if he lands with good coaching.
For the NFL, Roby looks like a late first-round or early second-round pick who could become a difference-maker at corner if he lands with the right team.
Player Comparison: Leon Hall. Hall and Roby are nearly identical in their measurements. Hall (5-11, 195) is a good cover corner who can handle speed receivers and also plays big when he needs to. Hall is more disciplined and fundamentally sound than Roby. If Roby doesn't land with good coaching or is lazy, he could be a cornerback who is equivalent to say Richard Marshall.
However, if Roby lands with good coaching and works hard to get better, he could be a cornerback who is comparable to Hall. Hall was the 18th-overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Roby should go later than that, but maybe not much later.
NFL Matches: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, San Diego, Cleveland, Carolina, San Francisco, Denver, Houston, Washington, Jacksonville
There are a lot of teams that are going to target a cornerback late in the first round or early in the second round. Roby's immense skill set could cause a team in the back half of the first round to select him. Perhaps the highest he could hope to go would be to the Steelers in the middle of the first round, but that seems like a reach.
The first team that could really be a good fit for Roby is Cincinnati. The Bengals need cornerback help with Leon Hall coming off another serious injury. They also have aging veterans in Adam Jones and Terrance Newman. Roby has the potential to form a nice tandem with Dre Kirkpatrick.
The Chargers have a massive need at cornerback, and Roby should definitely be in play for San Diego. The team needs fast, athletic cornerbacks to go against Denver, and Roby could be a quick upgrade. The Chargers re-signed Richard Marshall, but they need corner help badly.
The Browns could use another corner to pair with Joe Haden. If they have Roby as the best player available, he could make sense for Cleveland with pick No. 26.
Carolina badly needs help at cornerback. The team still has to find a replacement for another former Buckeye in Chris Gamble. However, the Panthers will probably draft a wide receiver or offensive lineman.
The 49ers and Broncos could use some talented youth at corner. Each team has bigger needs, but Roby could get consideration by San Francisco or Denver.
At the top of the second round, the Texans need a nickelback after cutting Bryce McCain. They could develop Roby as the nickel, and in time, he could replace Jonathan Joseph or Kareem Jackson as a starter.
Still early in the second round, Roby could land with Washington or Jacksonville. Both could use help at corner, especially the Jaguars. Roby has enough size to fit Jacksonville's defense.