Can be too physical with receivers and could draw flags
Durability, had two injury-plagued seasons in three years
Off the field?
Could use more functional strength
Summary: If you watch a lot of tape of the 2014 cornerbacks, you will come away thinking that Marcus Roberson is an underrated prospect and could end up being a steal for a team in the second day of the draft. You would have to go beyond the 2013 season, as a PCL strain limited Roberson throughout the year. He had only 11 tackles with three passes broken up last season. Roberson has some good tape from previous years.
As a true freshman in 2011, Roberson beat out a number of talented recruits and won a starting job at Florida. He was up to the task as he played really well and showed some natural man-cover skills when going against elite receivers in the SEC. Roberson injured his neck and missed the final three games of his first season. Still, he recorded 22 tackles and an interception.
Roberson was even better in 2012, as he excelled in man coverage and was a key part of a tough Florida defense. He totaled 23 tackles with 12 passes broken up, a forced fumble and two interceptions.
Roberson was playing well early on. In the second game, Roberson was hurting Miami before he went down with a PCL strain. Roberson came back to the lineup to go against LSU and their dynamic receivers, but he rushed back and he wasn't the same in that game as he had some issues with Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, Jr. Roberson landed a suspension late in the season and ended his time at Florida in disappointing fashion. Roberson should have returned for his senior year, but decided to enter the draft. Both Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy were outplayed last season by freshman Vernon Hargreaves III, but at least Roberson was injured and not 100 percent.
Roberson is a man cover corner. He has the ability to matchup on big receivers and smaller speed receivers in man coverage. Roberson has the size to battle large receivers and is fast enough to run with downfield targets. He has excellent feet and agility to run the route with receivers and not allow separation. Roberson never produced big statistical seasons in large part because he was so good in blanketing receivers that quarterbacks threw the ball elsewhere.
Roberson can function well as a zone corner. He covers a large amount of ground and has instincts to get in position. Roberson didn't play much zone as Florida used him predominantly as a man corner.
Roberson could use some refinement for the NFL. Early in his career, he would probably better off serving as nickel corner before being thrust into the starting lineup. Roberson also should be a contributor on special teams and could contribute as a punt returner if he isn't a starting cornerback.
Before the Combine, sources told WalterFootball.com that Roberson was grading out as a late first-round or second-round pick. After his disappointing Combine performance with a bad 40 and bench press, Roberson looks like a day two prospect.
Player Comparison: Johnathan Joseph. There are a lot of similarities between Joseph and Roberson. Both are good man corners who have the speed to prevent separation and good size to match up against bigger receivers. Joseph was the 24th-overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. Roberson was a candidate to go that high at one point, but now is more likely to be a second-day pick. Joseph has gone on to become a two-time Pro Bowler and was an All-Pro in 2011.
NFL Matches: Houston, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Carolina, San Francisco, New England, Denver
There are a lot of teams that are going to target cornerbacks in the early rounds. After Roberson's Combine performance, he's more likely to be a second-day pick rather than go in the first round.
The Texans could use a nickel back to replace Bryce McCain and could look at Roberson on the second day. His man coverage skills would be a nice fit for Romeo Crennel. Buffalo also needs a nickel back and Roberson could be a fit on the second day.
Pittsburgh has aging corners and missed Keenan Lewis last season. They need to find their long-term replacement for Ike Taylor. Roberson has the size and length that the Steelers like their corners to have. Similarly, San Francisco could use youth at corner with Carlos Rogers aging.
The biggest need on the Chargers' roster is the cornerback position. San Diego could draft multiple cornerbacks early, so Roberson would be in play on the second day.
Carolina's defense is stacked but the cornerback position is there one weakness. Landing Roberson in the second or third round would be good value for the Panthers.
New England could have a big hole at corner if Aqib Talib leaves in free agency. Being a Gator, Roberson should be the Patriots' radar.
Lastly but not least, Denver has a huge need at cornerback. Champ Bailey aging while Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is entering free agency. The Broncos need some long-term corners for Jack Del Rio's defense.
As the NFL Draft approaches, I will be making weekly adjustments up until the 27th of April. Rest of the writeups will be coming later this week. Any questions/comments/criticisms can be voiced in the comments. I will respond to all.