Bradley Roby hurt his draft stock.
That’s the general consensus that has come from fans and media alike who witnessed the fourth-year Ohio State cornerback fail to match a sensational sophomore season after opting to return to Columbus in 2013. Roby bypassed last season’s NFL Draft in favor of one last year at OSU, where he routinely gave up big plays -- including a 10-reception, 207-yard, one-touchdown performance to Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis.
But the notion that Roby is any less valuable to NFL teams now than he was a year ago may be a false one. As one NFL scout who spoke to BuckeyeSports.com on the condition of anonymity stated, the idea that players have a certain stock attached to their names is predominately untrue and is a myth that’s perpetuated by the media.
“Anybody that’s kind of issuing that stock is all media folks that aren’t drafting. For example, everybody says (Matt) Barkley last year, did he hurt his stock by not coming out the year before? Well, it was the media that made him a first round pick -- just the national writers and what not -- it wasn’t (general manager) Ryan Grigson with the Colts saying he’s the No. 1 overall pick,” the scout said. “So it’s always kind of a funny situation when people say did his stock rise or fall by not coming out, because you don’t really know because as soon as he’s not in that year’s draft he becomes immaterial. You don’t know where he would’ve fit in.”
Despite being less consistent than he was in his redshirt sophomore season, Roby still managed to deflect 13 passes and intercept three others en route to being named an All-Big Ten performer in 2013. The 5-11, 192-pounder also recorded 70 tackles and blocked two kicks, and has also been clocked at sub 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash.
Skills like that will come in handy during the combine season, which the NFL scout expects Roby to perform very well at. The Suwannee, Ga. native may not be as sexy of a pick as he appeared to be at the end of the 2012 season, but there’s still plenty of time for him to change that notion before the first day of the draft on May 8.
“He hurt his draft stock if the draft was on Dec. 1., but it’s not until May,” the scout pointed out. “He’s got dynamic skills that you don’t see a lot of people have. He’s going to be a guy that’s going to test very well, that’s going to do very well with some of that silly season stuff -- as good as anyone in the country. By the time it’s all said and done, no, I think he’ll be right where he was last year as well.”
As of now, CBSSports.com ranks Roby as the fifth cornerback in the upcoming draft and projects him to be a second round pick. That’s not far from where he was thought to stand a year ago, before he ultimately decided to come back to Columbus for a fourth season.
So how is it possible that Roby saw a decline in his productivity but not his draft stock? As the scout stated, there’s an explanation for everything, and in this case Roby just may have been too talented for his own good.
“The general scouting community understands that the situation with him is that he wasn’t the most excited guy to be back in school,” the NFL scout said. “He probably thought he could just show up and be the most talented kid in the world, which means that he wasn’t putting in a lot of extra work and all of those things.”
Whether an improved work ethic from Roby will put itself on display during the combine season remains to be seen. But his situation certainly serves as a reminder that the stock of an NFL prospect is always relative to the eye of the beholder.