Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Odell Beckham Jr was totally going to be the choice here, but PeaceVT hates tigers. I think the Bengals would absolutely love a legit receiving threat to take some of the focus away from AJ Green. Unfortunately, OBJ and Marqise Lee were taken with the two picks immediately before the Bengals get on the clock and there just aren't a whole bunch of compelling options left. Dee Ford was a possibility or maybe Cyrus Kouandjio.
I suspect if the first 23 picks unfold like this, Cincinnati will be heavily working the phones to trade down. That said, I think they'll struggle to find any takers, so here it is, with the 24th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select Bradley Roby.
I know I'm gonna get a lot of heat for this pick given that he's not a consensus first round pick and (mostly) because I've developed a reputation as a massive OSU homer, but I think there are some solid reasons that this makes sense.
In 2012, Roby was arguably the best college corner in the country and his athleticism, ability to play both man and zone coverage and willingness to blitz and help out in run support means he has tremendous upside in the NFL.
That 10-yard dash time is a measure of the sheer explosiveness this guy has. As a result, he's very good at breaking on the ball in the air and he gets his hands on a lot of passes, but the best example of how fast he can move is the clip below:
He admittedly had a down-year in 2013 and there are definitely some deficiencies to his game - most notably a tendency to bite on double moves and inconsistent tackling form - but these are correctable issues that a good defensive coach like Marvin Lewis should be able to iron out.
When talking about Roby's 2013 season, it would be remiss of me not to tackle the Wisconsin game, the jewel in the crown for those claiming he shouldn't be drafted in the first round. OSU didn't have Roby trail receivers around the field very often, so when they had him trail Jared Abbrederis and #4 went off for 207 yards and a touchdown it doesn't look good. However, he important thing to remember here is that the Badgers had the 8th ranked rushing offense and 93rd ranked passing offense in the nation last year. As you might expect, the Ohio State game-plan was "stop the inside-zone and jet-sweep and make them to beat you through the air".
What that means is that they didn't have Roby follow Abbrederis because they were worried about his receiving threat - they did it because they were worried about James White and Melvin Gordon doing this from the opposite side:
This meant that they played a lot of zone coverage (so the CB didn't have to follow the receiver in motion) which meant Abbrederis spent the afternoon finding soft-spots between the zones and taking advantage of missed assignments by freshman safeties. That's not to say he didn't beat Roby in man coverage at all because he did (mostly on the double moves referenced earlier) but it certainly wasn't as bad as the stat-line would make it look. And if you're interested in how Roby handled the jet-sweep:
The Bengals in particular are a good situation for Roby, because they have a number of quality cornerbacks on the roster, but Terence Newman and Adam ‘Pacman' Jones are already on the wrong side of 30 and Leon Hall will reach that milestone during the 2014 season. What this means is that Roby won't be thrown into the deep end. He'll have time to work on the weaknesses of his game, learn from veterans and develop into an NFL player without the pressure of being expected to start right away. His experience on special teams should also give him the opportunity to contribute to the team immediately, even if it takes a little while for him to earn a spot in the defensive rotation.
I know lots of people think Darqueze Dennard is the better CB and, right now, he probably is, however, I think he needs to be used in an almost exclusively press-man scheme to be effective and I expect his lack of speed to be a real issue at the next level. If the Bengals needed a cornerback to start immediately, Dennard would probably be a safer pick, but they're looking for the guy who'll be better 3 years from now and I think Roby's athleticism and versatility make him more likely to be that guy.
As Daniel Jeremiah said on NFL.com, Roby is "as talented as any cornerback in this draft." Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert is the No. 1 cornerback on most analyst's lists, but it wouldn't be that big a surprise if Roby is the first corner selected."
1 Houston Texans (Imp) - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville - [Explanation]
2 St. Louis Rams (starship 007) - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson - [Explanation]
3 Jacksonville Jaguars (sports00fan00) - Jadeveon Clowney, DE, SC - [Explanation]
4 Cleveland Browns (InHinkieWeTrust) - Johnny Manziel, QB, TAMU - [Explanation]
5 Oakland Raiders (SleepingDuck) - Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo - [Explanation]
6 Atlanta Falcons (jimmyrustler) - Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn - [Explanation]
7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (AnthroEagle) - Blake Bortles, QB, UCF - [Explanation]
8 Minnesota Vikings (pot) - Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA - [Explanation]
9 Buffalo Bills (wow4444) - Jake Matthews, OT, TAMU - [Explanation]
10 Detroit Lions (kamjam) - Mike Evans, WR, TAMU - [Explanation]
11 Tennessee Titans (NowWhat?) - Justin Gilbert, CB, OK State - [Explanation]
12 New York Giants (Anthony DiBona) - Eric Ebron, TE, UNC - [Explanation]
13 St. Louis Rams (ILL Eagle) - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama - [Explanation]
14 Chicago Bears (JerkyBoy) - Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville - [Explanation]
15 Pittsburgh Steelers (KJ Brophy) - Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan - [Explanation]
16 Dallas Cowboys (Patrick Wall) - C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama - [Explanation]
17 Baltimore Ravens (rohan915) - Zack Martin, OT, ND - [Explanation]
18 New York Jets (del.champion) - Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State - [Explanation]
19 Miami Dolphins (HD) - Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh - [Explanation]
20 Arizona Cardinals (NCeagle) - Kony Ealy, DE, Mizzou - [Explanation]
21 Green Bay Packers (ablesser88) - Jimmie Ward, S, NIU - [Explanation]
22 Philadelphia Eagles (jhn) - Marqise Lee, WR, USC - [Explanation]
23 Kansas City Chiefs (PeaceVT) - Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU - [Explanation]
24 Cincinnati Bengals (deg0ey) - Bradley Roby, CB, OSU - [Explanation]
25 San Diego Chargers (StoneColeKiller58) -
26 Cleveland Browns (P_Roach17) -
27 New Orleans Saints (bebin) -
28 Carolina Panthers (MikeKafka) -
29 New England Patriots (Amateur_Hour) -
30 San Francisco 49ers (AndyMcNabb) -
31 Denver Broncos (dceagles) -
32 Seattle Seahawks (eagles0132) -