The Cincinnati Bengals will more than likely draft at least one cornerback in the first three rounds of the upcoming NFL draft. One of the decisions awaiting the front office is whether or not the age and health of the team’s current cornerback corps will force the team to draft an edge corner in the first round.
Odds are former Ohio State CB Bradley Roby will be available when the Bengals pick at #24. The debatable value of Roby as a first-round talent makes him a likelier second-round selection, but if the Bengals want Roby, the team will have to reach for him in the opening round unless the decision to trade down is made.
The allure of Roby is his athleticism and high ceiling. His potential as a NFL corner is ahead of him if he can translate his natural ability to the NFL game as an edge corner. Roby posted NFL Scouting Combine numbers (4.39 40-yard dash and 38.5-inch vertical) on par with the smaller Jason Verrett from Texas Christian. Roby is also faster than Kyle Fuller of Virginia Tech.
Among these three borderline first-round CBs who should be available when the Bengals pick at #24, Roby has the most upside as a starting NFL edge corner.
Case Against Roby
The Bengals will have to consider current CB Dre Kirkpatrick when it comes to whether or not upside or game readiness is a determining factor for first-round value. Kirkpatrick has underwhelmed since the Bengals drafted him in the first round in 2012.
Roby may be less ready to contribute from the edge right away than Fuller, who may hear his name called first. The other factor against Roby is the depth of the cornerback class in this draft. Among early-entry underclassmen like Roby, there are a few other corners with comparable upside whose draft stock is not as high as Roby’s. These less-coveted corners may present greater value later in the draft.
Given the recent success of the Bengals in the draft, the best course of action may be to draft the best available player, unless team need at corner is deemed to be so pressing that Roby emerges atop their draft board when the time to draft arrives.
Roby has his upside, but the overall concerns about his health, his attitude and the 207-yard torching that Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis applied to him last year, Roby is more likely a high-second rounder than a late first-round pick.