Hypothetical question about the 49ers’ first-round pick

If Bradley Roby hadn’t gotten cited for an OVI (Operating a vehicle while impaired) a month before the draft, do you think the 49ers would have taken him with their first round pick?

Why or why not?

FYI — the Broncos ended up drafting Roby one pick after the 49ers drafted Jimmie Ward.

This article has 135 Comments

  1. No. They saw a guy who could come in and cover the slot as their biggest need. Likely targeted Fuller, but when he went off the board too early or the cost to move up was too great they set their sites on Ward.

    1. Roby can cover the slot and he can cover outside. He would have played 100 percent of the snaps instead of the 60 percent Ward probably will play.

      1. At what point did you become such a fan of Roby? You were quite negative on him in the run up to the draft.

        1. Not a fan, but I like his pro prospects better than Ward. Ward is a better tackler than Roby, but Roby is much better in man coverage inside or outside than Ward.

        2. Grant says:

          April 9th: 4:27 PM “Roby seems to have trouble turning and finding the ball when it’s in the air, like Culliver.”

          May 12th: 6:54 PM “Such faith in Chris Culliver. Fascinating.”

          So you don’t believe Culliver can get the job done, yet you think the 49ers should have traded up in round 1 for a guy who you say has the exact same problem? Good stuff.

          1. I don’t think the 49ers should have traded up for Roby. He was available at No.30. And I think he’s a better player than Culliver. Roby is better at finding the ball in the air than Culliver is, and Roby is much better in coverage than Ward is. Roby whiffs some tackles, though.

            1. I guess you forget how you went on and on about how Roby was torched by Jared Abbrederis, a guy who wasn’t selected until the 5th round.

              Using your own comparison criteria, that must mean that Ward is better since Archer went in the 3rd round.

              1. “Ward has covered no one notable.”

                The NFL thought enough of Archer to make him pick #97, that would seem to mean he is better than Abbrederis who went #176. Again this has recently been your way of determining what teams think of players, not mine. At least be consistent.

              2. Roby had a bad game, but that doesn’t mean Ward is better than him. Roby played well against Keenan Allen. Ward never faced someone that good.

                Archer is a shrimp who may not play receiver in the pros. Ward will have to cover Larry Fitzgerald in the slot.

              3. Not back pedaling, just articulating my position to someone doing a dead-on impression of Rocket ;)

              4. It’s too bad you can’t have a debate without that kind of B.S. and contradicting yourself at almost every turn.

              5. Ha! It would be nice if you could disagree with someone without accusing them of contradicting themselves. That’s a Rocket move. You don’t want to debate Ward and Roby, so you challenge my credibility. That’s weak.

              6. You’ve already stated your dislike of Roby when you compared him to Culliver and ripped him about Abbrederis.

                To now suggest he was worth a 1st round pick is inconsistent. And as you told someone else who used to rip Smith but holds Kaepernick to a different standard, that’s weak.

                It’s not about credibility.

              7. You’re putting words in my mouth. I didn’t dislike Roby. Razor said in February that Roby was the best corner in the draft and I disagreed with that.

                I’ve always felt Roby was a borderline first-round pick and a better prospect than Ward.

              8. My bad. I don’t typically liken players that I dont think are good to those that I do.

              9. Culliver’s inability to turn and locate the deep pass is more pronounced than Roby’s. Culliver got burned over and over again in 2012. Roby got burned in one game last season. And Roby is more physical at the line of scrimmage than Culliver.

                Culliver is coming off an ACL tear, too. And he’s facing a felony charge.

                Not saying Roby would have been a great pick. But I think he would have been a better pick than Ward. I could be wrong. I understand why you and others like Ward so much.

            2. You are making it very, very easy for Jack Hammer to make you look clueless. For the record, I think Ward will be so-so, which is historically in line with most 30th overall picks. But all the same, Hammer is pretty much wrecking your arguments against Ward here.

              1. Have you actually read the exchange between Hammer and Grant?. Check out Jack’s 7:00 pm post. It was basically a misunderstanding of Grants position on Roby which he had to articulate farther to Jack. Jack seemed to understand that but it appears that you are the one that remained clueless.

                It appears too much time is spent trying to make Grant appear wrong ( utilizing debate ) rather than investigating the variables related to each threads subject. The subject was ” Did Roby’s DUI affect his draft status in respect to the 49ers which kept them from drafting him at #30. The thread almost became off topic when it began to drift towards proving Grant wrong opposed to expressing opinions about whether the DUI had an affect. That is one reason I personally dislike debate’s rather than exchanging information and perspective though the expression of our opinions. Debates often become too agenda driven at the expense of an informative conversation. Fortunately this time Hammer and Grant cleared things up. Props to both of them.

              2. I think Roby is the most talented CB in this class. If you look at his 2012 film, he’s arguably the best CB in the country at that point in time. The problem is he had an inconsistent season and was suspended for a game, and I think that really turned some teams off. I’m not sure if the OVI had anything to do with him dropping to the bottom of the first, but my guess is his play this year was a bigger factor. If he gets his head straight and learns how to focus the entire time he’s on the field, he’ll be a great player for Denver. If he continues to rely on his physical ability and doesn’t take to pro coaching, he’ll be a bust.

                Ward was a safer pick and a guy who fit what the Niners wanted at this point. He fills the biggest need they had, and is able to fill in at multiple positions if injury strikes. He is a very good talent who was always ranked as a bottom of the first – high second round guy, and I think the Niners got a heck of a football player. I don’t think it was a matter of taking him over Roby. I doubt they truly considered taking Roby at that point.

              3. Willtalk,

                It appears that Jack Hammer was being sarcastic in the post you reference. This is not meant to be insulting or anything, but based on your writing, I think it is pretty safe to assume that English is not your first language. In text form, I can certainly understand how you would think he (Jack Hammer) misunderstood Grant, but I assure you that he did not. Check Grant’s reply after that post, and you will see that Grant knew this is well.

      2. But Roby won’t move to safety (ala Ronnie Lott) when Bethea loses a step, or when some other corners can cover the slot.

      3. Grant, Roby is constantly out of position and terrible at playing the ball. Are you watching any of the same film we are?

      4. Grant both my cousin and I played corner in college so we know a little about this. Not as much as you the way you talk I’m sure you will be a head scout soon. That being said we were afraid the 49ers may pick up Roby but we should not have been he sucks over hyped and overrated. If you don’t get quick pressure he’s toast and we don’t think he is quick enough to play the slot effectively. Ward on the other hand has unbelievable ball skills from all over the field he can play in the slot and will be an awesome FS when Bethea moves on and Reid is shifted to SS. Two cover safeties Ward is so versatile he wouldn’t have lasted to the 49ers second round pick. OVI didn’t matter Roby just isn’t as good that’s why he’s not a 49er. Talk all you want about the competition faced on a weekly basis if you can play you can play bro and Ward can play. Just make sure you correct yourself when you see it at the next level but you will probably have some excuse or another player you thought was better. Your funny bro.

        1. Ward is a better tackler than Roby. But the idea that Ward will be better at covering the slot in the NFL in man coverage is a serious stretch. We’ll see what happens.

          If the 49ers really felt slot corner was their biggest need, they should have signed Walter Thurmond. He was cheap and experienced. Asking a rookie to play Nickel is asking a lot. Nickel is the toughest defensive assignment, as you and your cousin know.

    2. I agree the 49ers would have had Ward rated more highly than Roby regardless. But then I’ve been really high on Ward for awhile.

      Not sure why Grant doesn’t rate his pro prospects. He was one of the best coverage guys in the draft this year, regardless of position.

      I still think they were after Beckham as their #1 trade up option though. I know a few people like to dismiss it as Baalke-speak, but Baalke confirmed they were interested in him. And when they didn’t get him in the first they went and got Stevie Johnson to be the #3 WR this year. They’ve been trying to get a good #3 WR all off-season. Fuller was their second option in my opinion.

        1. Not in 2013 he wasn’t. He has better recovery speed. That’s all.

          Ward is much better in terms of understanding and reading the offense, being in the right spot, mirroring his receiver, and making plays on the ball. Also a better form tackler.

            1. Ward was reportedly the best cover DB at the Senior Bowl, while Roby got destroyed by a 5th rounder.

            2. You and I are clearly watching different film.

              The only knock you can possibly have on Ward is that he played in the MAC. Baalke is right when he says he has no bad film.

              Out of curiosity, who was the best WR Dennard faced? Latimer is one, anyone else of note?

              1. I don’t know what you think you’re seeing. I’m watching the same stuff. It’s not close. Find one draft guru who thinks Ward is better at man coverage than Roby.

              2. “Find one draft guru who thinks Ward is better at man coverage than Roby.”

                Find one that thinks Roby is better than Ward. I’ve not seen anyone compare the two.

                I said before the draft Roby has great athletic talent but poor football IQ. His speed was usually able to bail him out in college, but he won’t have the same latitude in the NFL. He gets himself out of position too often.

              3. What would Roby have ranked on their final board if he hadn’t gotten cited for OVI?

              4. I’m pretty sure Ward was ahead of Roby on their Big Board prior to the OVI.

                Ward is a guy that steadily moved up draft boards ever since the Senior Bowl. Roby fluctuated around a lot, but generally went down not up the closer it got to the draft. Roby started high based on reputation, but when you watch his 2013 film you see a guy that struggled to put it together most of the year. He’s a high potential upside kind of guy, but as you know I prefer to take guys in the first round that are not only good athletes but also display good football IQ and instincts. Ward ticks those boxes for me.

              5. We will see who gets more out of their 2014 first rounder, the 49ers or the Broncos. Both teams are in win-now mode, and both teams had similar needs. You could easily argue the 49ers would be better off had they drafted the top two players the Broncos drafted — Roby and Lattimer.

              6. How would the 49ers be better off with Roby playing CB instead of Culliver? Do you honestly think he’d be a better option? That he would play ahead of Culliver?

                Would Roby play the slot ahead of Wright or Cox? He didn’t do much work in the slot in college.

                And is Latimer a better option than Johnson as a rookie? I like Latimer, and I know the Broncos have said all the right things about how he’s going to come in and compete to be a starter, but he’s still pretty raw. I’d be surprised if he’s in the top 3 WRs at the Broncos this season, and I don’t think he’d be a better option than Johnson as the #3 WR for the 49ers this year.

              7. Lattimer stretches the field and Emmanuel Sanders doesn’t. Stevie Johnson doesn’t.

                Yes, I think the 49ers would be better off with Roby as opposed to Culliver. We will see who plays better next season.

              8. “Lattimer stretches the field and Emmanuel Sanders doesn’t. Stevie Johnson doesn’t.”

                But Vernon Davis does, and he has shown the ability to do it from anywhere in the formation.

              9. He beat a bad cornerback deep on the outside last season — Jerraud Powers. But Vernon Davis is not a good matchup against a good cornerback outside.

              10. It was actually their safety, Bell I believe.

                Inside or outside he’s their home run threat.

                With Crabtree, Boldin, Smith and Davis on the field together you will either get one of them matched up with a safety or a soft box. That’s a much better group than they had at any point last year.

                Now they need to win their matchups and the quarterback needs to make the right read.

              11. “Lattimer stretches the field and Emmanuel Sanders doesn’t.”

                Won’t be stretching the field from the sidelines. They didn’t sign Sanders just to sit him. The two Thomas’ are the field stretchers for the Broncos.

                Since you love to discuss how people go against ‘top’ competition, how did Latimer go against Michigan State (Dennard) and Ohio State (your new fave Roby) last year? What was his average yards per reception in those games? Below 10 yards per catch?

                Roby, like Gilbert, will be picked on this year if he is asked to start.

            3. Well then you have something in common with him you write like a nobody! Lol! You sound like a moron with replies like that. You sound so bitter is it because the 49ers have never respected your father? Listen to the dumb questions he asks in press conferences. He acts like he knows more than the coaches. SMH. You mirror your father in so many ways and that’s not a compliment. Grant this isn’t personal just talking professionally about the way you two do your job I’m sure your great people in your private lives but your hypocrites when it comes to your job and your articles show you two to be fools professionally. It reads like you hate the Bay Area teams even when they have success that’s sad. Try reporting facts in stories rather than your uniformed irrelevant opinions. If your just trying to get a rise out of people keep it up but that’s not real journalism. You and your dad remind me of that caller on KNBR salty balty always negative. Are you a Hawks troll in disguise? Weren’t we suppose to get torched by Harvin the Rams and the Cards last year because we didn’t get a slot corner in the draft??? Did that ever happen??? Hmmm. How many times did you say that last year? You praise the Hawks for getting Richardson in the 2nd when he should have gone way later but we got Ellington in the 4th and with your logic Colorado played against nobody while Bruce played in the SEC you should be happy Bruce played real competition. Speaking of which Roby played on the same team as Hyde who ran against real competition according to you but he can’t play because the backs that come out of the Big Ten are never any good right? Like I said hypocrite. Yeah you really know what your talking about. I think I will roll with the 49ers better track 2012 draft not withstanding. Lol. At least they get rid of their mistakes when they can’t play you can’t write and we are stuck with you. Lol!

        2. Roby is a CB, Ward is a Safety. You can’t compare the two in outside coverage. If the argument is would I rather have Ward at Safety and in Nickel slot coverage OR Roby on the outside, I’d take Ward every time. I dislike Roby’s inability to make positive plays for his team despite his obvious physical gifts.

        1. Grant: Why is this site set up so that when one responds to a post it sometimes appears some twenty posts later. Then that post doesn’t make any sense. Seems like this entire site revolves around miscommunication.

    3. Hammer – Why the new avatar?….I know that new guy (49erface) wanted your old one but he’s a junior blogger bro.

      1. It’s cool Crab. This one is pretty clean and if he doesn’t come around much I’ll probably switch it back at some point.

        You’re not around the fires down there are you?

  2. Maybe not worth the risk. There are too many head cases including me avatar.

  3. I believe if they had him graded as first round talent they would have used the pick on him. I think the Bears spoiled quite few teams plans that day.

  4. Simple answer, no. If you really think Roby blowing a .008 pushed him down anyone’s board, even the 49ers, you’re kidding yourself. Roby has a lot of potential but they want to win now and Roby would be a liability in coverage in a way that Ward isn’t.

      1. Roby is athletic but his footwork is a mess and the NFL receivers are going to give him fits if he doesn’t fix it. That is why he got burned most of this past season, and why Abbrederis had a field day. Roby can’t really play the role Ward will fill in the 49ers nickel package and so he’d either have to start outside, which makes him a bigger liability, or goes in nickel which I don’t think he can play with his sloppy footwork at this stage. Which is why I think Ward is less of a liability and more of an asset.

  5. I think the Ward pick is Baalke addressing two needs in one — nickel corner and Bethea’s replacement. It’s creative. Develop a nickel corner like Reaser and in two years, move Ward to FS and Reid, if he’s still playing, to SS. As far as outside corner is concerned, I am speculating that TB’s plan is to replace Culliver with someone in the mold of Cook.

        1. He could legally put on 10 pounds of muscle in one year. What’s your point? Have you ever done Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwan Karate? When you strike, you’re trained to project through the target. For instance, breaking boards or cinder blocks. This is the way Jimmie Mack hits. He hits through the opponent and they go down….

            1. The fourth round picks won’t contribute right away but they have a lot of potential.

              1. But can the 49ers afford to waste roster spots on developmental players until they reach their potential? Doesn’t seem the case. And can they get them through waivers to their practice/developmental squad. Probably not. While there may be exceptions, I feel that most picks in the later rounds will end up being wasted picks and on the whole not worth the trade off of their other potential use’s.

              2. Sure they can. The main thing is the 46 man game day roster. If that’s strong you can take a couple developmental guys at the end of the 53.

                The 49ers have done a good job of doing that since Baalke took over. Ian Williams is a prime example. He sat at the bottom of the 53 for 2 years, and in year 3 was the opening day starter.

            1. LMJ has squandered his opportunities and unless he elevates his game, his career as a 49er could be in real jeopardy…..

              1. From what I understand LMJ worked during the off season to add weight so that he would be more effective between the tackles. It didn’t seem to make him stronger but rather appeared to diminish his speed. The problem as I see it is that people seem to think that there is a standard relationship between more weight ( muscle) and strength. While generally that might be true it isn’t always true. Sometime an individual has a lower strength top end and is already maxed out so that adding muscle wouldn’t necessarily add relative strength. Every person is different with variable top ends and trade offs between mass and speed. That was one of the mistakes they made with AJ. They thought they could fix his lack of strength by adding muscle not realizing how low his top end really was. Strength is not necessarily tied to muscle mass. Razor– You sort of touched upon that when you referred to Mack’s drawing upon his inner Chi when he hits.

          1. 10 lbs or 15 lbs. I don’t worry about that too much with Ward. Football is all about leverage and footwork, and Ward does a very good job of using both to his advantage.

            1. He won’t hold up physically playing strong safety in the NFL at 193 pounds. If he gains some muscle he should be fine at safety.

              1. That’s only if he is taking a lot of hard hits. When I watch him play he seems to do a very good job of holding up at the point of attack without taking a crunching blow.

              2. Ward rarely takes guys on high. He’s already close to the ground to start with.

              3. I’m very confident that it will translate well. I haven’t found anything to show me otherwise.

              4. He has terrific game tape, I agree. But aside from a couple of snaps against Kelvin Benjamin, Ward never covered a first or second-round pick. That doesn’t mean he can’t cover top talent in the slot, but he hasn’t done it.

              5. That sounds like a good estimate, unless you look at what the Browns have done at 22 recently.

        2. Ward measured out at the same size as 2nd Team All-Pro FS Devin McCourty of the Pats at his combine. 5’11”, 193 lbs. And they have nearly identical skillsets.

          1. Eric Reid plays free safety for the 49ers. They will not move him to strong safety to accommodate Ward.

            1. Agree with you there. The talk of moving Reid to SS really should stop. He’s a natural fit for the 49ers FS role. Not a good fit for the SS role which typically plays closer to the line and plays more man coverage.

              1. the strong safety will only go play man if he reads a vertical route that attacks the seam. If he reads that the receiver will go horizontal, he will pass off the receiver/TE to a linebacker and drop down to cover the flat and further stuff the box…..hence my comment to Grant below about weather or not man coverage skills were the most important skill the Niners were looking for. Often times the slot corner will have to make similar reads that the SS would on other side of a formation.

              2. Man coverage definitely is the most important ability an NFL slot corner should have. Tackling is secondary.

              3. Yes, that is my understanding too affp.

                That is why I don’t see Reid as that great a fit for the SS role though. He’s better playing deep and coming up to make the play than playing closer to the line and covering a short zone or turning with a receiver to cover them in man – his lateral movement isn’t his strength.

              4. well, the Niners like versatility. There are times when the Reid had to come down and Whitner had to play the deep middle. Usually teams line up with the strong side on the offense’s right side but sometimes they flip it. The Niners like to have mirror safeties and linebackers. They’re not identical mirror images of each other. Obviously Whitner was the better in the box safety and Reid played better deep as well as Willis and Bowman have their specialties as well. But they will flip roles from time to time.

              5. Not arguing that affp – I realise the system calls for the FS and SS to have the flexibility to switch on occasion. Reid can do the job in a pinch, but I don’t think having him playing the SS role primarily is a good idea.

  6. You’re assuming playing man coverage is the primary pre-requisite for the position. Also you still have failed to acknowledge the Niners likely desire to provide a versatile “big nickel” player. With Ward as opposed to typical cover coner, you have a run stuffing tackler and a possible blitzer.

  7. In my opinion, balkee never intended on trading up, not even for fuller. He got his guys in round 1 and 2. A guy that would not have let a 40 yd td in the air beat him, like Carlos Rodgers did, alot. And a big back that will run with force and put fear in ppl. He gave the offense and defense a new toy. This hang up you have on our 1st round picks get rridiculous. Aj was aj. He was given a chance, and “HE” blew it. Ward will work out great. The slot was our biggest problem, not our outside guys.

  8. This post reminded me of another reason that 49ers had a good draft. I forgot to put this one on the long list.
    They drafted only one head case in all 12 picks. Ironically the one who could be a pick for Aldon if he keeps dropping bombs in the wrong place. Could have drafted two head cases with Lynch plus Roby.

  9. NOT.
    My answer to a Fox news type of question (leaving out most of the story to make some sort of point). Roby had problems a plenty before the drunk driving incident. he had a suspension, an ejection and his play was inconsistent.
    Then he goes and gets driving under the influence a month before the draft?! That is a guy with his head somewhere other than in his potential lucrative career.

    1. Lott was a top ten pick and an All Pro outside cornerback before he switched to safety.

      1. Hmmm …. I guess you are not aware of how far back I go with the Niners when offering up a101 history lesson on the RLno less.
        Not sure what your point is either. Mine is that this guy has some similarities in his hard tackling, his ball hawking and his attitude. Historical similarities were not the point.

  10. What’s silly about this question is Ward can contribute in big nickel in a way that helps the 49ers way more than whatever role Roby would have. If Roby was picked and started either outside or in the slot, how much faith could they possibly have in the guy who got picked on last year by QBs and burned repeatedly by Abbrederis who ended up being a 5th round compensatory selection? If Roby can’t cover Abbrederis what hope does he have of covering the better slot receivers in the NFL? Because the NFC is littered with them with Cruz, Cobb, Harvin, D-jax, and potentially Cooks and Austin. You take Roby to develop due to his great athleticism, not for an instant impact.

    1. Exactly tkamb – Roby and Gilbert have great athletic ability and potential but I expect both guys to struggle this season.

      1. Yeah and while I understand why the Browns are willing to take some bad games from Gilbert as they are still probably a year away, I’m a little skeptical of the Broncos move and I think the Broncos secondary actually got worse against the pass this offseason. TJ Ward isn’t a cover safety, Talib is inconsistent, Chris Harris is coming off an ACL tear, and we’ve talked about Roby. Talib was a much talked about signing but DRC had a great year last year and I’m not sure I’d count it as an upgrade going from DRC to Talib. Of course some of their success depends on if Ware/Miller can stay healthy and bring the pass rush but again another question mark. I think there is a higher chance than people think that the Broncos take a step back this year.

        1. Not to mention the Broncos are reliant on Manning. The AFC West plays the NFC West this season. Odds are good the Broncos OL gets dominated by the NFC West DLs. Will Manning even play a full season?

  11. A less talked about reason that the Ward pick was the right move is that Reid is coming off two concussions last year, not pleasant to think about but another major concussion and his NFL future could come into doubt.

    1. Bingo, tkamB! Baalke gets his slot cover and a backup for Reid, for the reason you state, all in the same pick. I might be wrong about the SS issue, but getting a suitable backup for Reid was a big issue I don’t recall any of the draft experts ever mentioning.

      Who loves ya, baby!

    1. Just watched that twice and it looks like Roby is covering Bryce Treggs most of the time on pass plays.

      1. And in 2013 Treggs beats him for a nice fade pattern TD where Roby is completely turned around. I believe the other long TD was also against Roby in coverage

  12. Nope.

    Harbaugh, Baalke & the guys saw what everyone in Columbus saw last year: a great athlete, not a good cornerback. Off-field issues aside (and yeah, there are plenty) he just doesn’t have the football IQ, awareness, coverage skills, or the work ethic to succeed in this league. And if he doesn’t grow up and get his head on straight, he will be Ahmad Carroll 2.0, no doubt.

    As far as the OVI dropping his stock prior to the draft, the 49ers have proven they don’t give a hoot about off-the-field issues. They will draft whoever they want, character concerns or not.

    1. As far as the Ahmad Carroll reference, look him up. The similarities between them are unreal.

    2. I highly doubt the Broncos would have drafted Ward over Roby. They need a slot corner and an outside guy just like the 49ers.

      1. They don’t need a slot guy if Chris Harris is healthy as he is one of the best slot corners in the NFL and it sounds like he is doing well in his rehab. Definitely need another guy outside though.

          1. Partial tear though, and it sounds like he’ll be ready to start the season. Not to say they don’t need insurance in case of a setback but I don’t think the Broncos are counting on Roby to be their slot corner.

  13. I wonder the role, if any, the fact that Roby played boundary corner at Ohio State played in the 49ers evaluation and grading of him.

        1. That’s true. It also seems like he tackles with his eyes closed. I’m not a huge fan. But I’m not a huge fan of Ward, either.

      1. From a Bucky Brooks nfl.com piece back in the fall:

        “The evaluation of cornerback is becoming more difficult with more college teams designating a “boundary corner” and “field corner” in their schemes. NFL coaches and scouts are being challenged to abandon their conventional thoughts when looking at college corners on tape. In previous years, college coaches would routinely place their top corner to field because the No.1 cover man possesses the speed, quickness and instincts to cover a wider area without help from the safety. Teams would lock the field corner in man coverage or some variation of man-to-man and roll the safety over the top of the weak-side or “boundary” corner to provide him with additional help. With most teams lacking two quality cover guys on the outside, this strategy would allow teams to protect an inferior cornerback in coverage.

        This tactic, however, is changing across the college landscape with more teams assigning their No.1 cornerback to play the boundary position. The proliferation of the spread offense has resulted in more offenses using three- and four-receiver sets, with many featuring a variety of 3×1 formations with the No.1 receiver on the backside. Due to the challenge of matching up with three receivers on the strong side, the offense is able to create one-on-one situations with their top receiver on the backside. To counter these tactics, some college teams are placing their top guy into the boundary and rolling the coverage to the field side. Additionally, teams are also placing their most physical cornerback into the boundary to bolster the run defense, while also giving the defensive coordinator the flexibility to use some cornerback blitzes.

        When I talked to an NFC Scout about the changing landscape regarding the deployment of top cornerbacks, he told me that he has to spend more time asking defensive coaches why they align their cornerbacks to the boundary or the field. He went on to tell me that evaluators must develop a “better understanding of schemes” to truly assess a prospect’s potential as a future starter. An AFC Scout talked at length about how the “boundary” corner designation partially clouded his evaluation on players like Xavier Rhodes and Dee Millner because they spent a ton of time playing into the short side of the field.

        With the pro game played primarily in the middle of the field due to the placement of the NFL hash marks, scouts must be able to determine if a top corner can play effectively in space without assistance from a safety. As more college teams tuck away their top corner into the boundary, that evaluation will be a tricky one going forward.”

        1. Very interesting. Rhodes had a good rookie year and Milliner did not.

          I have a feeling Ohio State rolled coverage away from Roby, which is why he played so far off his man sometimes.

          1. Most likely. We would need to see the coaches film to really get a better feel if we are right in that thinking.

            I thought the Brooks piece did a nice job of highlighting how tough it could be for the scouts based only on film work. Very similar situation with the QB’s now with the increase of the dink and dunk spread offenses.

            1. Yeah, that’s an interesting dilemma. I’d imagine Ha-Ha Clinton Dix helped Milliner quite a bit.

  14. Part of the reason Roby had a down year was because they used him in more zone coverages. That’s not his forte. Mano y mano is his game. Roby is also best friends with Steve Atwaters’ son, and John Elway said afterward that the Bronco Hitman smiled while giving his endorsement of the pick…..

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