Panthers Hope to Land CB Bradley Roby in 2nd Rd

Early Panthers’ draft chatter has focused mostly on drafting a wide receiver in the 1st rd and an offensive tackle in the 2nd.  It wasn’t until this week that murmurs Carolina could take a cornerback in the 1st or 2nd rounds emerged.  These murmurs are mostly just fan speculation, but that is enough to get me excited about the potential addition of Bradley Roby. Roby would be a steal if he slipped to the 2nd rd and was still on the board when the Panthers came up at #60.  While it’s unlikely he will fall that far, one mock draft has it happening. It may even be worth it for the Panthers to consider trading up a few positions in the 2nd rd to have a better chance of landing Roby.  It would be worth it and probably cost less than you would expect.

Roby ended his 2012 sophomore year with many thinking he was the top corner prospect in college football.  Off the field troubles, resulting in a one game suspension, and a rocky 2014 start caused Roby’s stock to fall. It was Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis’s 10 catch, 207 yard performance, and a TD against Roby that caused his stock to plummet though. That was the second time in a troubled season start that Roby had been exposed by good, but not great, receivers.  Then again, Roby had another tough outing against Northwestern’s Rashad Lawrence, who racked up 149 yards on eight catches.

Roby struggled against the top talents that everyone thought he should shut down.  Analysts became critical, stating:

“The cornerback has been playing too soft on receivers, who are then capitalizing on the cushion they are being given for some big-time gains through the air. Since this is typically due to the pre-snap alignment of the junior defender, one would assume that this fault is on the coaching staff. When watching games, it is impossible not to notice the overall lack of aggression the defense exhibits.”

The fans were even less forgiving, piling on Roby in comments in sections throughout the net. Fan criticisms turned bitter at the end when some fans accused that Roby intentionally sat out the Orange Bowl to avoid Sammy Watkins in hopes of preserving what draft status he had recovered. Character questions, once again, continued to surround the Ohio star.  Ohio fans alluded that Roby was a soft.  Roby took this personally, striking back on Twitter stating, “The fact that people Tweeting at me sayin’ all this negativity is crazy to me. It makes me ashamed to even have played for y’all.”

This outburst may highlight the one thing that may allow Carolina to steal him in the second—maturity.

Roby admitted this as the most important part of his game that he needed to improve, stating that his return for a junior season, despite the rough start, was helpful in improving his “mindset.”  This was the focus throughout for the struggling corner.  He may have thought this partly behind him at one point when he stated:

"I'm just concentrating on doing my job and making plays for my teammates. Once you change your mindset from trying to please scouts, fans, other people to just making plays for your teammates and doing your job, that's when it all shifts.

That's when I got back to how I normally play."

One thing can be for certain, Sammy Watkins didn’t sit out the Orange Bowl. No, no…he ate it up.  Watkins dominance hopefully will help reinforce this idea that Roby was worried about his image going into the draft in the minds of NFL GMs.  If he slips, it will be to the Panthers benefit.

Roby shows great promise despite his 2013 troubles.  The 5’11, 192lbs corner has good size and amazing speed.  Word around Ohio is that Roby once ran a 4.26/40yd and consistently runs 4.3 speed in practice.  This is the type of speed can’t be taught and would allow Roby compete with speedy wide-outs like Mike Wallace, who torched the Panthers secondary in 2013. He has great ball skills and instincts, and isn’t afraid to jump a route, step up in rush coverage, or layout a big boy.

The great news is that Roby has a lot of room to improve, but demonstrates the talent to become a top NFL corner. He has the one thing you can’t teach—speed. He had a humbling last year in Ohio that I think will pay dividends in the NFL also. Roby has seen how the hype can dissipate quickly.  He has already been introduced to the idea that people’s views of a player’s potential and value hinges only on what they did in the last game.  This should serve as motivation for the young man.

Roby is mocked to be drafted in the mid-2nd round.  Most likely, Roby will go earlier than #60 overall. It would be ideal to grab him at #60, but the Panthers may need to move up a few spots in the 2nd round to land the young talent. Perhaps by trading their 1st round pick for an additional 2nd rd pick and 4th rd pick, Gettleman could get it done and address needs at WR, CB, and OT.

I know this is a bit hopeful, but that’s what so wonderful about draft speculation.