A lot has been made of Bradley Roby's 2013 performance, due to his 'down' year in coverage. Let's be clear, Ohio States defensive coordinator did Roby zero favors by choosing to primarily leaving him on an island this year. Roby didn't respond well. Roby certainly has all the tools, and is a great athlete. The problem is, he relies on athleticism instead of playing sound football with good technique.
The 3 biggest areas in which Roby excels is with his athleticism. Roby has all the athleticism in the world. At the NFL Combine, Roby unofficially ran 4.40, and he plays faster than that. Roby shows good lower body strength and is an above average leaper. Not only is he a great athlete, but he's a high motor player. Roby his very active not only throughout the game, but throughout the play.
Another area Roby excels is when the play is in front of him. He looks comfortable in zone, or in man coverage when the play is in front of him. In zone, he does a good job of reading the Quarterbacks eyes and recognizing where he wants to go with the pass. Roby has also showed that he understands how long to funnel the receiver in zone, then pass him along and get to the #2. He also does a good job of coming off routes, and jumping other routes for potential big plays. He's very aware in that regard. In man coverage on shorter throws, Roby shows off his change of direction skills. By in large he does a good job of putting himself in a position to make plays on the ball. Roby transitions easy on most routes, and does a good job of taking away high percentage throws.
As far as the running game goes, Roby is excellent at filling the running lanes, and being where he is supposed to be. Roby is an above-average tackler who is willing to stick his nose in there and make a play. He's constantly active in the run game. This applies to quick screens as well, as he diagnoses plays quickly, and secures the tackle.
There are two areas Roby needs to develop, his technique and his eye discipline. For the most part, Roby plays strictly like an athlete. His speed allows him to get away with a lot. He needs to refine his technique. Not just in the passing game. As active as he is in the running game, he launches himself quite a bit, causing himself to miss tackles. In coverage, Roby gets high in his backpedal, what this does his force his feet to get wide when he goes to break on the ball, making it harder to get in and out of his breaks.
His eye discipline is also a problem. Roby will get caught peeking in the backfield far too often. Instead of reading the pattern, his eyes are in the backfield and that's what gets him beat. Again, his speed helps him make up for this, but at the next level he won't be able to get away with poor technique as much as he was able to in college. These are the 2 main reasons he struggled in coverage. Though it's not a weakness, I've noticed Roby drops routine interceptions, it doesn't seem like he has good, strong hands.
I have a Fringe 1st round grade on Roby. He needs to refine his technique and stop peeking in the backfield as much as he does. He's a great athlete, but that doesn't win in the NFL, where everyone is. Still, you can't teach his tools, and even though he's lost some 50/50 balls, at least he's in a position to make a play. Then you factor in his read and react ability in the run game, how he fills the running lanes, and his instincts in zone coverage, and you see Roby is still a very good player. His coverage may have been off in 2013, but the rest of his game took a step up. If he fixes his technique, he can be great in press coverage. I feel like once Roby's role is simplified, he'll revert to the player he was a year ago. That, and he'll have help in the NFL, as it's rare to find a corner playing so much Cover 0.
Roby would be a good fit with the Chargers by adding a dimension of athleticism that just isn't there on the defensive side of the ball. His read and react skills in the running game would be a step up from the group on the field last year, and he has shown the ability to run down running backs from 20 yards away. Speed like that could be the difference of a touchdown and a field goal. In coverage, Roby would have help over the top, which leads you to believe he'll return to his 2012 year where he was arguably the best cornerback in the country.