Broncos roll the dice on talented Roby

May, 9, 2014
May 9
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A Hall of Fame quarterback has now made four opening draft picks as the Denver Broncos' top football decision-maker, and all four players have come on the defensive side of the ball.

While John Elway lives and breathes the "best player available" mantra when he looks at the draft board, he put a little exclamation point on it as Thursday's first round drew to a close. With the 31st pick, Elway rolled the dice that talent and a locker room filled with players who made the Super Bowl last season would trump any concerns about Bradley Roby.

After some trades, plenty of drama, a reach or two in the picks that came before theirs, the Broncos say they were left with a draft board with one top-15 player remaining on it. And that was Roby, a player who brings questions about his maturity to go with an off-the-field scrape or two.

"Highest-ranked player left on our board by a long shot," Elway said Thursday night. "We believe he has tremendous talent and tremendous upside."

At 5-foot-11, 194 pounds, Roby has the size the Broncos want at cornerback. With a 4.39 clocking in the 40-yard dash, he has the speed everybody wants at cornerback. He's a willing tackler and he will arrive in Denver with some baggage in tow.

If the Broncos are right, they get the kind of speed, size and physicality that are a must in this era of big wide receivers. They also have the potential of Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr. and Roby in a nickel package against the bevy of three-wide receiver sets the team will face.

Add in Kayvon Webster, a physical corner the Broncos believe will be a quality man-to-man player as a potential fit in the dime, and the Broncos could have the ability to answer open formations with four cornerbacks in their defensive huddle. That kind of speed and versatility, if they all tackle in the run game, would give the Broncos options they did not have this past season.

"[Roby] was the guy who helped us the most," Elway said. "He's got all the measurable and he's got the mentality. He'll stick his nose in there in the run game. He'll tackle. He'll fit right with the defense we're putting together."

Like in any risk-reward scenario, the Broncos have to be right to get the reward. Roby had a misdemeanor arrest for a bar incident last summer. He also had a recent citation for operating a vehicle while impaired after an officer approached him in a parked car and administered field sobriety tests.

Roby has also been described as "immature" and "a little spoiled" by some scouts. For his part, Roby says he's ready to stay on the straight and narrow, but draft picks through the years have always said they were ready to be professionals right after they were selected, whether or not it really turned out that way.

"I'm not a bad guy," Roby said Thursday night.

About the arrest last summer, Roby said, "In actuality, it was not a bar fight. No punches were thrown. It was a situation where the bouncer was the aggressor against me. I just retaliated. I made a bad decision."

About the recent incident, Roby said he had fallen asleep in his car.

The Broncos have dug through all of it, with plenty of folks, including defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, talking to those who have been around Roby in his time at Ohio State. They obviously believe in their research.

In the end they drafted him because they believe to win the season's last game, their defense needed them to take that risk.

Jeff Legwold

ESPN Denver Broncos reporter

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