Ohio State defensive back Bradley Roby speaks to the media during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadum in Indianapolis. (Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports)
The NFL Combine isn’t always a make-or-break moment for prospects, but it can be.
Some struggle and some shine under the intense scrutiny of questions, tests and workouts in front of their future professional football employers. There was a lot of money to be made, or lost, at the annual showcase this week in Indianapolis.
Jared Cook is the one Gwinnett product who comes to mind regarding the NFL Combine after his monster performance in 2009. The North Gwinnett grad ran the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds, had a combine-best 41-inch vertical leap and solidified himself as a top draft prospect.
Add another player to that list after this week.
Peachtree Ridge’s Bradley Roby, a top cornerback prospect out of Ohio State, was one of the rising stars at the combine. He ran the 40 in 4.39 seconds, fourth-fastest among defensive backs, tied for sixth in vertical (38.5) and tied for 11th in the broad jump (124 inches).
The 5-foot-11, 194-pounder, who may have elevated himself into the first round of May’s NFL Draft, was asked this week if he can be a shutdown corner in the NFL.
“Yes, definitely,” Roby answered.
But there were, and still are, some non-believers in Roby’s future. A quick online search produces various reports of how he is puzzling to NFL scouts because of his vast talents mixed with questions about his work ethic and supposed drop-off in 2013, his redshirt junior season.
Because he redshirted, Roby could have turned pro after 2012, when he was a second-team All-American and pretty much a first-round lock. The playmaker came back last season with mixed results, though.
He was part of a summer altercation outside an Indiana bar (the charges were later dismissed) and suspended for Ohio State’s season opener. He took some shots for his play during the season, but still topped his 2012 numbers with 69 tackles and three interceptions. His hectic season even ended poorly, a knee injury sidelined him for the finish of a Big Ten title game loss to Michigan State and an Orange Bowl loss to Clemson.
Those reports left some doubts heading into the NFL Combine, but Roby did his best to answer them with a brilliant on-field performance. Now it’s up to NFL teams, who hopefully will look past their doubts and see what they have in Roby — a physical tackler who is speedy, smooth in coverage and has a knack for making big plays.
Roby was the headliner of three Gwinnett grads in Indianapolis this week.
North Gwinnett’s Ja’Wuan James went through the full gamut of combine testing with solid results. The offensive tackle ran the 40 in 5.34 seconds, did 22 repetitions of the 225-pound bench press and had a 29-inch vertical, and also did the 20-yard shuttle, three-cone shuttle and broad jump.
The 6-6, 311-pounder’s showing adds to a resumé that includes 49 career starts, the most ever by a Tennessee offensive lineman.
Alabama’s Adrian Hubbard, who played at Norcross and Peachtree Ridge as a high-schooler, also went through combine testing. He ran the 40 in 4.69 seconds, had a 38.5 vertical and had a 117-inch broad jump. The raw talent shows why Hubbard, who is 6-6 and 257 pounds, is an intriguing prospect as a 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker.
All three Gwinnett products showed well for their home county this week, trending more toward shining than struggling in a stressful setting.
Will Hammock can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.