The Broncos have an embarrassment of riches at the cornerback position. They nearly didn’t.
In a recent profile from Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post, cornerback Bradley Roby said that the Bengals had told him he’d be their pick with the 24th pick in the first round of the 2014 draft.
“Don’t worry about it,” Roby said the Bengals told him. “We’re going to pick you.”
They didn’t, possibly due to the OVI charge that came after the Bengals made that vow. Yes, the team that routinely is accused of giving too many second chances to athletes who get into trouble away from the field chose not to give one to Roby, drafting cornerback Darqueze Dennard instead.
And while neither Roby nor Dennard have become full-time starters with their respective teams, Roby is stuck behind Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, Jr. (The Bengals apparently expect Dennard to become a full-time starter sooner than later, given the decision to pick up his fifth-year option at $8.5 million for 2018.)
Adding to the intrigue is that Broncos coach Vance Joseph served as the defensive backs coach in Cincinnati three years ago. It would be interesting to know whether and to what extent Joseph lobbied for Roby or, alternatively, took the position that he shouldn’t be drafted after the arrest. For now, it sounds as if Joseph believes in Roby.
“Roby is a young corner that could be really, really special. He’s playing behind two Pro Bowl guys,” Joseph told Jhabvala. “From time to time, he has to push himself to continue to become what they are. That’s tough because on most teams, he would be a starter.”
Roby believes that, eventually, he’ll be a starter in Denver.
“My time is coming,” Roby said. “I’m not really worried about that. I just want them to know that I’m a baller and when I get on that field I’m going to ball.”
When he’s had chances during his first three NFL seasons, he has done well. And, at some point, the Broncos will have to choose whether to keep paying big money to Talib and Harris or to give some of that money to Roby and backfill with a younger player — unless Denver can justify devoting significant cap dollars to three cornerbacks.
If Denver can’t, Roby can always sign as a free agent with the Bengals.