With the 247th selection in the 2015 draft, the Patriots took a cornerback from Marshall University. Most players picked that late usually don't make the roster out of camp, but it could be different this year. Darryl Roberts enters a situation where the CB position is wide open and the Patriots will give all the players at the position a fair shake to make the team. The position is littered with unproven and solid but not spectacular types. You can spin it any way you want, but ultimately it's about building the best team and best defensive unit and not assembling the best talent.
Roberts comes with an impressive set of measurables at a position where elite athleticism is a premium. At 5'11" 182, Roberts ran a 4.38 40 with a 6.66 3-Cone and 4.06 shuttle. He leaped 39" and broad jumped 11'1". Even if you assume these numbers are cooked up since they are Pro Day instead of combine numbers, they're impressive. Comparing it with his contemporaries, this is how he stacks up.
|Trae Waynes||Michigan State||6'1"||186||1.53||2.55||4.31||7.06||4.39||38||10-2|
|Kevin Johnson||Wake Forest||6'0"||188||1.59||2.63||4.52||6.89||3.79||41.5||10-10|
|Ronald Darby||Florida State||5'11"||193||1.53||2.56||4.38||6.94||4.14||41.5||10-9|
|PJ Williams||Florida State||6'0"||194||1.55||2.63||4.57||7.08||4.28||40||11-0|
|Damarious Randall||Arizona State||5'10"||196||1.55||2.58||4.46||6.83||4.07||38||10-0|
Looking at the measurables, Roberts outpaces the field in the 10, 20, and 3-Cone. He's tied with Darby for 2nd best 40 time, but Roberts has the edge because he can change gears and direction faster. Listed here are CB prospects, ranked by Sparq, with Roberts placing 2nd. The only CB ranked higher than him is Byron Jones, who went 27th overall to the Dallas Cowboys. Byron Jones is an athletic freak with basketball type athleticism, so that would make sense. As you go further down the list, you see names that have frequented this board (Rowe, Johnson, Darby) are much lower than Roberts. So the question begs why did he last until the 247th pick with those HWS numbers? Your guess is as good as mine.
As for making the roster, Roberts' speed and change of direction skills could be used nicely on special teams. Given that he's a 7th round pick trying to make the team, any advantage he has will go a long way. Special Teams is what will likely put him on the roster in 2015, but that's not the long term goal for him. The goal is getting a starting CB job. While it's possible this camp, I don't see it as likely because he's a rookie along with Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Bradley Fletcher, and possibly Robert McClain entrenched ahead of him on the depth chart. That could change over the course of preseason and in camp. However, it's too early to write him off as a practice squad candidate because of what Malcolm Butler did last season.
As reported by Doug Kyed of NESN, Roberts is listed as one of five players who stood out in off-season camps. At Marshall, he was able to deflect 35 passes and intercept 5 more while starting 42 games for the Herd. As we learned with Malcolm Butler last camp, it doesn't matter what your draft pedigree is. Belichick plays the players that produce in camp and preseason. Like Butler last year, Roberts is going to have to fight tooth and nail for a roster spot while competing for every rep in practice. When the preseason games start, keep an eye on this guy because the CB position is wide open and Roberts offers elite athleticism for the position. We'll see if he's the real deal or another AMC.