The No Fly Zone is regarded as the league's top secondary unit by football analysts and writers across the nation, but nevertheless, there are those who doubt their abilities.
Criticism is nothing new for Bradley Roby. He heard it throughout his collegiate career with the Ohio State.
Leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft, many analysts considered him a risk due to character concerns and moreover, his inconsistent tape on the field as a junior that at times, was downright awful.
The key game referenced? Wisconsin. That's when former Badger turned Packers wide receiver Jared Abbrederis torched Roby for 10 catches, 207 yards and a touchdown.
Yet, when the dust settled and draft day rolled around, Roby was a first-round selection for Denver while Abbrederis slid to the fifth-round and was the first Wisconsin prospect to be selected by Green Bay since 2001.
The Denver Broncos knew what they were getting with Roby. A high-upside, extremely athletic and gifted corner who had the ability to play inside in the nickel or outside on an island by himself. His physical attributes were off the charts and his scheme fit was unquestionable. The only large question mark being whether or not he possessed the desire and mental ability to take on the rigors of the NFL and learn from his mistakes.
Roby might have lost that battle against Abbrederis, but he may have won the war. Occasionally matched up against him when the Broncos and Packers squared off last season and played arguably their best team game of the regular season, Roby and the rest of the No Fly Zone shut Abbrederis down to the tune of no catches.
Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
Abbrederis continued to struggle throughout the rest of his second season, while Roby's game continued to ascend. His penchant for big plays helped propel the Broncos' defense to uncharted territory and without question, played an integral role in securing a third Lombardi Trophy for our beloved franchise.
Entering his third-year donning orange and blue, Roby continues to demonstrate his professionalism, maturity and drive to be the best player he can be.
He sees himself as a starter — and that's essentially what he is, given teams' propensity to be in nickel or dime coverage, it's a rarity to not see Roby on the field somewhere, sticking to his opposition like glue and giving them fits all game long.
When asked whether or not he feels as if he's flying under the radar due to the respect Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib get, Roby wasn't too concerned.
"It matters a little bit to me, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter because people see what I do on the field. Of course it matters to me as a competitor," stated Roby. "I’m someone that wants to be the top guy. I understand how the league works. It’s not a big deal."
In order to prove himself as one of the best corners in the game, Roby understands the work he has to put in to rise to that level. He knows his faults and areas he can improve and is seeking out the advice of teammates and coaches in order to become on of the best corners in the NFL.
"I have a lot of things that I can correct from my first two years. I can learn the game more. I was talking to [Defensive Coordinator] Coach [Wade] Phillips out there on the field. There are some parts of my game that I don’t even pay attention to that I know guys that are on the top level definitely pay attention to," Roby added. "Just recognizing routes in the game and stuff. There are a lot of things. Nobody is perfect, so you’re always going to find out different ways to make sure you’re getting better. That’s all it is."
Perhaps the most important aspect Roby is placing his diligence towards is preparation, in particular, anticipation of what opposing teams do and taking in everything that is happening around him at the highest level.
"Yeah, that’s just one thing specifically I’m working on. Just understanding how offense like to attack. It’s just little stuff. It’s the details. The details are what make you great. I’m just trying to get all of my details down."
And if the third-year Buckeye cornerback can master the small things, hone in on the details of the game, he may very well reach his lofty goal of become one of the best corners on the league and maybe, just maybe, the best corner on the Broncos roster.