ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Given that he’s played just over 75 percent of the snaps on the league’s No. 3 defense, Denver Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby has done enough to earn plenty of consideration for the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
Roby is the Broncos’ third-leading tackler with 64 tackles, has three interceptions and forced two fumbles. But at least one person who is fairly close to the situation believes that isn’t enough to take home the trophy as the league’s best first-year defensive player -- Roby.
“I don’t think I have," Roby said. “That was definitely a goal of mind going in ... There have been a lot of good rookies this year: (Baltimore Ravens linebacker) C.J. Mosley, (St. Louis Rams defensive tackle) Aaron Donald, those are the guys I know have been doing their thing this year. I’ve been playing well, but I don’t think I’ve been playing better than those guys at their respective positions."
So, while Roby may believe players such as Mosley and Donald are in front of him for the Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, it doesn’t change the fact that opposing quarterbacks haven't tested the first-round pick as much as they did in the beginning of the season.
Asked Tuesday if Roby deserved to be in the discussion as the league’s best defensive rookie, Broncos head coach John Fox said;
“I think he’s had that kind of season. What’s been remarkable to me is he really wants to be a great player. He’s got the mindset; he’s a very smart young guy that works hard at it. And he really truly tries to get better every day, and in turn, that helps your performance every week. So I’ve been very impressed by the young man and I think he’s had a tremendous year. Some of that voting stuff, I don’t control that. But I think his name ought to be in the mention.”
Roby has played, for the most part, in the Broncos’ five- and six-defensive back packages this season, as he moves into one of the outside positions while Chris Harris Jr. goes into the slot. But Roby has started two games as well, including when Talib did not play Nov. 30 against the Kansas City Chiefs because of a hamstring injury.
“If they throw it, I try to make a play on it, and if they make a catch, get them to the ground," Roby said. “Recently I haven’t been targeted as much, but that is because as a defense we’re playing a lot better."
In the end it’s been good fortune for everyone, as usually a cornerback of Roby’s college performance, size and speed would not have been available to the Broncos with the No. 31 pick.
But questions about Roby’s maturity pushed him down the board. Early in the season Roby said he considered it a slight, but has come to appreciate coming to a team that just won its fourth consecutive AFC West title.
“I think I was put here for a reason," Roby said. “I feel like the things that happened to me happened for a reason for me to be here. I really feel like all of the teams that I wanted to get drafted to, if I was there right now, I think I’d be miserable ... I’m in a perfect position to learn from Pro Bowl guys in a championship organization."