Roby gets clean slate, has to earn the rest

Despite questions about his maturity, Denver first-round draft pick Bradley Roby is being given the same chance as any rookie to prove himself to the team. David Dermer/Diamond Images/Getty Images

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The education of Bradley Roby has begun for the Denver Broncos. How he handles the coursework in the coming weeks and months will have a lot to say about how his rookie season will go.

The Broncos rolled the dice a bit earlier this month when they selected Roby in the first round of the draft. Roby, a player with top-15 talent, as John Elway described, comes with some questions about his maturity, on-field effort and off-the-field decisions in tow.

But as the Broncos completed their rookie minicamp Sunday, Roby has the benefit of a clean slate in many respects. He has been awarded the opportunity to show the Broncos what he said after they selected him with the 31st pick, that “I’m a good guy, a good teammate," from this point forward.

“You know what guys were before they got here, really -- other than being a nice snapshot as to what they were able to do good or bad -- they’re going to get in here and compete," said defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. “We’re going to work with them and develop them, and there’s so much growth that can take place for younger players in particular when they get here."

That opportunity to reboot may be the last thing Roby is simply given. From this point on, each step will be an earned proposition.

“He’s going to have to learn fast. He’s going to have pump up that learning speed," said cornerback Chris Harris Jr. “He’s going to have to be quick if he wants to compete with us. Like Kayvon [Webster] last year, he got thrown in pretty fast as a rookie and he learned it. If you don’t, you won’t play; they won’t care who you are."

“I’m just trying to learn all the plays as much as I can. It’s kind of a lot," Roby said. “But we have enough time. All we’re doing is football now. So it’s just about getting that extra studying in with my teammates and just getting the playbook down."

The Broncos would like Roby, with his 4.3 speed in the 40-yard dash and coverage skills that led several scouts and personnel executives to put him at the top of this year’s cornerback class, to be in the mix in their specialty packages. Given that they spend over 70 percent of their snaps in nickel and dime packages, as well as a seven-defensive back look from time to time, that is no small item on the agenda.

Few, if any, in the league question Roby’s physical skills. It’s how he handles the rest of it, on and off the field, that will determine how much, and how quickly, he plays.

“He’s very bright," Del Rio said. “He’s a good communicator in the meetings and all that and then coming out on the field. And he’s gifted physically. He’s got a lot of work to do, as most rookies do. But he’s got a lot of great tools.”

“A lot of young guys, they come in and they expect like everything to be given to them, like ‘I got drafted. I’m the man.’ They’ve got to realize they have to get to work," Harris said. “That’s something I sort of let people know. [Roby] is like all of us. He has to get to work. You’ve got guys who’ve been here, been in this league, and want to accomplish some things."

The Broncos rookies will now participate in the remainder of the team’s offseason program. They had a few days of classroom work last week before, along with some of the Broncos’ practice squad players from last season, getting on the field Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“It’s a new system, so you’ve got to just get used to the words because sometimes the words are different than we used in college," Roby said. “It’s just stuff like that, little small things that you’ve got to get down.”

“We’re going to work with them and develop them, and there’s so much growth that can take place for younger players, in particular when they get here," Del Rio said. "… We just want Bradley, like everybody right now, just to get in here and work hard every day, be a good teammate, come with great positive energy and come in here and join this football team. All that other stuff will take care of itself."