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BOGACZYK: Roberts Ready, Waiting for Draft Call


April 29, 2015

By JACK BOGACZYK

HERDZONE.COM COLUMNIST

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Now, all Darryl Roberts can do is wait.

Roberts, Marshall's All-Conference USA cornerback, seized his opportunity to impress NFL personnel men at the Herd's Pro Day seven weeks ago. Since then, he's had additional sessions with eight NFL clubs.

The 80th NFL Draft starts Thursday night at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, and Roberts will be home in Lakeland, Fla., anticipating a phone call he figures will come sometime Saturday, when Rounds 4-7 start at noon.

Somewhere in the Draft's 256 picks, the 6-foot, 182-pound corner's name should be called.

He hopes he isn't alone among a Herd of prospects that also prominently include center Chris Jasperse, defensive lineman James Rouse and linebacker Neville Hewitt.

"A bunch of teams that worked me out have called me, night and day," said Roberts, who has been working out religiously at Edwards Stadium, in the Dunfee Weight Room and the Herd's indoor facility. "It's a lot of interest I think, and they all tell me a lot of the same stuff, so I really don't have a good feel of who likes me better than anybody else.

"There does seem to be a lot of interest though. I have a good feel for the draft. I'd say mid-round, fourth or fifth, I hope."

Roberts, who ranked in the nation's top 10 in passes defended in 2014, wasn't on the NFL radar until Pro Day. He had no invitation to the NFL Combine or to multiple postseason all-star games for prospects.

At his Pro Day workout before representatives of nine NFL clubs, Roberts posted a 4.36 and a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash, a 39-inch vertical leap, an 11-1 broad jump, bench pressed 225 pounds 23 times -- topping all cornerbacks who went to the NFL Combine -- and had a 4.08 short shuttle and a 6.66 three-cone drill.

Since that day, Roberts has either visited NFL clubs at their facilities or had private workouts in Huntington with Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, New England, Kansas City, Green Bay, San Diego and San Francisco.

"A lot of them asked me why I didn't get into any senior all-star games or things like that," said Roberts, who is represented by Huntington attorney David Rich and Rich Sports Management. "And I told them that's not really my decision to get invited to those things.

"I'm a guy who just tries to control what I can control."

Marshall Coach Doc Holliday, whose program has had four draft picks in four seasons (tight end Lee Smith, defensive end Vinny Curry, wide receiver Aaron Dobson and offensive tackle Garrett Scott) underscores Roberts' point on pre-judging prospects.

"I can't figure it out," Holliday said. "I don't know how many we might have drafted. We've had some tremendous football players a year ago who deserve the opportunity to have a chance at the NFL. But you know, I never know what these NFL teams are going to do. I really don't. Sometimes I really wonder what they're looking for, because we've got some really good players.

"Nobody knew about Darryl Roberts until it came to Pro Day, and now 16 teams want to know why they missed him. Well, we've been telling them for a year and a half, two years, that this kid could really play.

"So, I don't know where it's going to go, but I do know we have some football players -- multiple players -- who if given the opportunity have a chance to play in that league. And they deserve that chance. I'm anxious to see myself, because I know there are pretty deserving kids who were on a (C-USA) championship team last season."

The first NFL Draft was held in 1936. Since 1939, Marshall has had 39 selections. The Herd high was four picks in 2000, led by first-round quarterback Chad Pennington. If Roberts is selected as expected, he will be the first Marshall defensive back taken since safety Chris Crocker was a third-rounder by the Cleveland Browns in 2003.

NFLDraftScout.com has Roberts ranked as the No. 24 cornerback prospect, No. 183 overall. The website projects him as a Rounds 5-6 selection.

Roberts said he hopes his elevation as a prospect will help bring some of his teammates NFL camp opportunities, whether they're drafted or go the free-agent route. He also said some solid Pro Day performances by himself, Jasperse and Rouse hopefully will bring more attention in Marshall prospects in years to come.

"I hope I can help some other guys get opportunities," he said. "I'm just trying to lead by example and taking advantage of the opportunity I have."

In the weeks since he met individually with NFL teams, Roberts said he hasn't changed much -- not surprising for a guy nicknamed "Swagg" who won the 2014 version of the Tom Stark Award, presented to a Herd defensive player who gives his all on and off the field.

"I've just tried to show them how smart I am in football IQ, and basically tried to show them how athletic I am," Roberts said when asked about working out for NFL clubs. "Show them I can backpedal, flip my hips, attack the ball at the highest point, things like that. I show them I'm willing to work hard, to do what it takes.

"I've just been grinding on my own, coming an and working out with the strength staff here, getting the feel of changing directions, stuff like that, trying to shape up my craft, pinpoint it to the minimum, so I won't have that many mistakes when I do get out on the field."

Now comes the hard part.

"I'll be watching the Draft home in Florida with my family," he said, "just chilling and waiting and trying to enjoy the process."

 
Year Round (Overall) Player Pos. Team
2014 6 (199) Garrett Scott OT Seattle
2013 2 (59) Aaron Dobson WR New England
2012 2 (59) Vinny Curry DE Philadelphia
2011 5 (159) Lee Smith TE New England
2007 7 (250) Ahmad Bradshaw RB New York Giants
2005 6 (206) Johnathan Goddard LB Detroit
2004 2 (54) Darius Watts WR Denver
2003 1 (7) Byron Leftwich QB Jacksonville
  3 (84) Chris Crocker S Cleveland
  4 (122) Steve Sciullo OG Indianapolis
2002 7 (243) Chris Massey LS St. Louis
2001 2 (51) Paul Toviessi DE Denver
2000 1 (18) Chad Pennington QB New York Jets
  2 (43) Rogers Beckett S San Diego
  3 (88) Doug Chapman RB Minnesota
  6 (175) James Williams WR Seattle
1998 1 (21) Randy Moss WR Minnesota
  5 (148) John Wade C Jacksonville
1993 8 (198) Troy Brown WR New England
1989 4 (112) Mike Barber WR San Francisco
  6 (164) Sean Doctor TE Buffalo
1983 7 (186) Carl Lee DB Minnesota
1967 14 (353) Andy Socha RB Washington
1965 16 (211) Tom Good LB New York Giants
1964 18 (251) Mike Hicks G Green Bay
1962 17 (234) Rucker Wickline C Detroit
1959 29 (338) Jim O'Connor C Chicago Cardinals
1958 15 (170) Ray Dunlap B Chicago Cardinals
  24 (288) Jim O'Connor T Cleveland
1956 8 (97) Len Hellyer B Cleveland
1955 18 (210) Albie Maier G Pittsburgh
1957 13 (157) Jim Swierczek B/E Detroit
1950 13 (170) Norm Willey B Philadelphia
1948 21 (193) Charley Snyder T Pittsburgh
1942 13 (120) Jackie Hunt B Chicago Bears
1941 7 (53) Jim Roberts C Pittsburgh
1940 14 (126) Jack Morlock B Detroit
1939 17 (151) Everette "Boot" Elkins B Chicago Cardinals
  18 (162) Frank Huffman G Chicago Cardinals

 

 

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