If Bradley Roby’s there, the Redskins should draft the cornerback


Ohio State defensive back Bradley Roby ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds at the NFL combine in February. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby should be the Redskins’ first pick. Washington has to wait until 34th overall in the NFL draft to make its opening selection, but Roby would be a natural fit if he falls to the second round.

Redskins general manager Bruce Allen has proved to be a fiscal conservative with the salary cap the past four years. Now he’s in charge of drafting and there’s no expectation Allen will trade into the first round to grab a corner or safety when he can get a contributor in the second round. Maybe Allen will trade down, but he said if a first-round talent fell to Washington the team would take him. And Roby is a late first-round talent.

Roby has good hands to bat down passes and can block punts, too. He could contribute right away as a nickel slot corner and a special teamer — which Washington also needs.

And Roby could develop into a long-term solution at defensive back. The Redskins hope second-year corner David Amerson emerges on one side, but 10-year veteran DeAngelo Hall, who is coming off a fine 2013 season, may only have a couple seasons left. When Hall is done, Roby could step up to give Washington a solid young secondary.

It would be easy to draft a right tackle with the 34th pick, too, and the Redskins wouldn’t be wrong if they did. But this is a passing league and Washington needs young players in the secondary. The offense has enough firepower, but the secondary may once again be vulnerable this year.

Roby is a potential first- or second-rounder, so he could be drafted by San Francisco or Denver with the 30th or 31st picks. His versatility and special teams production makes him attractive after the blue chippers are taken.

If Roby’s gone, Washington should take the top corner, safety or offensive lineman available.

Allen said the team will take the highest-rated player regardless of position, but every GM says that. GMs don’t want to reach for a need and fail, making them even more vulnerable to second-guessing.

But if a top-rated quarterback fell to 34th, would the Redskins take him? No, they’d try to trade the pick, so it’s not always about the best player available. The difference is razor-thin between picks at this point, so Washington might as well fill a need.

The offensive line choice could be between Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and UCLA guard Xavier Su’a-Filo. Kouandjio is a DeMatha alum who would be a perfect right tackle in a power-run scheme, but his feet might not be quick enough for the Redskins’ system. Su’a-Filo could replace Chris Chester at right guard, and the run-blocker also has experience at left guard and left tackle at UCLA.

Given its many needs, Washington shouldn’t have a problem finding a potential starter with its first pick.

Rick Snider has covered sports in Washington since 1978.

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