New England Patriots Filled Cornerback Void Late in the Draft


The New England Patriots may have just won the Super Bowl, but the team lost four of their major contributors at the same position this offseason.

Cornerback’s Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Kyle Arrington, and Alfonzo Dennard have all moved on to new teams, so it was no surprise that the Patriots picked up a cornerback in the 2015 NFL Draft. What was a surprise is that the team waited until the 247th pick to do it.

In the seventh round the Patriots drafted Darryl Roberts from Marshall University. Another surprise, this still may end up being their most valuable selection of the draft.

Marshall defensive back Darryl Roberts (7) deflects a pass. Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being All-Conference USA first team in his redshirt senior season, Roberts wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine. He still managed to open some eyes when at the Marshall pro day, he outperformed every cornerback who attended the combine in the 40-yard dash, vertical leap, broad jump, and bench press.

His athleticism is impressive, but when you turn on the tape, he impresses even more. Roberts has incredible skills with his hips and can stay on the hip of the receiver he covers. One major knock on Roberts is in his tendency to be over physical. He needs to learn which situation to use his hands and not commit foolish penalties. He can also be fought off the snap and taken over the top but he has great recovery speed and the window receivers have to get open on him is very small. Roberts is a good tackler and a great leg tackler on bigger players. His motor is not always running and will often slow down if he thinks his teammates are finishing the play.

The fit with New England is clear: they both work for each other. The Patriots lost their physical playmakers at cornerback, which is what Roberts can add. What he needs is a team that can coach him up and if any team is known for their success in defensive coaching it is the New England Patriots.

Roberts joins NFL veterans Bradley Fletcher and Robert McClain as the newest Patriot cornerbacks on the Patriots who will try and make an impact. Being a late drafted player, there is no guarantee that Roberts even makes the team in New England, but if there is a seventh-round pick to bet on it may be this kid.