The goal of every team when signing undrafted free agents is to find that diamond in the rough. Everyone is looking for that Kurt Warner or Wes Welker; the guys who don’t appear to have immense talent and physical attributes but could develop into pro bowl players.
It is tough to do but it does happen, and the St. Louis Rams have the best chance at finding that guy in former Florida cornerback Marcus Roberson.
The availability of Roberson as an undrafted free agent was a major surprise to the Rams’ front office. He was projected as a third round prospect but most likely fell because of his sub-par 40-yard dash in addition to a deep draft class in terms of secondary players. The Rams thought about drafting him in the fifth round but instead went with E.J. Gaines. The Rams’ staff was excited to see him fall off the board and signed him to a deal as soon as they could.
Roberson has solid size for a cornerback and has great hands. When watching game film of him, you often see him place his hands in the right spot at the right time in order to disrupt receivers’ timing and knock the ball away. Although he did not run a great 40 yard dash at 4.61, he possesses great speed and almost seems to glide across the field, a trait that all great runners in the NFL have. He knows how to use the sideline as an extra defender and does not shy away from anyone, using his physicality and fearlessness to his advantage.
Roberson’s aggressiveness in coverage gets him in trouble at times, overrunning offenders or attracting flags while attempting to get the best position he can. Although he is a solid tackler, he often goes for the knockout punch that sometimes results in a missed tackle or a slight chip that requires outside help to get runners down. He has a bit of durability concerns, battling minor knee injuries throughout his career and missing 5 games in 2013.
In 2012, Roberson started 4 games and finished second in the SEC with 14 passes defensed and his 12 pass breakups were the most by a Florida Gator since Joe Haden in 2008. He played 5 games in 2013 and recorded 11 tackles and 3 pass break ups. He finished his career with 3 interceptions. Roberson was also used in the punt return game, averaging 10 yards per return, a testament to his speed and elusiveness as a defender.
The Rams spent a good deal of picks on secondary players, so it is crowded bunch and Roberson will have to work for his reps and recognition. I believe that he is a player that can shine in Gregg Williams’ defense. The only problem is that the Rams drafted other players that fit his style, so he could be cut for pure numbers purposes, not skill reasons. If Roberson is able to stay healthy and prove himself to the coaches in camp, I think he make an important impact in 2014.