Ronald Darby burst onto the ACC scene in 2012, with 22 tackles, 8 passes broken up, and quickly earning a reputation as someone to be avoided in coverage. He continued his strong play as a sophomore, earning his first two career interceptions.
Darby, and fellow cornerback P.J. Williams, formed an imposing duo in 2014. Though Darby had a few bumps in the road (a horrible game against Miami), he was mostly reliable in coverage, and a dependable contributor in special team. His terrific performance at the combine – a blazing forty, and tremendous vertical and broad jumps, should help turn skeptics into (possible) believers.
With the Detroit Lions looking to add talent to their defensive backfield, they need look no further than Darby.
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Notable Combine Measurables
Weight: 193 pounds
40-yd Dash:4.38 seconds
20-yd Shuttle: 4.14 seconds
3-Cone Drill: 6.94 seconds
Vertical Jump: 41.5”
Broad Jump: 10’9”
Bench Press: 12
Traits And Projected Round
Darby is a confident and competent cover-corner. He has the ability to mirror receivers, as well as recovery speed to avoid getting beaten deep. Technically, Darby is under six feet tall, and less than 200 pounds, but he is well built, and consistently physical with the receivers he covers. He made more plays on the ball as a freshman and sophomore, than he did as a junior, but part of that drop-off can be attributed to opposing quarterbacks becoming more aware of Darby’s impressive coverage skills.
Darby has room to improve some of his techniques, especially when it comes to his tackling, in run support. He may also have to answer some questions from NFL scouts and executives, as an alleged witness in the Jameis Winston rape investigation. Many draft boards have Darby listed as a top five corner, but this year’s class is deep with talent, so, depending on the fit, it’s quite possible Darby will be available at the end of the 2nd round.
Why The Lions Could Draft Ronald Darby
After re-signing Rashean Mathis this offseason, the Lions are set with their starters – he’ll start opposite the up-and-coming Darius Slay. But Mathis is 34, and knows he’ll soon be grooming his replacement. The Lions also presumably don’t know exactly what they have behind Mathis and Slay – Nevin Lawson missed most of his rookie season with an ankle injury, and Bill Bentley is often injured.
Ronald Darby offers tremendous athleticism, as well as good coverage skills, with recovery speed. He could easily contribute in nickel and dime packages, as well as on special teams, as a rookie, while having a season or two to be mentored by Mathis (as he once did with Slay). In a passing dominant league, you can never have enough good corners, and Ronald Darby fits the bill. He is aggressive, athletic, confident, and has a short memory. With a year to refine his techniques, he could be a starting cornerback of the (near) future for the Lions.
Former Lion Comparison: Terry Fair
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