Why Max Melton Is The Day 3 Corner The Titans Should Target

INDIANAPOLIS – The Titans have various needs to fill in this year’s draft. As Ran Carthon’s attempt at rebuilding continues, no position groups are more important than wide receiver and offensive tackle. All signs point to the Titans taking those two positions in either order at seven and thirty-eight, but the back half of the draft is where Tennesee can continue to expedite the rebuilding process by way of the defensive side of the ball. The needs in the secondary are big in their own right, and will most likely buck their streak of drafting offensive players at some point in this draft.

Without having a selection in the third round, the most likely spot for Tennessee to target a corner in the fourth round. They’re currently slated to pick somewhere in the range of pick 106-110, depending on compensatory picks that will be announced soon. According to the Consensus Big Board, five cornerbacks are currently listed between picks 100 and 115. While none of the talent here will necessarily be plug and play, getting a guy that defensive coordinator Dennard Wilson and secondary coach Chris Harris can mold is paramount.

Through the Senior Bowl and now the NFL Combine, one player has continued to repeatedly catch my eye: Max Melton out of Rutgers. Melton, brother of Packers receiver Bo Melton, was a four-year starter for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights with a very unique backstory. He originally played receiver, but has since switched to the defensive side of the ball where he recorded three interceptions and allowed just three touchdowns in 2023.

“I only played one year of DB in high school. Working with Bo, we would go at each other in 1-on-1’s” said Melton. The brotherly competition is one that Melton says helped him make the smooth transition from the offensive side of the ball to defense. The history also gives him a unique leg up against receivers in the game. Melton cited his route recognition as one of the traits that gives him an edge in this very stacked class. It also shows on the tape, as Melton allowed his lowest passer rating of 65.7 in 2023, a significant improvement to years prior.

During his impressive Senior Bowl week, he consistently locked down some of the best receiver talent and was a playmaker day in and day out. When I talked to Melton in Mobile, he said that speed is his game, which he believes pairs well with his physicality. The two traits combined to make Melton one of the stickiest corners of the week, rarely allowing separation during 1-on-1’s.

Melton backed up his claims at the NFL Combine this past week, where the former Scarlet Knight showed off his athleticism. Melton ran a 4.39 forty time at the combine, the eighth fastest recorded time during testing for cornerbacks. Melton displayed more of his athleticism with a 40.5’’ vertical and 11’ 5’’ broad jump. With an unofficial relative athletic score of 9.65, he has teams beginning to think he may even come off the board in the back half of day two.

The one major knock on Melton is his ability in man coverage, where the Rutgers corner had reps getting handled on the outside. This would most likely be a larger concern if Melton were projected within the top 50, but as a fringe day two selection, Melton has the tools to improve assuming he lands in the right situation. If teams view Melton as a starting option now rather than later, a popular opinion is to move Melton to the inside and play more in the slot. Some players bristle at the idea of switching from the outside in, but Melton welcomed the idea.

“I’m very versatile and I can play inside and outside. When I look at that inside position, it’s a fun position. You get to do way more on the inside, so I look at it as an opportunity.”

If the Titans were to buck their trend of selecting offensive players starting in the fourth, Max Melton could be a developmental option to go with. Dennard Wilson’s track record, mixed with Chris Harris and Steve Jackson’s veteran knowledge, could be the force multiplier a guy like Melton needs. As we get closer to April 25th and the Titans’ new crop of rookies, Melton continues to be one of “my guys”, and he should be on the Titans’ radar too.

Author: JT Ruhnke

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