Unpacking Future Packers: No. 32, Rutgers CB Max Melton

The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects that could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2024 NFL draft.

On paper, the Green Bay Packers appear to have a solid group of cornerbacks. Jaire Alexander is an all-pro caliber player. Carrington Valentine showed promise last season as a seventh-round rookie. Keisean Nixon is back to man the nickel position. If former first-round pick Eric Stokes can rediscover his rookie form the Packers could have a solid foundation in place.

There are obvious concerns with this group. Can Alexander and Stokes stay healthy? Will Valentine fall victim to a sophomore slump? With question marks surrounding the group, one would expect the Packers to add another body to bolster the cornerback room at 1265 Lombardi Avenue.

A cornerback that the Packers could target on Day 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft is Max Melton. The Rutgers cornerback checks in at No. 32 in the Unpacking Future Packers Countdown. 

Melton is a legacy at Rutgers. Max’s father Gary played football at Rutgers University and his mother played basketball. 

During his second season on campus, Melton recorded 1.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions and five pass deflections. In 2022, Melton recorded two tackles for loss, two interceptions and 10 pass deflections. This past season Melton recorded four tackles for loss, one sack, three interceptions and six pass deflections.

“He was a veteran leader with plenty of experience under his belt (1,418 snaps in his first three seasons in college) and was arguably their most talented defensive player,” Brian Fonseca, a Rutgers beat writer for NJ Advance Media/The Star-Ledger, said. “He struggled to show that early in the year while dealing with a hand injury, but he really came on at the end of the season. Melton oozes confidence and that does transmit to the rest of his teammates.”

Melton is an outstanding athlete, with track speed. At the NFL Scouting Combine, Melton clocked a 4.39 40-yard dash and had a 2.56 20-yard split. He shows that burst if he’s beaten off the line of scrimmage.

“His speed and athleticism, which he proved by testing out really well at the combine,” Fonseca said. “He feels comfortable in press coverage because of his physical traits, and again, he has the confidence needed to take on elite talents in that setting.”

Melton is comfortable playing press or zone. In press, he has the fluidity, velvet feet and quickness to stay attached in pattern. In off-coverage, Melton shows good instincts and excellent route recognition. He has experience playing in the slot and on the boundary. 

Melton does a good job of reading the wide receivers’ eyes and bodies them up at the catch point. The Rutgers cornerback recorded eight interceptions and 21 pass deflections. 

“His knack for anticipating, which he showed with some of the interceptions he’s made in his career,” Fonseca said. “His ability to close the gap on any receiver who beats him with his initial move.”

Melton is a physical cornerback and is a willing participant against the run. He is looking to pop the ball carrier. 

During his career at Rutgers, Melton logged 455 snaps on special teams. He returned two punts and it’s a role that he could potentially take on full-time at the next level. 

Fit with the Packers

In a perfect world, the Packers would roll out Alexander with Stokes or Valentine starting opposite him with Nixon starting on the inside. 

Given the recent injury history of Stokes and Alexander that group may not be able to stick together for an entire season. On top of that Alexander, Nixon and Valentine are the only cornerbacks on the roster that are locked up beyond this season. Taking into account those two factors, Melton could be an ideal fit with his ability to play on the boundary or in the slot.

The history of successful defensive backs that have come out of Rutgers under Greg Schiano is why I’d target Melton,” Fonseca said. “His vast experience playing meaningful football in a top conference. His freakish athleticism, which is complemented by his willingness to learn and grow as a player.”

Melton checks the boxes with his athleticism, inside-out versatility and toughness. The Packers have four picks on Day 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft, and Melton could be a target with one of those picks as the Packers look to add playmakers to the secondary. 

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire