Rutgers’ Max Melton Vaults to First Round in Adam Caplan’s Mock Draft

    Rutgers CB Max Melton has been on a meteoric rise this offseason, landing in the first round of PFN NFL Insider Adam Caplan's 2024 NFL Mock Draft.

    Malachi “Max Melton is used to biding his time in the shadows only to burst onto the scene and steal the spotlight. After four years at Rutgers, including three straight productive campaigns, he declared for the NFL Draft with little fanfare. Now, PFN NFL Insider Adam Caplan has the back-to-back Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs selecting the cornerback in the first round of his 2024 NFL Mock Draft.

    Adam Caplan’s Mock Draft Sees Rutgers’ Max Melton Go in Round 1

    The Scarlet Knights offered Melton his first scholarship offer entering his sophomore season in 2017 — his older brother Bo’s first year with the program.

    The Melton family has strong ties to the Scarlet Knights, as their father, Gary, played wide receiver and running back there from 1987-91, and their mother, Vicky, competed on the women’s basketball team from 1989-1993.

    Yet, as a three-star recruit in the 2020 class, Max almost began his collegiate career with a different Big Ten school.

    The Purdue Boilermakers made a late surge for his services, even earning his commitment a month after he took an official visit prior to his senior year. But in December 2019, Melton flipped his allegiance back to Rutgers and signed his letter of intent.

    His first collegiate campaign came with its fair share of turmoil, as COVID-19 caused uncertainty on and off the field. Melton still played in all nine games that season, starting six in head coach Greg Schiano’s first year at the helm.

    While 2020 had its ups and downs, the 2021 season was the beginning of Melton’s three-year reign of terror in the secondary. He started the next 34 games of his career, racking up eight interceptions, 22 pass breakups, 93 tackles, three fumble recoveries, and four block punts.

    That culminated in Rutgers posting its best record (7-6) and winning its first bowl game since 2014. With the collegiate chapter of his football career closed, Melton set his sights on his next stop: the NFL. Playing for a head coach with professional experience and having a brother who recently joined the league certainly made envisioning his path easier.

    When preparing for his own draft cycle in 2022, Bo Melton told Rutgers Wire, “Going against him all the time made me better and him going against me — against a faster guy, shifty guy too — and he’s fast also.

    “Iron sharpens iron. So going against each other every day made us really competitive and made us want to win everything, so kind of helped us in the long run, as you can see, like at Rutgers now, and he’s doing very well for himself as well.”

    At this year’s NFL Combine, Max spoke about his brother’s impact on his career:

    “I was with Bo for two years at Rutgers when I was a young DB. That was my first year truly playing corner. I only played corner one year in high school. Definitely perfecting my craft against Bo for two years. We’d be going at it in practice in 1-on-1.”

    The Seattle Seahawks selected Bo in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft, although he was later waived and signed by the Green Bay Packers. Last season, he caught 16 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown in limited action. Seeing his older sibling struggle to see the field early on has helped Melton temper expectations.

    “He was always the best at everything. Seeing him come to the league and not play right away was shocking to me, humbling to me,” he explained. “So, he just told me to keep your head down, block out the outside noise — good or bad — block out the outside noise. Perfect your craft, and it’ll work out for you at the end of the day.”

    But Bo wasn’t the only well of NFL knowledge Max tapped into, as his head coach served the same role with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2012-2013.

    “Max is going to be a very good football player in the National Football League,” Schiano said last December. “He’s got all the skills to do it. He’s got the mindset to do it. I mean, I think he’s only going to go like this (hand motion upward) with his draft prep because he’s really, really physically very, very gifted.”

    Melton backed up his HC’s words. From shining at the Senior Bowl to blowing up the Combine (4.39 40-yard dash, 40.5″ vertical, and 11’4″ broad), he has soared up draft boards, resulting in his first-round projection in Caplan’s mock draft.

    KEEP READING: Rutgers Scarlet Knights Best of 2023

    “Melton, who had an outstanding string of practices during Senior Bowl week earlier this year, followed that up with another great performance during the NFL Scouting Combine,” Caplan wrote.

    “Thought to be a mid-to-late second-round pick to end last season, few defensive backs have done more to up their draft value than Melton, and this is where the discussion on him heats up with the back-to-back Super Bowl champions.”

    Melton may be out of the shadows now, but the NFL stage awaits. While his landing spot won’t become official until late April, he’s cemented his place as a top CB prospect and is ready to play on the same fields as his brother once again.

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