2024 NFL Combine: Why cornerback Max Melton is someone you need to watch

The 49ers obviously need help on the offensive line, but a cornerback wouldn't go astray either. Rutgers cornerback Max Melton has flown under the radar as a high-upside guy stuck on a terrible Scarlet Knights team.

Maryland v Rutgers
Maryland v Rutgers / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

One name to look for in the NFL Combine is Rutgers cornerback Max Melton, who's put together an excellent two years that's been hidden by being on a poor Rutgers team.

It's a given for most pundits and fans that the San Francisco 49ers are in needs of bolstering the offensive line when it comes to the NFL Draft. Plenty of articles will cover who to take, if the Niners should draft up and so forth.

Suffice to say that this is an exceptionally deep tackle class, and San Francisco is fortunate the biggest hole on the roster is also the greatest strength of this class.

Read More: How many rounds (and picks) are in the NFL Draft?

But there's also the need to fill other positions.

Cornerback is one such position, and could arguably be the second biggest need on the roster.

Charvarius Ward is an excellent No. 1 corner and Deommodore Lenoir had a breakout season in the slot, but the team needs a reliable No. 2 corner across from Ward to shore up the secondary. While the 49ers could address that with their first pick on Thursday night in some years, the strong tackle class that would allow plenty of Day 1 starters to fall to them might be too good to refuse.

So that's where finding a gem comes in handy.

Every starter the Niners have drafted in the secondary (Lenoir, Ambry Thomas, Talanoa Hufanga and Ji'Ayir Brown) have all been taken on either Day 2 or Day 3 of the draft.

This draft has some interesting corner prospects for Day 2, and Max Melton is a particular favorite of mine.

Keep an eye on CB Max Melton at NFL Combine

Melton had three interceptions and six passes defended for Rutgers in 2023, following up a breakout 2022 season where he had two interceptions and nine passes defended. Because Rutgers has not had a good program, he's gotten lost in the shuffle somewhat.

So what does he bring that the 49ers would want on their team?

What Melton has is a relentless motor. He gives maximum effort with every play and is an aggressive and relentless defender. San Francisco's defense had some admitted problems with effort, and Melton provides the spark that the team might need to go one better next season.

Part of the spark is his willingness and skill in run support. Run defense was a weakness for the 49ers this season, so anything that helps is welcomed. What's also welcomed is his versatility where he can fit in either a man- or a zone-based scheme, so the Niners won't need to worry about fit.

Physically, Melton might be slightly undersized at 6-foot-0 and 190 pounds (this is his Rutgers-listed mesasurables), but he's strong, physical and he's fast enough to run with any corner. From an athletic standpoint, he ticks the boxes you need from a NFL-caliber corner, so what's stopping him from first-round consideration?

Put simply, Melton needs a bit of coaching for the next level. He relies too much on his physical attributes and his aggressive bump-and-run tendencies can lead him to trail receivers if his man gets by him. While Melton has the speed to recover, the NFL is much less forgiving than college, and teams won't be too patient with him if his man keeps getting by him.

But the good news is this is teachable. Melton has all the things needed to be a good NFL player. He has the physical tools, he's a guy willing to learn and he has the versatility that teams love. Whether it's a man versus zone scheme or playing outside corner or in the slot, Melton is a guy that ticks the boxes.

He's also a guy that I would love to see on the 49ers, and he'll be a certain Day 2 pick if he performs well at the NFL Combine.

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