The Forgotten CornerbackJuly 7th, 2014
Joe has, in the past, referenced how Bucs fans just love names they recognize. Throw out a player’s name who has started in the NFL for two or three years, and many Bucs fans consider said player an automatic upgrade, solely because – “Hey, I know his name!”
This is the only logical reason Joe can deduce as to why so many Bucs fans went wild when the Bucs signed castoff Mike Jenkins. You would have thought Ronde Barber came out of retirement by the reaction.
Folks, there is a reason why the putrid Cowboys and the rancid Raiders washed their hands of Jenkins.
Lost in Bucs fans kvetching over cornerbacks is a guy Joe thinks Bucs fans should remember. That is Rashaan Melvin. Joe knows Greg Schiano and Mark Dominik thought they had a steal in grabbing Melvin as an undrafted free agent last year. Joe never had so much unsolicited feedback from Bucs types off the record crowing about Melvin; it wasn’t even close.
Alas, Melvin had a season-ending hamstring injury early in the 2013 preseason.
There is a cat by the name of Spencer Nobles, a Bucs fan who is a grad student at Joe’s alma mater who also has a journalism degree and wrote recently about Melvin on his blog, “It’s a Bucs Life.” So Joe decided to throw Nobles a bone and a link because he did some nice research on Melvin.
Back in his days at Northern Illinois University (NIU), Melvin was viewed as a shutdown cornerback. Quarterbacks regularly avoided his side of the field and when they did decide to test him, they were often unsuccessful; hence, “Melvin’s Island” was born. Although he only recorded 1 interception in his senior year, Melvin set a NIU single-season record with 17 pass breakups to go along with 55 tackles. His best statistical year came in 2011, when he recorded 78 tackles, 3 interceptions and 9 pass deflections.
Several scouting reports on Melvin during his final year at Northern Illinois state that he is a physical cornerback who excels in zone coverage and has the ability stay in a receiver’s hip pocket in coverage. These are great attributes for a Tampa-2 corner and, with his size, Melvin will also be able to jam most receivers at the line of scrimmage, which has been practiced regularly in Lovie Smith’s practices this offseason.
Although he’s had an up and down performance in minicamps this offseason, the evidence of Melvin’s stickiness is there. On the second day of minicamp, Melvin turned a drop by Vincent Jackson into an interception and also ripped the ball out of speedster Chris Owusu’s hands for another pick. Although the receiver did get his hands on the ball in both instances, the fact that Melvin was in good enough position to make plays is a good sign.
Now, only Lovie Smith knows if Melvin can make the roster, but Joe hasn’t heard of anything from the Bucs, on or off the record, that would suggest Melvin is just camp meat. A good showing by the forgotten Melvin this summer could go a long way into making the Bucs an even tougher defense.
In Joe’s eyes, a team can never have too many good corners.