NFL Draft's No. 43 Overall Pick Hails from South Jersey

by Marc Narducci | Apr 29, 2024
NFL Draft's No. 43 Overall Pick Hails from South Jersey
Cedar Creek graduate Max Melton was the highest drafted player from South Jersey in this year’s NFL draft. A cornerback from Rutgers, Melton was a second round pick, the 43rd overall selection by the Arizona Cardinals. He should provide immediate help to a Cardinals team that was 29th in the NFL in defensive scoring, allowing 26.8 points per game.

At Rutgers, Melton appeared in 43 games, making 40 starts. He had eight career interceptions, 30 passes defensed, and 114 tackles. This past season, Melton recorded three interceptions, had nine passes defensed, and made 32 tackles, including four tackles for loss and a sack. He was named an honorable mention All-Big 10 selection by the league’s coaches. 

One of his best games during his senior year came during a 31-14 win at Indiana. Melton had a season-high six tackles, including one tackle for loss. He also recorded two pass break-ups. 

Rutgers went 7-6 during his senior season and earned a berth into the Pinstripe Bowl, where the Scarlet Knights beat Miami 31-24.

Melton announced after the regular season that he was foregoing his final season of eligibility to enter the NFL draft. 

He played four years at Rutgers, but had another year of eligibility due to the fact that the NCAA gave all players who competed in the COVID season of 2020 an extra year of eligibility. 

Melton didn’t play in the Pinstripe Bowl, but was invited to the prestigious Reese’s Senior Bowl, the all-star game for many top NFL draft prospects. 

He also participated in the NFL Combine, where he was 5-11 and 187 pounds. Melton ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds. He also did an impressive 40.5” vertical jump and a 11’ 4” in the broad jump.

Melton comes from an athletic family. His brother Bo, also a Cedar Creek graduate and a Rutgers alumni, is currently a wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers.

Their father Gary Melton was a star at Absegami who played football as a running back-receiver at Rutgers. Max Melton’s mother Vicky played basketball at Rutgers. 

During his high school senior season Melton helped lead Cedar Creek to the Central Jersey Group 2 championship with a 31-23 win over Camden.

In that game Melton rushed for 103 yards on seven carries and scored in an 81-yard touchdown run. He also caught four passes for 20 yards. 

During his senior year, in which Cedar Creek went 10-3, Melton caught 60 passes for 785 yards and seven touchdowns while rushing for 211 yards and a score. 

He saw immediate playing time at Rutgers, playing in all nine games during the COVID-shortened 2020 season. During his time, Rutgers earned two bowl bids. The Scarlet Knights were 3-21 the previous two years before the arrival of both coach Greg Schiano (in his second stint at Rutgers) and Melton, who came in together. 

Melton helped elevate Rutgers program while doing the same for his NFL stock. 

Now he will be playing for former Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon in Arizona, looking to make the same impact he did while competing at both Cedar Creek and Rutgers. 

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Photo of Max Melton / Courtesy of Rutgers University

Author: Marc Narducci


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