The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have depth issues at cornerback. They also have a lot of rookie cornerbacks on the roster, led by second-round pick Johnthan Banks who is expected to start opposite Darrelle Revis. The Bucs also signed three undrafted free agents: Deveron Carr, whom they gave a big signing bonus, Branden Smith, who had a good reputation coming out of Georgia not dissimilar to Leonard Johnson last year, and Rashaan Melvin.
But while Branden Smith and Deveron Carr are barely mentioned or seen in practice, Melvin has been a consistent presence throughout the offseason. He's clearly the front runner among the undrafted rookies. In fact, he's running so far up front that he was starting at cornerback opposite Johnthan Banks today.
4. Rashaan Melvin continues to get lots of first team reps. Started ahead of Leonard Johnson across from Banks today.— Eric Dellaratta (@EricDellaratta) August 1, 2013
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Times highlights Melvin as well. "He's got physical tools. He works very hard at his preparation mentally. He's got a good temperament. I think he's got a chance to be a good player," Greg Schiano told the Times. He's getting more and more practice reps, and continues to take advantage of them.
So why, then did he go undrafted? I'm not sure, either, but there are some hints when you watch his college tape. It's clear that he's a big, physical presence. He shows off some explosiveness coming out of his breaks, and it seems like he can get burned deep a little. He also didn't seem to play press-man coverage, which may be a reason for some teams to wait on him. A lack of interceptions may have played against him, too: five in three seasons and just one as a senior.
This scouting report from Bleeding Green Nation is illuminating, too.
Overview: Interesting player with prototypical physical characteristics and length for the position, which is made even more enticing when factoring in instincts and football IQ. Has some warts and quickness out of breaks is concern, but can't deny upside and fits profile as potential steal on Day 3. Will earn keep on special teams at first and has skills to eventually crack starting lineup in base defense. Have only heard good things about his character, has been described as "wise."
That sounds fairly impressive. In fact, he sounds like a poor man's Johnthan Banks. The Bucs are definitely looking for those physical, lengthy cornerbacks. Seattle Seahawks style: the kinds of cornerbacks who can excel in press coverage (whether zone or man) on the outside, but who may not have the most fluid hips and lateral agility.
Melvin may have a spot with the Buccaneers, and he's certainly one to keep an eye on as the preseason for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers starts next week. It's important to keep one thing in mind, though: rookie cornerbacks almost always struggle.
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