March 29, 2024   6 MIN READ

Max Attention

Rutgers CB Catches Birds' Eyes At Pro Day


PISCATAWAY, N.J. – An overcast, gloomy forecast Thursday afternoon was no match for the spacious indoor practice bubble that housed Rutgers University’s pro day.

“It’s a big day for a lot of young men here,” Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano said during his availability. “For a lot of ‘em, they’ve dreamt of [the NFL] their whole life, as long as they can remember. And now they have an opportunity to go show the NFL scouts what they’re capable of. I say a prayer for ‘em and hope the rest goes well.”

The lively facility was a stark contrast to the dismal weather and featured a host of Rutgers teammates cheering on the draft eligible prospects, along with a healthy dose of media and pro-level evaluators, drawing 30 NFL teams (40 personnel).

The energy in the building was palpable from the start, with teammates huddled around to support those partaking in the vertical jump.

Cornerback Max Melton, a projected second-round pick with an increasingly soaring stock, was largely responsible for commanding the sizable crowd, but there were other names who made their mark, including LB Deion Jennings – a South Jersey native from Sicklerville – and wide receivers JaQuae Jackson and Isaiah Washington.

The Eagles were represented by new passing game coordinator/defensive backs coach Christian Parker and Northeast area scout Ben Ijalana.

Max Melton

GETTY IMAGES: Rutgers product Max Melton, a versatile CB, caught the Eagles’ attention at his pro day.

Some notes and observations from Thursday afternoon:

* Melton (5-11, 185), who recorded a 4.39 40-yard dash, 40.5-inch vertical and 11-foot, 4-inch broad jump last month at the NFL Scouting Combine, stood on those numbers, instead participating only in the short shuttle (4.29 seconds) and three-cone drill (6.95). Melton also took part in the defensive back on-field workout, presided over by Parker and Vikings defensive backs coach Daronte Jones. Melton looked fluid and technical over the roughly 20-minute period.

“I think Max has all the tools to be a really, really good cornerback in the NFL,” Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano said. “He plays inside, he plays outside. He’s a great special teams player. And he loves football and he’s a good person. So, when you take all that into account, and then you know that he’s got an older brother who’s already playing in the league [Packers receiver Bo Melton], as an NFL team, I’m sure that makes them feel very comfortable with Max.”

Melton mentioned he had been training at XPE Sports in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., working with trainers Tony Villani and Matt Gates. He’ll be staying local over the next month, however, training in New Jersey.

Following the workout, Melton later discussed what he’d bring to an NFL team.

“Versatility, for sure,” he said. “I’m the most versatile player in the draft. I don’t only show up on defense. Of course, I had eight picks – that’s tied for first among all the corners in the draft – and I show up on special teams, too. So, I feel like I’m the most valuable player in the draft.”

* Jennings enjoyed a productive Rutgers career, collecting 251 tackles (19.5 for loss), 13 passes defended, an interception and a sack over 58 appearances. The veteran linebacker has drawn some interest and will be attending the Eagles’ local day on April 17. The 6-foot, 225-pound defender registered a 4.69 40-yard dash; 32.5-inch vertical; 9-foot, 6-inch broad jump; 4.38 short shuttle; and 7.24 three-cone.

“I feel like I’m an all-around player,” Jennings said. “Just being able to play inside ‘backer, outside ‘backer. I feel like I can run and hit well. Diagnosing plays is one of my strong suits. So, I just feel like I’m a versatile player, all-around.”

* Toward the end of the workout, I stood off near the endzone and observed the wide receivers –  Washington and Jackson, among them – run a gamut of routes. I highlighted both players due to the fact they flashed as route runners and showcased velcro-like hands and body control.

At one point, Washington, who was sparsely utilized throughout his Scarlet Knight career, extended to reel in a nifty one-handed grab in the left corner of the endzone, drawing a smattering of cheers from his former teammates. Highlight-reel one-handed snares was a hallmark of Washington’s, who totaled 927 yards and three touchdowns of 74 career catches (58 games).

Washington has local days lined up with the Jets, Giants and Jaguars (he’s a native of Jacksonville, Fla.).  Testing-wise, Washington (6-2, 206) recorded a 4.53 40-yard dash, 38-inch vertical and 10-foot, 9-inch broad jump. He also measured in with 33-inch arms.

As for Jackson (6-1, 183), a transfer from Division II’s Cal U, he closed out his brief Rutgers career strong after an injury-riddled start. For background, Jackson had drawn considerable interest while in the transfer portal coming off a 2022 season in which he accounted for 1,178 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns on 77 receptions with the Vulcans, but went with Rutgers.

Most notably, Jackson stood out to me with his decisive route running, strong hands and ability to track the football. Like Jennings, he’ll also be attending the Eagles’ local day, among others.

Jackson posted a 4.50 40-yard dash, 36-inch vertical and 10-foot broad jump. Interesting developmental prospect. He could very well end up in a camp.

*Interesting to note, Rutgers also had a player, Trevor Yeboah-Kodie (5-11, 206), listed as “athlete.” Yeboah-Kodie, who played four seasons of varsity lacrosse at Brown, ran a 4.48 and posted a 10-foot broad jump, along with a 34.5-inch vertical. He got some on-field work with the pass catchers and looked natural doing so. He opened some eyes. 

The pro day also brought to the surface a stark contrast in circumstance. With many of the players in attendance looked to help their draft stock, or even be recognized by an NFL team, the self-assured Melton made it known that he believes he’s one of the best in the draft.

“I feel like I should be the first corner off the board, based on my production, versatility and just how valuable I am,” he said during his media availability. “But I know realistically, I’ll probably be second round – maybe I could slip into the first-round. That’s where I feel like I stand.”

– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for

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