With the most important (expensive) part of free agency wrapped up, and teams look for tweaks instead of fixes. The Raiders are no different. Most teams at this stage no longer want big name players. Most players remaining in the current pool are either aging, young specialty players, or the middle class free agent still hoping for a decent payday. Rashaan Melvin certainly fell into the latter class as he is by no means a “lockdown corner”. However, he remains certainly is the kind of player the Raiders needed.
Per Pro-Football Focus, Melvin ranked as the 17th best Cornerback overall. While he falls outside of the top ten, consider that every team needs at least three capable corners. Melvin’s signing essentially assures Paul Guenther that he will have at least one starter level cornerback with Gareon Conley’s ability unproven. Additionally, Melvin brings experience in shadowing the opponent’s best wideout. In 2017, he notched three interceptions with 13 pass deflections last season.
For as much help as he brings to the secondary, there are some clear holes in Melvin’s game. At 28 years old, he quickly approaches the cliff for the average outside cornerback. Plus, he has never started more than 10 games. Additionally, the three interceptions he banked last season were also the first and only in three seasons across five teams. Even though Melvin remains well regarded where he has landed, five teams in three seasons is alarming. Consider that David Amerson secured second contracts through playing at a high level for a season.
As concerning as some of these flags are, Rashaan Melvin is still exactly the kind of player the Raiders needed to sign. At just $6.5 Million against the cap this season, Melvin has the chance to be a steal. If he does not the Raiders, can move on easily. Furthermore, this will be the first season he enters with a full training camp and a starting job that is his to lose. With the backing of the coaching staff, and the green light to travel, Melvin could be due for a big season.
With the expectation that Melvin can play left or right, the Raiders can use this season to mix and match. Conley projects as a cover corner that can make plays on the ball. Typically, such players stay on the more open, or field side, at LCB. Melvin projects to be a Sean Smith replacement at RCB, a play side corner who is not exactly a turnover generator. However, with players who can potentially do both the coaching staff play the “hot hand” in coverage. Mixing coverages comfortably and buying valuable time for all-world pass rusher Khalil Mack, and newly minted end Bruce Irvin.