The Lions are really doing a lot to bolster their secondary this offseason. They went after Justin Coleman early and then signed safety Andrew Adams late in the first week of free agency. Then on Friday night they signed cornerback Rashaan Melvin.
Melvin didn’t have the greatest year in Oakland in 2018. Pro Football Focus graded him out a very average 60.5. It’s also a bit concerning that Melvin hasn't stayed long anywhere he’s gone. He’s had stints in Baltimore, Oakland, Indianapolis, Miami and New England. Oh... now I get it.
That’s right, Lions fans. Bob Quinn went out and got another player that spent some time with the Patriots. That makes an even four so far this month. But Melvin is a different story from the others. He only spent eight games with the Patriots and only registered six tackles.
There must have been something there that Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn liked, but that was three years ago. Melvin has since become an off-and-on starter in his last three years in the league. This past season he started seven games for the Raiders.
POD: What are your thoughts on Melvin’s time in Oakland?
SBP: “I wonder if his time in Oakland last season humbled him at all. Not to say confidence is a bad thing, but I have rarely heard a player with the level of confidence and chip on his shoulder Melvin had when he signed with the Raiders last offseason. He came in on a one-year ‘prove it’ deal, and immediately talked about dominating the league and being first team all pro. He went undrafted and was cut four times before getting his first shot to start with the Colts in 2016. He saw his deal with the Raiders as the launching point for him, presumably to receive the long-term deal he deserved whether from the Raiders or another team.
From the start, he gave up a lot of catches. When Daryl Worley returned from suspension in Week 5, Melvin was benched. He then took to twitter and essentially blamed his struggles on the coaches for changing his technique, saying “I’m done changing my style. Back to what got me here.” That got him rendered inactive for two weeks. He wouldn’t start again until the final two weeks when Worley was lost to a shoulder injury.”
POD: What are his strengths?
SBP: “He’s a solid tackler. He’s a slender 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, but he takes good angles and is aggressive. You basically see his attitude on the field in that way.”
POD: What are his weaknesses?
SBP: “Giving up the big play. In Week 2, he had an interception and 3 passes defended. And he spent the rest of the season trying to do it again. He would gamble and pay the price over and over. He didn’t have another interception and never reached 3 passes defended in a game either, with just five the remainder of the season.”
POD: What kind of an impact can the Lions expect to get from Melvin? Is he depth? or is he capable of being a starter?
SBP: “I will say this for Melvin—or really any cornerback on the Raiders roster—they were hamstrung by a complete lack of pass rush. It’s hard to stay with your man as long as the Raiders corners had to with the opposing quarterback sitting comfortably in the pocket and allowing all of his receivers’ routes to fully develop. When he signed on, the Raiders had Khalil Mack terrorizing QBs from his side of the field. When the season started, he was probably like. ‘What the hell did I sign up for?’ I’d say he’s worth a shot. He’s at very least solid depth and in the right situation, he could start. That is just my take, obviously, because Oakland clearly wasn’t that place. He’s got great length and attitude and flashes good cover skills as well.”
This appears to be a risk/reward type situation for the Lions. On one hand, you have a player that’s willing to blame the team and the coaches publicly for his poor play. On the other hand, you have a player that has some possible upside as a starter. The risk is very low and the reward could be high. Melvin will have another one year prove-it deal to get his career back to where it was with the Colts or better. Depending on where the Lions go in the draft, he could certainly get that opportunity.