In 2017, Rashaan Melvin was graded one of the top 25 cornerbacks in the NFL by Pro Football Focus after recording 36 tackles, a career-high 13 passes defended and three interceptions in 10 games (missing last six due to a hand injury) with Indianapolis.
That season led to a free-agent deal the following spring in Oakland, but Melvin didn’t have the season he expected. He played in 14 games (seven starts) and made 56 tackles, defended nine passes, and had one interception. Admittedly, Oakland wasn’t the best defensive fit for the 6-foot-2, 196-pound press-man corner.
“Unfortunately, they wanted me to do something that I wasn’t as comfortable with,” Melvin said Tuesday of his time in Oakland. “And I’m here now and it fits me like I feel like I should be playing.”
Signing with Detroit this offseason was all about finding the right fit and getting back to what he does best.
“I think the biggest things that attracted me here was the foundation,” he said of the Lions. “The head coach here (Matt Patricia), the GM (Bob Quinn), the (scheme) was already in place and the free-agent group they brought in. And the opportunity to play on this defense and the man-to-man scheme.”
Oakland wasn’t a fit, but Melvin is excited to get back to work in a heavy man-cover defense he’s familiar with from his season in New England under Patricia in 2015. He’s willing to put in the work and prove he can again reach the potential he showed in 2017.
Melvin expects to do that while starting opposite Darius Slay on the outside. That outside cornerback spot is still very much up for grabs after the Lions moved on from Nevin Lawson this offseason. Melvin was one of the players brought in to compete for the job, and as he sees it, it’s his to lose.
“It’s all about competing at a high level,” he said. “I don’t think you can go to a place and don’t think you’re going to start and not going to play. That’s a recipe for failure. A recipe for not making the team.”
Melvin will have to fend off the likes of Marcus Cooper, Teez Tabor, Amani Oruwariye, Dee Virgin, Mike Ford and others for the job, but if this scheme is truly the fit he believes it to be, the Lions may have found another playmaker at corner.