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Max Melton aims to catch older brother Bo in his race to the 2024 NFL Draft

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By: Evan "Tex" Western

Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Rutgers corner loved competing with his older brother for two years, and he has his sights on beating Bo’s impressive 40 time.

Speed runs in the Melton family. Miles Bokeem Melton, known more commonly as “Bo,” ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds at the 2022 NFL Combine.

Max, two years Bo’s junior, plans to run even faster on Friday.

“Yes sir,” the Rutgers cornerback said when APC asked him on Thursday if he would beat his brother’s time. “I’m looking forward to proving that tomorrow.”

It would hardly be the first time that the two brothers have pushed one another to great heights. Max and Bo competed against one another almost daily for two years, once the younger Melton arrived on the Rutgers campus four years ago. It wasn’t always that way, however: The two both played wide receiver growing up, and Max only moved to defense during his final high school season. Much of their youth was spent working together on their craft, rather than against one another.

But that all changed in 2020. Suddenly, Max and Bo were working against each other day in and day out. “We’d be going at it in practice one on ones. Everybody knew not to hop up when Bo went because I was gonna hop up.”

That friendly rivalry helped push both players to become legitimate NFL prospects. Bo was a seventh-round draft pick by the Seattle Seahawks in 2022, though it took a change of scenery and a move to the Green Bay Packers before he found a role late in the 2023 season. Max, on the other hand, is projected to be drafted earlier in April, perhaps going off the board in the first 100 picks.

Max believes that his ability and potential as a slot corner is a reason NFL teams seem to think highly of him, and he relishes the idea of lining up in the slot. “You get to do way more on the inside,” he said. “I look at it as an opportunity, you get to blitz, you get to be in coverage, man, zone … it’s a fun position to play.”

That versatility extends to special teams as well. Melton was a four-year starter as a punt gunner, and in 2022 he blocked a whopping three punts to tie for the lead among all FBS players. One of those blocks came against 4th-ranked Michigan, as a teammate recovered the football for a touchdown:

The man wearing a chain that reads “Mad Max” at the podium may look like he’s charging the punter with reckless abandon, but that isn’t exactly accurate. In fact, this was simply a well-designed play. “I really give credit to all my teammates for all of my punt blocks,” he explained. “I lined up on the outside, end up blocking the punt right in front of their punter. I looped all the way inside and got there just in time. If one person did not do their job on that play, it definitely wouldn’t have worked.”

Big special teams plays are a bonus, of course, and Melton will primarily be drafted for his work on defense. In that regard, Melton feels that his experience as a receiver helps significantly. “I played receiver so route recognition, that’s a thing that I feel like I’m good at.” He also credits Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano for helping develop him, and he looks at some of the corners that Schiano helped develop as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator as good comparisons.

“I look at myself like Marshon Lattimore or Denzel Ward-type,” Max said. “We have a similar body type, 6-foot, 190-something. Those guys are very patient, and yeah I definitely model my game after them.”

Those are good role models to look up to, of course. Lattimore was the 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year and is a 4-time Pro Bowler, while Ward has been to three Pro Bowls of his own, including in 2023. Indeed, Melton measures up similarly to those two, coming in at 5-foot-11 and 187 pounds on Friday; Ward was 5-foot-10 7/8 and 183 pounds while Lattimore was 6 feet flat and 193.

Melton’s testing results may also put him in a similar space to them. If he does indeed beat Bo’s 40 time, he will be right there in the ballpark of those two Pro Bowlers — Ward ran at 4.32 in 2018 and Lattimore posted a 4.36 the year before.

And maybe, just maybe, the Packers will end up reuniting Max and Bo so they can compete on the practice field once again.

Originally posted on ACME Packing Company