When the Raiders open the 2018 season, they’ll have some new faces on defense. Veterans such as linebackers Derrick Johnson and Tahir Whitehead, ends Tank Carradine and Frostee Rucker and cornerback Rashaan Melvin have been added. All could play significant roles.
The former Indianapolis Colts standout, Melvin, could be one of the biggest impact players. Along with second-year man Gareon Conley, Melvin could help anchor a cornerback group that needs to improve significantly from 2017 if Oakland wants to contend in the AFC West.
Melvin, 28, started the past two seasons with the Colts and had three interceptions in 2017, along with 13 passes defensed and 36 tackles. The 6-foot-2, 196-pounder from Northern Illinois goes into the start of training camp – set for July 25 – excited by what he sees in Oakland on both offense and defense.
“It’s a veteran group,” Melvin said on Sirius XM NFL Radio recently. “We have a 12-year vet in every position group. We have guys who have been successful in the league and who can teach the young players how to be successful in the system. On offense we have the same thing, a running back and offensive line who have been together for a while and guys who have been to multiple Pro Bowls who can help mold the organization into what you want it to be.”
Melvin said he was eager to sign with the Raiders as a free agent because of the Oakland fans, the talent on the roster and the enthusiasm of head coach Jon Gruden.
Said Melvin: “Gruden is there. He’s a wonderful coach. His style of coaching, the energy he brings to the team, for me that’s a spotlight. There will be a lot of eyes on the team. It’s an opportunity for me to show that I am one of the very best cornerbacks in the NFL. That’s why I chose to go to Oakland.”
Melvin last year graded as the 17th-best corner in the NFL, according to the analytic website Pro Football Focus. Melvin’s play could be a boost to a defense that ranked 26thin the NFL in pass defense in 2017, giving up 241.1 yards per game.