It might be the birthplace of college football, but Rutgers University hasn’t been a consistent contributor of talent to the NFL. That should change in the 2022 NFL Draft, with Rutgers WR Bo Melton in position to break a drought of professional pass catchers from the program dating back to 2016. The speedy receiver has an exciting scouting report, and Melton has the potential to increase his stock at the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Bo Melton NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Wide receiver
- School: Rutgers
- Current Year: Graduate senior
- Height: 5’11”
- Weight: 195 pounds
Bo Melton Scouting Report
Every year, the NFL Draft process uncovers a wide receiver talent that has been trapped in a turgid offense. Last season, it was Tennessee’s Josh Palmer who arrived in Mobile as an unheralded pass catcher but showcased his skill set when free from the shackles of his college offense. Palmer is now doing his business with the Los Angeles Chargers in the NFL.
When the NFL descends on Mobile once more this February, Rutgers WR Melton has the potential to see a similar boost in his 2022 NFL Draft stock. With a lack of eye-catching production during his five years in Piscataway, Melton might not stand out in a deep wide receiver class. However, his scouting report shines a light on a versatile skill set.
Once upon a time, size was a prerequisite for receiving success in the NFL. But as the game has evolved, teams have diversified their desires at the position. Tyreek Hill has shown that speed kills, and if you can get open with speed, you’re a valuable commodity. Melton isn’t on Hill’s level. Nonetheless, he showcases excellent speed, with a late-4.3-second 40-yard dash possible when he attends the 2022 NFL Combine.
Yet, Melton’s athletic ability isn’t solely predicated on long speed. The Rutgers WR can accelerate with impressive suddenness. You can routinely see him deceiving defenders with a jogging pace that explodes into a sprint that leaves them yards behind. Additionally, he possesses decent lateral agility and change-of-direction ability. He uses these tools to separate as a route runner, but he also becomes a dangerous weapon after the catch.
An after-the-catch weapon with deceptive physicality and impressive versatility
There’s another element of his scouting report that helps Melton as an after-the-catch threat. Despite his smaller stature — something we’ll explore later –, he possesses an incredibly strong lower half of his body. This allows him to fight through contact and grind out extra yardage. He’s rarely stopped on first contact. This is evident on tape, but teammate Julius Turner also attested to it.
“He’s physical like that. One thing about him is that he’s strong. He may not look like it, but he’s strong and physical,” Turner said of Melton in an exclusive interview with Pro Football Network Draft Director Cam Mellor.
The Rutgers wide receiver displays some alluring attributes at the catch point. He makes impressive adjustments to the ball, showcasing impressive body control and ball-tracking ability. Furthermore, Melton possesses excellent spatial awareness, with an array of bewildering toe-tap catches throughout his Rutgers career.
To summarize, Melton is a speedy receiver who excels in creating yardage with the ball in his hands. Rutgers has used him in multiple ways, including on jet sweeps and screens. He poses a versatile threat who can also contribute as a kick returner on special teams. He should provide stellar value as a Day 3 pick. Melton can solidify this 2022 NFL Draft projection with an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl.
Areas for improvement
Although Melton has the scouting report to justify a Day 3 selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, there are some areas for improvement. Furthermore, some factors could limit his ceiling in the NFL, and as a result, will curtail a rise any higher than the later rounds of this upcoming draft class.
At 5’11” and 195 pounds, the NFL likely views Melton as a smaller wide receiver. Although he’s seen snaps outside the numbers for Rutgers, this likely limits his WR role to the slot at the next level. If he is considered a depth chart piece early in his career, that limitation could prove costly. That said, his special-teams ability might mitigate this, as will his ability to be a gadget player in an offense.
In addition to his size, some issues at the catch point might limit his effectiveness as a pure receiver at the next level. There were too many instances of dropped balls in contested-catch situations in the games studied. Melton needs to prove he can be a more reliable ball catcher when faced with contact.
An area of improvement that would increase his stock is at the line of scrimmage. Melton has a limited package of releases. Instead, he relies on winning with speed and acceleration further down the field. If he can add a variety of release packages to his game, that would help his stock.
Melton Player Profile
While Melton is creating excitement in the 2022 NFL Draft class, it isn’t the first time there’s been a buzz around the Rutgers WR. An accomplished athlete out of Mays Landing, New Jersey, the Cedar Creek High School star was a Cape Atlantic League champion in the 200m, 400m, and long jump. Additionally, he competed on the school basketball team.
Although he received his first college offer in the September of his junior season, Melton truly rose to prominence on the football field during the course of that 2015 campaign. A versatile offensive weapon, he rushed for 742 yards and 13 touchdowns. Meanwhile, he tallied 676 yards and 11 touchdowns off 21 receptions as a receiver.
Accolades rained down from every direction. Melton was named the Offensive Player of the Year by the Star Post. He was also named the Cape Atlantic League Player of the Year by the Star Ledger and earned first-team All-State honors. Unsurprisingly, his recruitment exploded like his play, with the four-star wide receiver holding over 25 offers, including from powerhouses such as Oregon, Ohio State, and Michigan.
However, one program held greater sway than all the others. His father, Gary Melton, had been a wide receiver and running back at Rutgers. His mother, Vicky, had played on the basketball team for the Scarlet Knights in the early 90s. Having visited the program in October 2015, his mind was made up — Melton committed in April 2016.
“It feels great to go to the same school my parents attended. My mom can’t stop shaking I’m gonna be honest. And my dad, he’s very happy. For my mom and dad to go there, and for me to go there, it’s like I’m making them proud,” Melton told NJ.com. “And that’s one thing a kid always wants for their parents, to make them proud.”
In addition to making his parents proud, the wide receiver was a marquee signing for Rutgers. Historically, they’d struggled to recruit within the state of New Jersey, especially with players of Melton’s potential. Despite missing time in his senior high school season with injury, he showcased how special he could be with another 1,000+ all-purpose-yard season and a multitude of accolades.
Melton’s career at Rutgers
In addition to the familiarity with the program, Melton figured that Rutgers would allow him to see early action. Sure enough, he became only the sixth true freshman since 2002 to start a season opener for the program when he suited up against Washington. Although he made three starts in 2017 and impressed on special teams, the Rutgers WR finished the season with just 4 receptions for 83 yards.
He equaled his career receptions on the very first game of his sophomore season. His 57 yards in that game against Texas State and a then-career-high 70 yards against Illinois contributed to a season total of 245 receiving yards. Establishing himself as a chain-moving weapon, Melton picked up 12 first downs from his 28 receptions in 2018.
Emerging as the leader of Rutgers’ WR room
However, a touchdown was still missing from his résumé as he prepared for his third season in Piscataway. Melton quickly remedied that in the 2019 season opener. The Rutgers WR opened his junior campaign with 127 yards and a score against UMass. He established himself as the team leader, becoming the first Rutgers wide receiver since 2015 to have a reception in every game. Over half of his 30 receptions resulted in a first down.
Up until this point, Melton had been primarily used as a wide receiver. Nonetheless, in the disrupted season of 2020, he emerged as a disruptive force in multiple facets of the game. While he snagged a career-high 150 receiving yards against Illinois and had consecutive 100-yard games for the first time in his career, the Rutgers WR contributed 942 all-purpose yards. Moreover, he tallied 6 receiving touchdowns, 2 rushing scores, and returned a punt to the end zone. As a result, he earned an All-Big Ten honorable mention.
Melton earns a Senior Bowl invite following another standout season
His escapades in 2020 saw Melton begin his graduate senior season on the Biletnikoff Award watch list. As a receiver, he snagged 100-plus-yard games against Delaware and Northwestern. However, his outstanding performance once again came as a dangerous threat in multiple phases. The Rutgers WR tallied a career-high 217 all-purpose yards against Maryland: 48 receiving yards, 36 rushing, 108 on kickoffs, and 7 on punts.
Melton ended his final season with 823 all-purpose yards and 3 touchdowns. His performance earned him All-Big Ten honors from multiple outlets. The Scarlet Knights playmakers was also named the team MVP. Still, crucially for his chances of success at the next level, he received an invite to the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl. With the opportunity to impress scouts in Mobile, Melton has the potential to be just the eighth Rutgers WR to be selected in the NFL Draft.
He’s already impressed his own teammate as a captain for the program. They fully expect him to be representing Rutgers at the next level. During his interview with Pro Football Network, Rutgers defensive tackle Turner gave a glowing review that serves as the perfect end to Melton’s scouting report.
“Bo Melton is a special talent. I’m not just saying this because I played with him, but he’s a special talent. I can’t wait to see him in the league, see what he does in the NFL.”