Elmwood Park Native Among 11 Players From NJ Selected In 2024 NFL Draft

Nearly a dozen football players from the Garden State heard their names called during the 2024 NFL Draft.

Rutgers cornerback Max Melton and Penn State offensive lineman Caedan Wallace were two of the New Jersey natives selected in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Rutgers cornerback Max Melton and Penn State offensive lineman Caedan Wallace were two of the New Jersey natives selected in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Photo Credit: Instagram - @cardinals and @joeyporterjr

Eleven players with New Jersey ties were selected in the draft from Thursday, Apr. 25 to Saturday, Apr. 27 in Detroit. The top Jersey draft pick was Max Melton, a Mays Landing native who played cornerback at Rutgers.

Melton was taken in the second round with the 43rd overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals. He's the highest-drafted Scarlet Knight since defensive end Kemoko Turay was selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the 52nd overall pick in 2018.

According to his draft profile, Melton was given a prospect grade of 6.24, which said he "will eventually be [an] average starter." The Cedar Creek High School graduate ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash and posted a 40.5-inch vertical jump at the NFL Scouting Combine.

While in Piscataway, Melton had eight interceptions, 30 passes defended, 114 tackles, and four blocked punts in 43 games for the Scarlet Knights. He was also a fourth-team all-Big Ten selection, according to college football reporter Phil Steele.

The Cardinals posted an Instagram video of the phone call their front office had with Melton when he was told he was heading to Arizona.

"We had a great visit with you when you came in here and in a few minutes, we're going to make you an Arizona Cardinal," general manager Monti Ossenfort said to Melton. "We're fired up. You're going to come here and help us out. You're going to cover the receivers, you're going to play special teams, and you got a lot of upside ahead of you."

"Congratulations, I hear that smile!" head coach Jonathan Gannon said to Melton. "Enjoy it, man. I'm excited."

Former Alabama legendary coach and new ESPN commentator Nick Saban had plenty of praise for Melton.

"This is my sleeper corner in the whole draft," said Saban. "He's made a lot of picks. He can play the ball in the air. He's a fast reactor. I really like this guy."

"Mad Max" is following his brother Bo Melton to the NFL. The Green Bay Packers wide receiver had 16 catches for 218 yards and a touchdown in 2023.

The brothers could line up against each other this upcoming season since the Cardinals will play at the Packers. The NFL's schedule for the 2024 season will be released in May.

In the third round, the New England Patriots selected Penn State offensive lineman and Robbinsville native Caedan Wallace. The Hun School of Princeton alum started all 13 games at right tackle for the Nittany Lions in 2023, giving up just one sack and earning an all-Big Ten honorable mention.

Wallace may soon block for one of the highest-profile picks of the draft. The Patriots selected North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye with the third overall pick.

Kentucky running back and Blair Academy alum Ray Davis was picked in the fourth round by the Buffalo Bills. He also played two seasons at Temple and two more at Vanderbilt, rushing for 3,626 yards and 29 touchdowns in his college career.

Three Jersey natives went in the fifth round: Maryland cornerback Tarheeb Still, Notre Dame running back Audric Estimé, and Colorado State defensive end Mohamed Kamara. Still is from Sicklerville and was drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers.

Estimé, who played at Saint Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, was chosen by the Denver Broncos. Newark native Kamara was taken by the Miami Dolphins.

Boston College offensive lineman and Elmwood Park native Christian Mahogany was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the sixth round. The Paramus Catholic High School alum's draft stock took a hit when he missed the entire 2022 season after tearing his right ACL in June.

Kentucky quarterback and Sicklerville native Devin Leary was also taken in the sixth round. The Timber Creek Regional High School alum will head to the Baltimore Ravens and learn behind star QB Lamar Jackson, who was the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 2023.

Notre Dame defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste, Holy Cross offensive lineman C.J. Hanson, and Purdue safety Sanoussi Kane were drafted in the seventh round. Jean-Baptiste is a Bergen Catholic High School alum who will head south to play with the Washington Commanders.

Hanson, a Wyckoff native and DePaul Catholic High School alum, was selected by the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. Kane, a Blair Academy alum, will join Leary on the Ravens.

Several other Jersey players will get a shot at making an NFL roster as undrafted free agents. Monmouth running back Jaden Shirden signed with the Carolina Panthers after he was the Walter Camp Foundation's 2023 FCS Player of the Year.

Two undrafted linebackers also signed deals with the Ravens: Sicklerville native Deion Jennings from Rutgers and Egg Harbor Township native Yvandy Rigby from Tempe.

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