If you watched any Senior Bowl coverage in late January, you more than likely caught wind of a safety out of UConn by the name of Obi Melifonwu. Of all the players who participated in the All Star event down in Mobile, Melifonwu was the player who gained arguably the most hype throughout the week – when it was all said and done, some even pointed as high as the 1st round where Melifonwu could land come April.
The main cause for his skyrocketing draft stock came at Senior Bowl weigh-ins where Melifonwu was measured at 6’4” and weighing in at 219 pounds. His frame and length in the backend of the secondary is rare to come by, but does he back it up on the film, or would that be too good to be true?
Name: Obi Melifonwu
Class: Senior (RS)
Draft Grade: 4th Round
Positives: Stands out in the backend of the secondary with his size and 6’4” frame. Can afford to add 5 more pounds or so to fill out his frame. Holds his own in man coverage and sticks to his man well, especially as the help safety. Closes in on the deep ball effectively. Showed flashes against the run and put on a clinic against Houston (2016). Can read run plays well and react. Still raw and has high potential.
Negatives: Needs to use size to his advantage. Lacks ideal aggressiveness and physicality from a safety of his stature. Poor positioning on deep balls – has the size to box out receivers but fails to do so. Shies away from making contact on passes to the endzone. Soft tackler and engages ball carrier/blocks with light physicality which usually pushes him back a couple yards. Approaches the ball carrier with unorthodox body positioning posing a liability against spin moves. Struggles taking on blocks. Slow foot speed and lacks viable quickness/agility in the open field. Unbalanced and falls down a lot. Takes poor routes in pursuit when in space. Continues to backpedal with the receiver in zone coverage instead of efficiently closing the cushion. Received hype during Senior Bowl week, but didn’t show up in the game itself.
Outlook: Melifonwu is really tough for me to gauge. There is so much hype, yet the film doesn’t standout at all. You have to love his size towering size at 6’4”, but he really fails to take advantage of his. The upside is evident. He shows potential both back in coverage and as a run supporter. However, it will be really interesting to see if he can put it all together. In a deep safety class, especially at the top, I think there are better options at the position. Melifonwu presents upside in the 4th round, but he’ll likely land at some point on Day 2. I wouldn’t trust him as an immediate starter.