There are hundreds of stories being told during the planning and anticipation of the 2017 NFL Draft. Today we will be looking at a scouting report for senior safety Obi Melifonwu Connecticut Huskies.
S-Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut 6’4” 219 lbs.
Small school prospect Melifonwu has been rising up the rankings with a great week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, starting with the weigh-in. He had over ten tackles or more in the seven of the games he played this season, including an amazing 24 of them against Tulane. Because I’m a high school football coach and educator by trade, let’s break down what I saw in the five games I reviewed of the senior playmaker: 2016 contests versus Houston, Cincinnati, and Virginia along with a 2015 game against South Florida and the 2017 Senior Bowl. Most of these game videos are available via draftbreakdown.com. Here are my thoughts:
Cons: Playing at a smaller school on the east coast, the level of competition, playing in the American Athletic Conference, always seems to be an issue that this young man will need to overcome. He is very aggressive in coverage and can get over-handsy with receivers. There were quite a few times Melifonwu was reading the receiver’s eyes and not looking for the ball himself. At the next level, the referees will be less likely to give him the benefit of the doubt on pass interference when he isn’t trying to make a play on the ball. When the safety made an interception, he used his body to make the catch and didn’t keep his balance. This makes him a tackle the catch player which will work in defenses like the Steelers but may not work for a more aggressive style defense like the Texans.
Pros: The young safety has good instincts and usually identifies where the ball is going a second before it is handed off or thrown, which allows him to break on it quickly. He mostly sat back in the free safety position on the weak side, but also lined up in the slot pressing at the line of scrimmage or as an outside linebacker in short yardage situations. Melifonwu has loose hips that allow him to change directions fluidly, which is impressive for a big safety. His motor is always running flowing from sideline to sideline as he plays the run and pass equally well. I was impressed with his backpedal, flexibility, and vision that give him the ability to fly around the field. The defender is a solid, wrap-up tackler that hits hard, but can also make open field tackles while taking good angles. If you need him to blitz the quarterback, Melifonwu can do that too.
Overall impressions: Not many defenders have flown up my board as quickly as Melifonwu has in recent weeks. He had an impressive week of practices against next level competition and did well. His value will be greatly determined by his landing spot, but I think he has the chance to be a solid fantasy contributor week one. I have him in my top four rookie safeties and look forward to seeing which teams are interested in him.
Let’s watch some tape of Melifonwu:
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