Name: Obi Melifonwu
Position fit: Strong safety
Stats to know: Finished 2016 ninth in run-stop percentage and 17th in tackling efficiency among FBS safeties.
What he does best:
- Ideal size, athleticism and physicality to play man against tight ends at the next level.
- Can cover a ton of ground in a flash and make it look easy because of his long stride.
- Played a variety of alignments at UConn and will offer the same level of versatility in the NFL.
- When he breaks down in space he is a solid open-field tackler who can wrap up and drive his man backward as well as adjust to quick cuts.
- Excels at running at full speed to his target and either locating the ball at the catch point or playing his man’s hands as the ball arrives.
- Closing, long speed uncommon for his size.
- Gave up more than 60 receiving yards in a game just four times total in the past two seasons.
- Held his own on multiple reps at cornerback during Senior Bowl practices.
- At times will attack the line of scrimmage out of control and overrun tackles.
- Not consistently physical with blockers – gets tied up too easily considering his size and strength.
- Can at times lose track of receivers through his zone by honing in too much on the QB.
- Will get too aggressive with run fits and leave cutback lanes into open space.
- 12 touchdowns against in three seasons, three in 2016.
Player comparison: Kam Chancellor, Seattle Seahawks
This comparison is low-hanging fruit, but the reality is there just isn’t another existing player in the NFL who can play up to Melifonwu’s ceiling based on his size and athleticism. Chancellor’s role is one that many teams try to emulate and Melifonwu is one of the few capable of living up to that type of hype.
Bottom line: At 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds, Melifonwu flashes the all-around athleticism uncommonly seen for a man his size. While he is certainly capable of covering the deep third, and displays the range and ball skills to close and make plays to the boundary with consistency, he is capable of making a bigger impact at the next level the closer he is to the line of scrimmage. His physicality is on display in man coverage, where he is not afraid to punch his man off the line of scrimmage and at the break point in order to stay on his hip. This makes him an intriguing matchup option against tight ends, which the league should view as his greatest area of upside. With such a rare combination of size and athleticism as well as the ability to tackle well in space, Melifonwu is possibly the most complete safety prospect in this draft class outside of LSU’s Jamal Adams, and is worth a top pick, particularly for teams coveting a classic strong safety.