Prospect Watch: S Obi Melifonwu

 

by Douglas O’Connor
you can follow on Twitter HERE

No one created more buzz at the NFL Combine than Henry William Obiajulu Melifonwu. A feat that is even more impressive once you factor in that the fastest 40 yard dash time ever was set during the same event. Melifonwu’s size to speed to power to weight ratio is something that makes NFL GM’s and scouts sit up and take serious notice.

Even with his other worldly combine numbers not all NFL Draft analyzers are sold that he is a first round talent. We are having a similar debate inside the walls of Real Bucs Talk HQ. Myself who has been on Obi since the Senior Bowl, am admittedly in love with what he could bring to the secondary of our Tampa Bay Buccaneers. My shortsighted colleagues, Michael Pless and Mark Ramirez, are labeling him a project player that doesn’t deserve any consideration when the Bucs pick at 19 in this years draft.

If you are in my camp and like Melifonwu as a possibility at 19, this article will give you some background about Obi and how I think his skills will transfer to the NFL. If you side with Scrooge’s, Ebenezer and McDuck, hopefully by the end of your read you will have left the dark side and reconsidered giving an immigrant from England a chance. Yes, Obi Melifonwu was born in England.

UNBELIEVABLE!

Obi Melifonwu (DB – @UConnFootball) has a 44″ vertical jump. 😱😱😱 #NFLCombine pic.twitter.com/F3YCqaWdNo

— NFL (@NFL) March 6, 2017

Senior Bowl Week
 

Melifonwu first came to my attention when I was going over the rosters for the Senior Bowl. Scanning positions that I felt are needs for the Bucs. WR, RB, TE then I came to S. 6’4″ 220lbs! Who is this guy? After I did same digging I wasn’t sold yet. The biggest red flag for me was his “lack of instincts” but I’ll get to that later.  He also wasn’t seen as an NFL cover ready safety. After a week of practice under NFL coaches (Bears) Obi put that stigma to rest. In one-on-one drills receiver after receiver couldn’t shake him and by the end of the week Melifonwu had raised his draft stock as much as any player.

The Combine
 
     Just about every NFL scout will tell you that most important process during combine week is the medical. Side note. Some prospects are strapped in a isokinetic machine called a Cybrex. This machine is used to test strength of joints and surrounding muscles. If a player has had a shoulder, ankle or knee injury in college you can bet that teams are strapping them into one of these. I found this video to better explain what exactly an isokinetic machine looks like and does. I used this video because it goes over the reasons why the machine is used more than trying to achieve specific results. What does this have to do with Melifonwu? Absolutely nothing. I am just taking the chance to show you something that isn’t discussed much, if at all in the media. Warning: The Video Is Boring.

Okay back to Obi.

You’ve probably read about his combine results by now but I’m going to go over them anyway. 6’4″ 224lbs, 4.40 40 yard dash, 44″ vertical jump and a 141″ broad jump. All good enough for first place in each drill amongst safeties at the combine. Now he didn’t run the 3 cone drill or the shuttle drills which measure speed in change of direction. That is a small red flag. Overall it’s hard to argue that Melifonwu didn’t have the best combine of the over 300+ players invited.

What Does It All Mean?
     Pundits of Obi Melifonwu will point to his lack of recognizing plays quickly. More of a reactive player, and his tape does show that. To this I say, coaching.
     Are all NFL head coaches the same? No, some are better than others. Are all NFL secondary coaches the same? No, some are better then others. Are all FBS head coaches the same? You can see where I’m going with this. How far down the coaching scale do you have to go before you get to the University of Connecticut secondary coach? It’s not a knock on the U Conn coaching staff, cream just rises to the top and the top is the NFL.
     The Buccaneers need another safety. They carried 4 safeties on the 53 man roster all of last year and for the most part carried 2 more on the practice squad as well. The 2 best safeties will be off the board when it’s the Bucs turn to pick at 19 in the first round and Melifonwu won’t be there for the Bucs to select him in the second round at 50. So with needs at WR, RB, TE and possibly Edge why take Obi at 19?
     It’s my belief that in 5 years there will be somewhere between 5-10 safeties in the NFL with Melifonwu’s measurables. It’s going to be the natural counter to all the 6’4″+ TE that run sub 4.6 40’s coming into the league. This years combine TE group ran the fastest on average than any other in history. Led by Evan Engram’s 4.42 at 234lbs, followed by O.J. Howard’s 4.51 he’s 251lbs folks.
     Instead of waiting to play catch up. Be preemptive and take the guy now. It may take 6 games before he breaks into the starting lineup but you’re set at safety for the next 5 years and when was the last time Buc fans could say that! #MicDrop
     Finally a little something for your viewing pleasure. (He was actually upset at his 44″ vert! He wanted the all time record!)

 

😱11’9″ Broad Jump
🆙44″ Vertical Jump
🏃4.40s 40-yard Dash🇬🇧-born safety @Obi_1nOnly was INCREDIBLE on Day 4 of the #NFLCombine pic.twitter.com/OWVIbksNES

— NFL UK (@NFLUK) March 7, 2017

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thanks for reading and as always GO BUCS!

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