When the Oakland Raiders selected 6’4”, 225-pound strong safety Obi Melifonwu it was for the purpose of covering tight ends like Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski this offseason. But the 2017 second-round pick has not been given that chance since he’s been a Raider.
Melifonwu started of on IR with a designation to return due to a knee injury. Then after he saw limited action against the Miami Dolphins in week 9, the Raiders inexplicably started him at cornerback the following week. And of all people, he was assigned to cover New England Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks, one of the fastest players in the NFL.
Melifonwu is a great athlete with great speed for his size but asking him to stay with a guy that fast and 36 pounds lighter asking a bit much. So, needless to say, it didn’t go well as Tom Brady went at him, getting a 64-yard touchdown pass to Cooks out of it.
The Raiders should understand that he was out of position but it seems as if they are punishing him for that performance. Since that game, they’ve given him only one snap against the Denver Broncos and none against the New York Giants and TE Evan Engram. Engram touched the Raiders up for seven catches for 99 yards and a TD.
This week, it’s the Kansas City Chiefs and Travis Kelce, who leads all NFL TE’s this season with 66 catches for 871 yards.
Melifonwu, with his freak athleticism for his size, was made to cover TE’s like Kelce. And the Raiders are getting healthy at the CB position while free safety Reggie Nelson has been a liability this year. So it seems logical to move Karl Joseph to free safety and allow Melifonwu to do what he was drafted to do at SS.