Are you getting tired of hearing about what a great pick Obi Melifonwu was for the Raiders in the second round? Well, if you are, I’m not sure why you would click on this article, because there’s more coming.
Most of the positive mentions have come since the Raiders selected him at 56 overall in the second round. For instance my assertion that he may be the final piece in the Raiders attempts to construct their own Legion of Boom 2.0.
But even before Melifonwu was to don a Raiders uniform, there was a lot of talk about him one of the draft’s top safeties. As far as strong safeties go, he was arguably THE best in this draft and landed atop of the list of safeties in my Raider Draft Radar series.
While he may be an ideal strong safety, he is not limited to the abilities of that position. The 6-3, 217-pounder staring 48 games over four years at UConn, offering a mountain of film to nitpick his skills.
Scouts who poured through his tape along with watching him tear up the scouting combine, had a few things to say about Melifonwu to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel during the pre-draft process.
“He reminded me of Deone Bucannon because he can play in the box and in space,” said one scout. “Physical. Square tackler. I was shocked. He’s big and he can run. I think he’s too big for corner. He can replace a ‘backer in the box because he can cover.”
He can run, alright. He ran a 4.40 40-yard dash at the combine, which was tops among safeties. He can also jump out the stadium, hitting a combine best 44-inch vertical jump and 11’9” broad jump. That’s at ALL positions, not just safety.
Standing at 6-3 with 32.5-inch arms, there isn’t much out of his reach.
“He looks the part,” said another scout. “He’s more of a downhill type but he brings a presence.”
This description matches Jack Del Rio’s thoughts on Melifonwu’s talents.
“I think he can do a lot of different things,” Del Rio said of Melifonwu following day two of the draft. “He’s very gifted athletically. The tape is good. He’s done a variety of roles. He’s played on tight ends. He’s played on receivers. He’s been in the back. He’s been in post safeties. Kind of done a little bit of everything. He’ll come up and strike you. We like him and happy to be able to get him.”
At very least in the short term, Melifonwu offers the defense options with Reggie Nelson and Karl Joseph. At most, he could step in as the starting strong safety, moving Karl Joseph to his more well suited free safety spot.