2017 Raiders Draft Profile: Safety Obi Melifonwu

Sep 27, 2014; East Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies safety Obi Melifonwu (20) celebrates against the Temple Owls during the first half at Rentschler Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

2017 Raiders Draft Preview

Name: Obi Melifonwu

Position: S

School: Connecticut

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 224 pounds

Stats: 349 tackles, 11 TFL, 8 INT, 2 FF, 2 FR


Ball Skills: Normally, catch radius pertains to wide receivers or tight ends. Yet, Obi isn’t the average safety. Blessed with a vulture-like wingspan, Obi tracks the ball and uses his reach to break on the ball. Whether he guesses wrong or not, the length always keeps him in the play. In prime position, Obi possesses above average timing and coordination. With this in mind, the tools exist for him to excel at the next level.



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Tackling: Although Obi isn’t a lights-out striker in the mold of Karl Joseph, he makes plays going forward. As a result, run support is a strength. Obi’s breakdown, coupled with the above mentioned reach assists him greatly versus RBs. More importantly, Obi will attack the line of scrimmage to make a play. While some DB make business decisions to weakly attempt a tackle, Obi shoots into the pile.

Technique: In effect, Obi’s overwhelming athleticism is considered his biggest enemy. Standing 6’4” and long-limbed as a DB is a challenge. The tape displays occasional lapses in a fluid backpedal. As a result, the higher the backpedal, the more difficult it is for the defender to break on the ball. With a strong DB coach, Obi will learn to trust his stride and iron out this issue.


Aggression: Obi’s aggression manifests itself in the want to make big plays. That coupled with the skill to cover tight ends vertically. Also, he will return any jostling by opponents with the same in kind. The NFL will not mentally break Obi. Here and there, you’ll see Obi flash a temper, which is exactly what coaches push for. Reserved and laid-back rookies make little impact.


Raiders Role: While Karl Joseph plays downhill with force, aggression and intensity, having a big safety erases many of the concerns regarding height. Obi would give the Raiders a rangy playmaker with the ability to roll down the seam or jump down in coverage to attack the run. Reggie Nelson could serve as a mentor. Oakland needs a more athletic secondary, especially with larger CBs. The safeties need to compensate with activity.



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