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2017 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Obi Melifonwu, S, UConn

Could the Giants add the explosive UConn safety to their stacked secondary?

NCAA Football: East Carolina at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants invested a huge amount in their defense in 2016’s free agency, but what really ignited their defense was the emergence of Landon Collins as a legitimate Defensive Player of The Year candidate.

Many were skeptical when the Giants moved up in the second round of the 2015 draft to select the big, athletic safety from Alabama, but after emerging as one of the best defensive backs in the NFL, those skeptics are few and far between.

With exciting rookies Andrew Adams and Darian Thompson also in the fold, it doesn’t seem likely that the Giants would invest highly in their secondary again this year. But could they become enamored with one of the true physical freaks of the draft and select a defensive back anyway?

Let’s take a closer look at UConn’s Obi Melifonwu



  • Elite blend of height, weight, speed, and lower-body explosiveness.
  • Fearless coming downhill against the run.
  • Shows good feet and smooth hips in coverage.
  • Improved every year at UConn


  • Occasionally takes poor angles to the ball.
  • Shows some hesitancy in coverage. Waits a beat, or even for the play to develop before breaking on the ball.

Does He Fit With The Giants?

The prospect of pairing a player like Melifonwu with Landon Collins is an enticing one. He has the athleticism to man a deep half or the centerfield while Collins does what he does best and roam near the line of scrimmage. Having a pair of big safeties like that would make for an intimidating sight indeed.

Steve Spagnuolo’s multiple defense would make it likely that he could find snaps for Melifonwu and the rest of his talented safeties. Perhaps playing alongside players like Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Collins, and Darian Thompson would help accelerate Melifonwu’s mental development.

The bigger question is whether or not the Giants can afford to make the pick.

Prospect Video

Big Board Rankings

Big Blue View - 39th overall

CBS Sports - 26th overall

Draft Countdown - 30th overall

Draft Tek - 34th overall

Final Thoughts

The phrase gets tossed around a lot when it comes to scouting -- probably too much. But in this case it is true and apt: UConn’s Obi Melifonwu is a physical and athletic freak.

Defensive backs just are not supposed to be as tall and big as he is. Players as big as he is aren’t supposed to jump like he can or run as fast.

From a physical and athletic standpoint, Melifonwu leaps off the screen and will be almost impossible for teams to pass on for long. However, his physical upside is tempered by an almost over-cautious approach to the game. For all his size and explosiveness, he doesn’t play as fast as some less imposing safeties.

If he can develop the mental part of his game, and become a more instinctive player, he could have a serious impact at the next level. Some team will bet on that upside and take him either late in the 1st round or early in the second round.