Is the long-term starter next to Byron Jones at safety currently on the Dallas Cowboys roster? This is a key question that the team will have to address in the offseason considering the pending free agent status of both Barry Church and JJ Wilcox. Connecticut’s Obi Melifonwu could be a hybrid of both proven Cowboys’ safeties, another Huskies product that Dallas could consider in the 2017 NFL Draft.
What would an all-UCONN tandem at safety look like for America’s Team? Something like this.
Measuring in as the tallest safety by a wide margin at the 2017 Senior Bowl (6400), Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu did well to improve his stock while separating himself from the narrative that safeties with his height often don’t succeed in the NFL.
This film clip and quote comes from my full scouting report on Obi Melifonwu at Slant Sports, and is an example of some of the “flash plays” that make him an interesting prospect in this draft.
If Melifonwu was able to play this box safety position more in college, he could project as a first round safety that fits a Cowboys need almost perfectly. Instead, much of Obi Melifonwu’s evaluation to the NFL level is just that – a projection when it comes to how he can adjust for his size and play to his strengths.
Rangy plays like these that show up inconsistently on Obi Melifonwu’s tape do display NFL level traits in terms of length, tackling form, and play recognition.
As a downhill run defender, Melifonwu is often a step ahead of the offense with quick recognition skills and the speed to rally to the ball.
Not only could Melifonwu compliment Byron Jones in a similar “Barry Church” type role at the line of scrimmage, but he does flash as a deep safety with incredibly intriguing pro traits in run defense.
Obi Melifonwu’s best pro traits are his burst as a run defender, tackling ability, and length.
Never backing down from a chance to get to the football and finish, Melifonwu’s impact would be felt in Rod Marinelli’s defense right away as another athletic stud with room to develop into a draft day steal.
Unfortunately limited as a true pass defender, Melifonwu would have a very specific “enforcer” like role on the Cowboys defense – as they’ll also look for progression from Jeff Heath and second-year player Kavon Frazier.
Adding just one of Church and Wilcox back into the secondary along with Jones, Melifonwu, and the names above would make the back end of the Cowboys defense a unit that is ready to make a run through the NFC – with passing offenses like Atlanta, Green Bay, and Seattle potentially standing in their way.
Earning a third round grade on my 2017 NFL Draft Board, Obi Melifonwu could help the upcoming Dallas Cowboys draft class match the talent haul from the 2016 Draft in a literally big way.