After going unclaimed on waivers following his release from the Oakland Raiders, Safety Obi Melifonwu is the latest reject from John Gruden's Oakland Raiders to test the waters at The Star with the Dallas Cowboys.
Melifonwu was the Raiders' second round pick in 2017. The athletic safety out of UCONN was never able to get his NFL career off the ground in Oakland, losing all but five games his rookie year to injury before being waived this August.
At the time of his draft, the Cowboys showed interest in pairing Melifonwu with a Connecticut stud of their own – Byron Jones. A year later, Jones is playing at an elite level at cornerback upon the arrival of Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard, and the team's intrigue into Melifonwu is sustained.
Source: Former #Raiders S Obi Melifonwu is visiting the #Cowboys today. He went unclaimed yesterday off waivers.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 25, 2018
A pre-draft visitor to the Cowboys, Melifonwu is still searching for a team that can identify his strengths and let him play to them. Asked to do it all in college, evaluating Melifonwu as a next level prospect was difficult.
“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.”
This quote comes from my scouting report on how Melifonwu fit the Cowboys back in 2017 before the draft. With Kavon Frazier, Jeff Heath, and Xavier Woods all showing deficiencies against the run at different times this season, Melifonwu could improve a Cowboys rush defense that currently ranks 10th in yards per game.
If the Cowboys learn anything from players that the Raiders have recently moved on from, it's that they're poised for a breakout – at the very least their hopes for Amari Cooper at wide receiver.
Melifonwu deserves to test the waters of free agency, meaning that an immediate signing with Dallas is unlikely. The Cowboys do not play again until November 5th, and when they do take the field at AT&T Stadium (with a 3-0 home record) it could be with significant upgrades at wide receiver and safety.