2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Ifeatu Melifonwu

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Ifeatu Melifonwu

by January 29, 2021 5 comments

In the NFL, there are plenty of cases where it is a family affair. First, you think of the Manning’s, Watt’s, Kelce’s, the list goes on. Trevon and Stefon Diggs were both recently brought back as brother’s in the league. Now, there is another case coming into the league. In 2017, the Raiders took Obi Melifonwu in the second round of the draft. Now, in 2021, his brother, Ifeatu Melifonwu, is next to the big leagues. The younger Melifonwu brother originally spent time at safety before transitioning to cornerback for the Orange. 

Make sure to check out all of our other 2021 NFL Draft Scouting Reports

Player Bio

Name: Ifeatu Melifonwu

Jersey: #2

Position: Cornerback

School: Syracuse

Class: Redshirt Junior

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 212 lbs

Man Coverage (8.5/10) 

Melifonwu was asked to play zone far more than man coverage for Syracuse. Despite not playing in man coverage very often, he was excellent in this regard. Melifonwu was left alone on an island for the Orange. In doing so, he didn’t have much of an issue in this regard. 

Zone Coverage (8/10)

Cover players, not grass. This seems to be an issue for Melifonwu in zone coverage. He seems to get lost in his zone when the play goes on longer than expected. 

Change of Direction (7.75/10) 

Melifonwu is one of the taller cornerbacks in the draft. Even with his size, he is quick in his ability to switch directions when a receiver makes a break in his route. 

Ball Skills (9.5/10)

Melifonwu’s 13 pass breakups and three interceptions over the last two years don’t tell the full story here. He has elite ball skills. Melifonwu can make a break on the defender and get his arm in the way of the defender, and swat at the ball. There were plenty of occasions where Melifonwu would get a hand on the ball, and another defender would end up with the ball in his hands for the interception. 

Fluidity (8.5/10) 

At Syracuse, Melifonwu played far off of the ball at about eight to ten yards away from the receiver regularly. He’s great at reading and reacting to the receiver and maneuvering his way to break up the pass on the defender and be in position. 

Run Support (8.25/10)

One of the biggest concerns with cornerbacks is their effort against the run. Well, thankfully, teams won’t have to worry about that with Melifonwu. He is always attempting to make a tackle, and he isn’t afraid to light someone up. 

Tackling (8.75/10) 

Again, defensive coaches will fall in love with the fact he is a willing and able tackler. Unlike other cornerbacks, Melifonwu wraps up and drives through the ball-carrier instead of trying to shoulder tackle the runner. 

Route Recognition (8.25/10) 

At the Senior Bowl this week, you could see Melifonwu was good in this regard. He was solid at reading the receiver’s hips and working his way to the ball. 

Athleticism (6/10) 

Melifonwu has the height and weight. The only question is, does he have the speed? From some of his prior 40-yard dash times, his speed is a massive concern as the times were in the high 4.6’s and low 4.7’s. His play speed was a bit concerning on deep plays as well. This could very well be what drops Melifonwu down draft boards. 

Confidence (5/5) 

Melifonwu is very talkative. He’ll let you know when he makes a play against you by getting in your face. 

Injury (4.75/5) 

Melifonwu has a fairly clean injury history. He missed a game or two in 2019 with a lower-body injury. 

Player Summary 

Melifonwu has been a steady riser throughout the draft process and deservedly so. With Derion Kendrick returning to school, Melifonwu could very well take Kendrick’s spot as a bottom of the first-round or second-round player. He is a great coverage player that has elite ball skills. His main discrepancies are his play speed, along with his fluidity thanks to his size. Melifonwu could also be a candidate as a safety, where he originally played for Syracuse on the right team. 

Final Grade (83.25/100): Mid-Second Round 


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