Monday, March 06, 2017

UConn's Melifonwu steals the show at NFL combine

A former UConn defensive back is sending social media into overdrive thanks to some eye-opening performances at the NFL Scouting Combine. Wait, I think I've written those words before.

Two years ago Byron Jones went from an intriguing prospect who figured to be a second-day pick in the NFL draft to becoming one of the most talked about players in the 2015 draft who not only was taken in the first round by the Dallas Cowboys but recorded 100 tackles in his second NFL season.

Now it is Obi Melifonwu's turn.

Melifonwu already opened more than a few eyes with his play at practice during Senior Bowl week and he followed that up with an absolutely thunderous hit in the game as well. That merely set the stage for what is he doing today at the scouting combine.

Melifonwu topped all defensive backs with a 44-inch vertical jump and with a broad jump of 11 feet, 9 inches (which are also the top marks among all competitors at the combine). He also clocked an unofficial time of 4.40 in the 40-yard dash which is tied for fifth among the defensive backs and did all of this at 6-foot-4 and 224 pounds.

This is not a case of a player merely impressing in track and field drills either. Melifonwu led UConn with 118 tackles as a senior (24 coming against Tulane in his final game as a Husky) to go along with four interceptions. It should be noted that three of his four interceptions as a senior came against ranked teams and he averaged more than eight tackles in seven career games against ranked teams.

Also, much like Jones he's a top-notch student as well. He's a little more reserved than Jones but I would have to think he will interview well. I thought he displayed plenty of growth as a player especially this season as he went from playing next to Andrew Adams to having the other starting safeties with little or no previous game experience. Earlier in the season is appeared like Melifonwu was trying to overcompensate for the lack of experience of the other safeties on the roster by trying to play two positions at the same time. Once he settled in and just concerned himself with his responsibilities, the quality of his play improved dramatically.

For more on Melifonwu, here's the story I did on him before the start of the season.

There were some suggestions that Melifonwu could sneak into the first round at next month's NFL draft and that chatter only figures to increase after what he accomplished today.

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