Saturday, April 29, 2017

UConn's Melifonwu taken by Raiders in 2nd round

There was some buzz about Obi Melifonwu becoming the third UConn player taken in the first round of the NFL draft and I thought at worst, he would be taken in the top 50.

As it turns out, neither of those things took place but he was selected by the Oakland Raiders with the 56th overall pick.

"I definitely thought it was going to play out a little differently but I am a strong believer in faith and everything happens for a reason," Melifonwu said. "At the end of the day  knew that if I stayed patient, I would get picked up by the right team."

Melifonwu seemingly was visiting a different team on a daily basis as part of the "top 30" visit as each team can bring in 30 prospects not from their geographic area (those players can come to a local pro day and not count against the players visiting) but none of those visits happened to be Oakland. He did meet with the Raiders at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine but it was not among the teams he thought would be taking him. Oakland's track record of getting the size, speed guys is well documented and Melifonwu certainly fits that bill as he posted the best numbers in the broad jump and vertical leap at the combine while running 4.4 in the 40 at 224 pounds.

"He is very gifted athletically, his tape is good," Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. "He's done a variety of roles, he's played on tight ends, he's played on receivers, he's been in the backfield, he's kind of done a little bit of everything."

Melifonwu watched the draft with friends and family in his South Grafton, Massachusetts home.

"We just at back, relaxed and watched the draft together," Melifonwu said.

While some prospects would be a nervous wreck as teams passed on them, watching the draft is Melifonwu's definition of  being "relaxed."

Picks tend to back up during the televised coverage of the draft so word can leak out before a pick is officially announced and that was the case here as Twitter was full of people reporting that Melifonwu was going to the Raiders with pick No. 56.

"My phone was buzzing before that because of Twitter notifications and text messages so when I finally got the call, it was exciting," Melifonwu said. "My family was ecstatic, it was honestly just a great moment. It was one of the best moments of my life. They have been here with me through thick and thin and I am was glad it was a moment that I got to share with them."

Rounds 4-7 are set for Saturday beginning at noon. We'll have to see if any UConn players get taken on the final day of the draft.


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