Ifeatu Melifonwu Draft Profile
This doesn’t happen often, but when a prospect had a family member who was a “bust” in the NFL, evaluators will hold it against the prospect. This unfair evaluation is happening right now with Syracuse defensive back, Ifeatu Melifonwu. Melifonwu is an absolute beast and was a shut down corner for the Syracuse Orange last year. Similar to his brother Obi Melifonwu, Ifeatu is a genetic freak. Athleticism is off the charts for Melifonwu and it’s confusing as to why he isn’t being considered a day one pick.
The combination of instincts and athleticism makes Melifonwu a great zone corner prospect. In 2020, him and fellow NFL draft prospect, Andre Cisco, combined to form one of the best secondaries in college football. While Melifonwu shines in cover three and cover four, he is also really good in man coverage. His versatility should allow him to play in any system. Playing at 6’3 215 lbs., Melifonwu is very physical and a phenomenal tackler. His ability to separate from blocks and seal the edge lets him dominate against the run and on special teams. Melifonwu was a tackling machine, he had six games with six or more tackles in 2020 as a corner! He stood out on film in every game that I watched, especially against UNC receiver, Dyami Brown. Melifonwu was able to shut Brown down; there was one play in particular where he broke up a pass on a dig route, tipped the ball up, leading to an interception. Melifonwu has superb ball skills and is a very good corner prospect.
While Ifeatu Melifonwu is an athletic specimen, there are a few concerns in his game. The biggest worry I have with him is his ability to defend receivers at the top of their routes. At times, the field looks like it’s made out of ice because Melifonwu is slipping when having to plant. However, his speed and athleticism allows him to recover and catch up to his receiver. Even though Melifonwu is very good in man coverage, he isn’t great when having to press and play bump and run. There are also times where he takes poor angles in tackling. Overall, I think Melifonwu’s biggest flaws can be coached up and improved over time.
I’m a lot higher on Melifonwu than the media is. For some reason his stock has been plummeting the past few days, but I think he has pro bowl potential. He is extremely talented and I have a late first round, early second round grade on him. He’s definitely a top 50 player in the draft. The perfect scenario for him is to land in a zone scheme where he can play off coverage and use his eyes to dissect an offense. The 49ers and Raiders are two spots that stand out, both defenses run a base cover three where the corners primarily are off. San Francisco owns pick number 43 and Vegas holds pick number 48, those are two spots where Melifonwu can be picked. Based off of the media, I am hearing that he’ll go either in the second or third round, but his value ranges on day two.
Eyes + Instincts 9/10
Ball Skills 6.25/8
Size + Speed 6.5/7
Man Coverage 3.5/5
Zone Coverage 4.75/5
Final Rating: 81
Pro Comparison: Tre Flowers
Team Fits: 49ers, Raiders, Colts
Draft Ranking: Late First Round Pick - Early Second Round Pick
Draft Projection: Day Two Pick