FS/SS grades can and will change as more information comes in from Pro Day workouts, Wonderlic test results leaked, etc. We will update info as it becomes available.


Here's the insanity of NFL scouting and analysis… The 'club' of football people has thrown in with Myles Garrett as the end-all be-all prospect for the 2017 NFL Draft. Everything he did at the NFL Combine gave analysts 'the vapors'. People already made up their mind and it would take a scouting bomb going off to change their thinking. Garrett had a really good Combine, athletically. Not 'awesome' but really very good. He is definitely worthy of praise.

What Obi Melifonwu did at the NFL Combine, in the overall scheme of things, was out of this world. His overall physical toolbox should have people all a buzz…a 'freak', unlike anything we've ever seen before. Perhaps, the only freak in this draft. What has that evoked from mainstream analysts? Yawns.

I've seen great edge-rush prospects before. Garrett may be another one of them. I've never seen anything like Obi Melifonwu. If I argued he's the most athletically gifted safety 'on paper' that I’d ever seen…you would definitely take note…you saw the Combine numbers; you’re not shocked by that statement. When you consider that statement within the context that Melifonwu is a 6′4″/224 safety with arguably the best athleticism of any safety prospect in history – that's amazing. It would be wildly impressive if he were 6′1″/200. But having all this athletic ability at 6′4″/224 is like something from another planet. His Combine measurables + his size would make him the hottest wide receiver prospect in the draft, if he were a receiver. Had any lesser-known receiver prospect put up the measurables that Obi did at the Combine…they'd be the talk of the town. Melifonwu really did put up those numbers, as a safety prospect and is only ESPN's #40 overall prospect and CBS Sports's #33…he cannot crack the first round for the mainstream.

You cannot find human beings like Obi Melifonwu in NFL Drafts. Some of the 2017 names people have ranked ahead of Melifonwu are solid enough players, but many are a dime a dozen – the difference between most prospects being taken #30 or #130 is probably what college they went to. However, Melifonwu is different – he is not of this world, physically, and yet football people see that and shrug. I'll never understand the NFL…how poorly they evaluate assets. It's why Belichick runs circles around them…constantly.

I could go on and on about Melifonwu's physical gifts, but there is the question of whether he is a good football player or not. He's a solid+ football player. He was a productive, talented safety for UConn. We'll get into how much so in a moment. The safety aspect is one thing, but what really makes Melifonwu 'pop' as a prospect, or should have by now, is the potential that he can play cornerback in the NFL. How would you like a 6′4″/224 corner that can tackle like a safety and has a 44″ vertical? You think he'll defend passes well? You think he can make up for lost ground with his size/reach? You think he might spare you from pass interference calls because he doesn't have to plaster himself onto a receiver – because he can beat them with size, reach, ground covered? Good luck throwing that alley-oop to Mike Evans/Jimmy Graham/Julio Jones, et al. with 6′4″/224, 44″ vertical Melifonwu in range. You won't even be able to see many receivers when Obi is covering them. How valuable is that asset in the NFL? Even if he just situationally covers as a safety?

Watching Melifonwu's tape at UConn… He's not the traditional picture of a safety that comes to mind for most people. When you think 'safety' you usually think of a thumper in the run game (especially at Obi's size), an ultra-aggressive guy bouncing all over and thumping his chest – that's why the typical football analyst gravitates towards Jamal Adams. They like players with 'swagger'…especially if they attended a big-name SEC school. Melifonwu plays more like a free safety. He drifts towards the action. He likes to cover. He'll get involved in the run game, but he isn't a great tackler…he goes and grabs/corrals ballcarriers instead of wiping them out. He's big enough and fast enough to get to plays and drag down a tackle, but he's not a guy trying to separate a ballcarrier's head from his body or blast out their legs. He does his job unassumingly, and for that, he's not getting noticed. The NFL doesn’t like it when players look like they're not going full speed or not pursuing like wild animals. Melifonwu moves so gracefully he looks like he's drifting, but it's an optical illusion. I'd say Melifonwu would be a fine safety in the NFL…with an upside that he improves his tackle techniques.

However, where I would put Melifonwu in the NFL (or try) – I’d make him a cornerback. He could redefine the position and go down as one of the most unique shutdown corners in history…or be a really good safety as a 'floor'. Melifonwu is a more cerebral player and personality off the field…he's not a bloodthirsty overpursuer. I think he could become NFL wide receivers' worst nightmares and completely take away the opponent's top receiver…or be a really good safety.

The NFL coaching establishment, by and large, will not like Melifonwu. He's humble, quiet, cerebral, and academic. Most NFL coaches want their players to be boisterous, aggressive, and in constant pursuit…and then they get mad at them when the player cheats and is out of position, tricked by a formation, and/or penalized for illegal hits or interferences. Coaches don’t like Richard Sherman types (thus on the trade block now) – guys who speak out against the team's game plans, etc. when it seems to be warranted. NFL coaches want trained attack dogs….not a quiet player who questions nonsensical coaching/activities. Obi Melifonwu doesn’t fit that typical NFL profile and his draft status will suffer for it.

There will be a few teams that appreciate and get what Melifonwu can bring to the table – a safety prospect, unlike most anything we've ever seen…or a cornerback the likes of which we've never even approached or tried (we discourage taller players from playing corner). If the Patriots get Melifonwu, just cancel the next two seasons and give them the Super Bowl trophy. Not because of the one player, Obi, but because Belichick sees what guys like this can do, how they change the game…and he stacks them on his roster and smacks 31 other teams around with 53 of them. Belichick saw Jamie Collins way ahead of everyone, and I called Collins 'the Calvin Johnson' of linebacking prospects during his draft season. Obi Melifonwu is 'the Calvin Johnson' of DB prospects…and a whole entire round of the draft will go by and he’ll not be taken, I bet.

I'm not even going to get into the fact that you could add 10–15 pounds to him and have a radical outside linebacker to cover or rush the edge on occasion…but that's not out of the question. However, DB is where I think he belongs.


Obi Melifonwu, Through the Lens of Our SAF Scouting Algorithm:

You start looking at the NFL Combine measurables when examining the statistical with Melifonwu…

6′3.7″/224, 32.5″ arms, 9.1″ hands

4.40 40-time, 1.51 10-yard (a great burst time), DNP agility times

44.0″ vertical (one of the all-time bests), 11′9″ broad jump (one of the all-time bests), 17 reps bench press

That, my friends, is a 'freak' of nature for a defensive back.

Can he tackle? Seven of 12 games last season with 10 or more tackles. In his second-to-last game of his career, against Boston College, Melifonwu had a career-high 10 solo tackles in the game. He beat that record in his college finale with 11 solo tackles against Tulane, in a game where he had 24 tackles overall. He's not got the best technique I've ever seen, but he's not bad…and he gets to more places faster than most.

Obi picked off four passes in his final seven games in 2016.

He averaged 13.5 tackles per game over his final four games in 2016.


Melifonwu's college stats on CFB Reference: http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/obi-melifonwu-1.html

The Historical SAF Prospects to Whom Obi Melifonwu Most Compares Within Our System:

If Melifonwu plays safety in the NFL and fails or turns out to be 'average'/OK, then we're going to have to score/grade 'extra big' safety prospects in a different way. I look at similar safety profiles, physically, compared to Melifonwu and see a lot of great 'on paper' guys but not as much NFL success as I had expected. Melifonwu has better metrics in athleticism and performance in college than most all the similar-sized (height/weight/speed) safety prospects on the comparison list, so that might be a different/better 'tell'. We'll see.










Tackle Strngth Metrics

Speed Cover Metric

Strong Safety

Free Safety





U Conn












Mia, Fla
























Notre Dame
























C. Florida




















*The ratings are based on a 1–10 rating scale, but a prospect can score over 10.0+ and less than 0.0.

OVERALL RATING -- We merge the data from physical measurables, skill times/counts from the NFL Combine/Pro Days, with college performance data available on pass coverage/tackles, etc. and grade it compared to our database history of all college SS/FS prospects, with a focus on which SS/FS prospects went on to be good-great-elite in the NFL. We found characteristics/data points that the successful NFL SS/FS's had in common in college, that most other SS/FS prospects could not match/achieve.

Scoring with a rating over a 7.0+ in our system is where we start to take a SS/FS prospect more seriously. Most of the future NFL-successful college SS/FS prospects scored 8.0+ in our system, and most of the NFL-superior FS/SSs pushed ratings more in the 9–10.0+ levels overall. Future NFL busts will sneak into the 8.0+ rating range from time to time.

TACKLE/STRENGTH METRIC -- A combination of physical measurables and college performance, graded historically for future NFL profiling. In the simplest of terms, this is an attempt to classify the SS/FS as one more likely to be involved in a heavy amount of tackles, forced fumbles, and physical hits to separate a WR from the ball. It also gives some insight into the "toughness" of a player, if it is possible to quantify that (this is our attempt to).

SPEED/COVERAGE METRIC -- A combination of several speed, agility, size measurements as well as college performance. A unique measuring system to look for SS/FS prospects that profile for superior coverage skills and abilities.

2017 NFL Draft Outlook:

I want to say Melifonwu will find his way into the first round of the draft, but I don’t feel the same momentum for him as I did with Byron Jones in 2015. Jones was so obvious a top 5 overall prospect as a safety/corner (to us), it was ridiculous. Jones was mostly projected by the mainstream where Melifonwu is at the same time in the process. Jones caught some heat late, and some analysts started putting him #30–31 in their projections (at best), and he wound up a #27 pick overall by Dallas…a steal. I suspect the same fate awaits Melifonwu.

NFL Outlook:   

If Melifonwu stays at safety, he'll be a starter…and possible destroyer in the passing game – covering so much ground. If Melifonwu moves to safety/linebacker hybrid, he'll be a great cover guy (like Byron Jones) but lacking hype for how good he really is all around (like Byron Jones). If Melifonwu moves to corner, the NFL world may get tipped upside down – if he can transition well enough into it.