2021 NFL Draft: Ifeatu Melifonwu Player Profile

Ifeatu Melifonwu 2021 NFL Draft Overview

Position: Cornerback
Height: 6’-2”
Weight: 205 pounds
School: Syracuse

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Ifeatu Melifonwu 2021 NFL Draft Profile

After a fantastic college career at Syracuse, cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu hopes to take his game to the next level in the 2021 NFL Draft. The younger brother of former second-round pick Obi Melifonwu, Ifeatu is coming off what is probably the best season of his young career. Seeing the field for 910 snaps, Melifonwu finished the year allowing 33 receptions on 3994 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception on 50 targets.

Melifonwu originally entered the college football landscape as a three-star recruit. A Massachusetts native, the Grafton High School product starred in football, basketball, lacrosse, and track. However, despite his athletic prowess, he only received two scholarship offers from major programs.

Strengths

  • Absolute freak of nature from an athletic standpoint;
  • Ideal build for the position with ability to break up contested passes;
  • Great acceleration – goes from 0 to 60 in no time at all;
  • Never going to get beat deep on straight go routes;
  • Limitless ceiling – if coached up, he could be the best cornerback in this class.

Weaknesses

  • Exclusively an outside cornerback – rarely moved into the slot;
  • Freak athleticism does not translate to lateral movements;
  • Can be beat with quickness and comeback routes;
  • A guy this big should be much more physical;
  • Lacks the instincts to be a great zone cornerback – much more comfortable in man;
  • Per Pro Football Focus, only 183 snaps in press coverage over the past two years;

NFL Comparison: Joejuan Williams

Teams With Need At Position: San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints

Projection: Early-mid 3rd Round

Bottom Line on Ifeatu Melifonwu

Ifeaut Melifonwu has one of the widest ranges of outcomes in this entire class. In terms of what he is physically capable of doing, there aren’t too many cornerbacks more talented in this class. Human beings should not be as big, strong, and fast as Melifonwu, and he consistently shows off these gifts when targeted in the deep part of the field. Put simply, he has the unteachable traits that every coach in the world desires.

Melifonwu has one of the highest ceilings in the class, but he also has a pretty low floor. Despite his physical gifts, Melifonwu doesn’t play with that much physicality. He definitely holds his own in man coverage, but a guy of his build should be able to dominate just about any college-level receiver. His instincts are a little too slow for a zone-heavy scheme, and he hardly played press coverage during his time with Syracuse. Combine this with his inability to line up in the slot, and it’s easy to see a path where he doesn’t pan out in the NFL.

I fully acknowledge that Melifonwu has the God-given talent to make my third-round draft grade look absolutely foolish in two years. However, there are just too many risks to justify a selection in the first or second round. That said, he’s a perfect high-risk, high-reward pick for a team that already has a strong group of cornerbacks.

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