The Seahawks seem to have a fit for their big, physical secondary in Obi Melifonwu, but will he fall to Seattle in the NFL Draft?
The Seahawks aren’t the only ones interested in Obi Melifonwu (OH-bee Mel-on-FON-woo). The 6’4″, 224-pound safety out of Connecticut has risen fast in most Mock Drafts. In the latest Mock from CBS Sports, Melifonwu went 19th overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Teams seem to be coming around to his impressive combine numbers: a 4.4 40-time, a 44-inch vertical, and a 140-inch broad jump. The Seahawks are always looking for talent in their vaunted secondary, and with question marks around a few of their key players in the Legion of Boom, namely Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, Pete Carroll would love to add depth with a new generation of big, mean, effective defensive backs.
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Sherman has been at the center of a bizarre off-season tug-of-war with Seahawks management (it seems) and has two years remaining on his contract. Thomas is coming off of a terrible leg injury that may or may not sap his ability to shut down the middle of the field like we’ve gotten used to seeing him do. That leaves a few chinks in the armor for the LOB that Melifonwu seems ready to fill in.
Melifonwu showed impressive ball skills during his time in Connecticut, matching up against big receivers and tight ends without much trouble and making plays with the ball in the air. In his senior year for the Huskies, Melifonwu led the team in tackles with 118, 2.5 for loss, and four interceptions. He loves to run downhill to the line of scrimmage to hit people, which is what John Schneider and Carroll love. Some scouts have criticized Melifonwu’s ability to turn and run with receivers, and added that he’s a step slow at times getting to his spots and staying with receivers.
Melifonwu’s instincts, physical abilities, and tackle-first mentality make him a perfect fit for the Seahawks picking at 26. With Melifonwu’s name rising quickly in Mock Drafts, however, they may be forced to trade up to take him, which seems unlikely for Schneider and Carroll. If he falls to the 26th pick, they could take the former Connecticut safety–and do cartwheels.