Ifeatu Melifonwu, DB, Syracuse
If the last name of Melifonwu sounds familiar, it should be. The Oakland Raiders selected Ifeatu’s older brother, Obi, in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Certainly Ifeatu is hoping to put together a better career, at least in the first few years, than Obi, who is now with his third team in four seasons.
The reason we’re bringing up Melifonwu in this year’s draft class is because Ryan Wilson over at CBS Sports has the Chiefs reaching a bit here for a prospect to bolster the team’s secondary. He writes:
"We have a second-round grade on Ifeatu Melifonwu, but we also didn’t expect Andy Reid to take Clyde Edwards-Helaire in Round 1 a year ago. Melifonwu is a big, physical corner who plays with the agility of someone much smaller, and Kansas City could be looking to restock the secondary in the coming months."
This could sound far-fetched and it is on the surface. Wilson admits he’s reaching here, and this would only be the pick if the Chiefs had Melifonwu as their top overall prospect available on the board. At that point it’s possible that Veach could ignore any positional needs and grab impact talent instead. That’s the smart move if Melifonwu is projected above others who could help at key roster spots, even if it hurts to see in the short term,.
Here’s the thing: Melifonwu is the sort of prospect who could unexpectedly rise up draft boards if the pre-draft season plays out like it began. What’s so intriguing about Melifonwu is the rare blend of measurables and athleticism that he provides in the secondary. Consider his long stature at 6’3, 213 lbs going up against bigger receivers who are used to creating mismatches with their size. What puts Melifonwu over the top is how fluid he moves for his size, which is why he turned heads like he did at the Senior Bowl.
As for the Chiefs, the secondary is much more set than other positions on the roster, but Melifonwu’s gifts and size would allow him to play anywhere and everywhere. Given the potential exits of Bashaud Breeland and Dan Sorensen in free agency, Melifonwu would raise the ceiling considerably on a unit that is also still hoping Juan Thornhill returns to form in his third season and sees Tyrann Mathieu entering the last year of his contract (for now).
Still, this is a little tougher to see for now. The Chiefs have DeAndre Baker, Rashad Fenton, L’Jarius Sneed and BoPete Keyes already returning at corner with Charvarius Ward as a restricted free agent. With Thornhill, Mathieu, and Armani Watts also back without adding anyone else, the Chiefs should actually address other needs first—despite how good Melifonwu would look at Arrowhead.