2021 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: CB Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse

Syracuse cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu  has a lot of upside as a potential press corner.
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CB IFEATU MELIFONWU

Height: 6'2"
Weight: 212 lbs.
Class: Junior (Red Shirt)
School: Syracuse


A three-star recruit out of Grafton Memorial Senior High School in Grafton, Massachusetts. Melifonwu was the 5th ranked recruit in the state in 2017 and the 1591st in the nation.

Melifonwu has played in 23 career games, recording 88 tackles, 5 for a loss, a sack, three interceptions, and 19 passes defended. Three-time ACC Honor Roll recipient and has been named to the Academic All-ACC team in 2019. 

He earned a Second Team All-ACC honor in 2020 and accepted his invite to the Reese’s Senior Bowl, where he had a solid week of practice.

Notables

Melifonwu is the younger brother of Obi Melifonwu, a second-round pick by the Raiders in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Traits

Great size, length, and weight for a cornerback, and his size doesn’t affect his athletic gifts. Melifonwu has very good athleticism, fluid hips, excellent closing burst, good agility, and has great control of his feet.

Height leads to a slight rise in center of gravity, but there’s no awkwardness to his movements, and he possesses good speed/control to flip his hips. Can quickly accelerate in and out of breaks and does a solid job planting and driving on underneath routes.

He is very patient at the line of scrimmage with his feet; he stays square until the receiver enters his stem before turning his hips and committing to a route. Played both off and in press situations at Syracuse.

He flashed the ability to use his length and jam at the line of scrimmage, riding receivers up their stem and into breaks--the line of scrimmage skills are good in terms of foot discipline, jam, and technique.

In off-man coverage, he doesn’t panic when receivers chew grass; he’s a bit high in his backpedal but uses solid timing on most of his breaks.

Mirroring isn’t an issue for this large cornerback--he has the feet, hips, and athletic traits to mirror well. He sees the field well in zone but can get tunnel vision on the quarterback resulting in him losing receivers crossing through his responsibility.

He seems to be a smart player but could do a bit better in terms of spatial awareness while in off coverage on inside breaking routes. He only had three career interceptions but found himself at the catch point consistently.

He does a good job playing through receivers and into the catch point with the right amount of physicality and strength. Length and disruptive nature have ended drives for opposing offenses.

Good reactive quickness on throws - comes off routes and attacks the football or catch recipient. He brings exceptional play strength to the position; when squared up, he delivers hard hits with very good tackling mechanics.

He uses his huge tackle radius to wrap and drive receivers backward. He does a good job shedding receivers blocks and finding ball carriers too. He is good in run support and, as an open field tackler--breaks his big frame down, comes to balance, and attacks low.

Overall, Melifonwu will unfairly be compared to his brother, who didn’t work out in the league. Ifeatu is a better functional athlete (in football terms).

Although he may not have the ridiculous lower body explosive testing that his brother had at the combine, he is much more fluid in space, moves better laterally with flipping his hips and turning, while also just being a more controlled athlete--not to mention a better actual football player.

Melifonwu isn’t as raw as his brother yet still has a lot of upside. Players with his length typically don’t possess his control, so he could make a quality press corner who uses his strength at the line of scrimmage to disrupt plays. 


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