(Editor's Note: With less than a week until the start of the 2017 NFL Draft on April 27, the staff of DallasCowboys.com intends to preview the landscape of possible Cowboys draft picks – from the first round to the last. Today's featured player is Connecticut's Obi Melifonwu.)
Name: Obi Melifonwu
Honors: A four-year starter for UConn, Melifonwu made first-team All-American Athletic Conference as a senior.
Key Stat: In his final college season, Melifonwu posted four interceptions and a team-high 128 tackles, including seven games with 10 tackles or more.
Where He's Projected: Following a terrific Combine performance (his 44-inch vertical leap and 11-foot, 9-inch broad jump ranked first at this year's event), most draft observers believe Melifonwu is likely to be drafted somewhere in the latter part of the first round or the early second round.
How He Helps The Cowboys:Secondary depth is widely considered one of the Cowboys' primary needs, and Melifonwu showed enough to versatility in college to intrigue teams as a possible cornerback at the NFL level. He played safety down in the box, in the slot and deep for UConn. The Cowboys have found success playing Melifonwu's former teammate, Byron Jones, in a variety of roles the last two seasons, including cornerback and safety. The two players have different frames and skill sets, but Melifonwu has the height (6-4) and athleticism to develop into a difference maker for a team.
Scout's Take: Impressive size. Long-limbed player. Will surprise you with how well he moves for his size. Does take him a little time to get going but can cover some ground once he starts. Not a stiff-moving player at all. Loves to tackle and attack the ball. Will use his size to his advantage to bring the ball carrier down. Surprised how well he can redirect being so tall. Range is not bad. Will pedal, plant and drive. Good in the hips. Doesn't play too tall or upright. Doesn't have much short area quickness but feet aren't slow either. Explosive player when it comes to tackling. Can really strike. Took a couple of poor angles on screen passes to the outside but overall pretty aware player. Like him better a run player than I do on the pass. Doesn't hesitate when playing the run but tends to when dealing with the pass. Wish he would cut it loose more when playing the pass. Poised in the way he does his job. Did not see him used on the blitz but did have a tackle for loss coming off the edge. Very few tall safeties have ever made it in the league, but the ones that have: Joey Browner and Steve Atwater. The ones that didn't: Patrick Bates and Pat Watkins here in Dallas. Work numbers didn't translate to how he plays on tape, which is a concern.
- Bryan Broaddus