Heading into the 2016 draft, the Raiders had just a few needs that needed to be filled. There’s the perpetual argument of BPA vs Need (in which I’m usually on the need side), but whichever side of the fence you reside, we all hoped to see an ILB and DT drafted. There was one other need that many overlooked, but not this fan, and it’s the reason why I hoped we’d draft Obi Melifonwu in the first round. In a division that features maybe the best receiving TE in football (Travis Kelce), the Raiders can’t cover TE’s. Whatever needs this team has, fixing open invitations for opposing TE’s (to net career days against this secondary) should be PRIORITY NUMBER 1.
As Thursday passed and Gareon Conley was selected, I was both pleased (I like Conley and corner is another area I hoped we’d address), and disappointed that the one player who could help us in the twice per year battles with Kelce and Henry – was likely gone barring a trade up.
Turns out, Reggie might have received his best 2nd round good fortune since Carr slid to pick #36.
If you could press up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, b, a, before selecting a safety in the draft, Obi Melifonwu is what you would get.
How talented is Obi?
6’4, 224, running a 4.4 with 141″ broad jump and 44″ vertical? To put that into perspective, Lebron James reportedly has a 40″ vertical. His 141″ broad jump is about 5″ short of the world record.
Obi continued to show off at his pro day.
results from UConn DB Obi Melifonwu's pro day:
4.09 short shuttle
10.69 long shuttle
7.05 L drill
Worked at both S and CB
— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) March 22, 2017
If that 10.69 long shuttle is correct, it would have been the fastest at the combine (10.71 by WR Shelton Gibson). That short shuttle of 4.09 is only .01 slower than Budda Baker who’s 30 pounds lighter (195 lb).
For those who follow the predraft process a little more in-depth than the casual viewer, you’ve heard of SPARQ. ‘SPARQ‘ is an acronym it stands for: Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness. Some teams use it more than others, Seattle for example is well known for relying on SPARQ metrics in setting up their draft board.
Obi Melifonwu rates as the most athletic safety SPARQ has ever profiled. Don’t ask me what the hell a 3.3 sigma is, all I can tell you is that it’s a 10 on the Al Davis scale.
We now have a new member to induct; Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu. I’ve waited to announce as we didn’t have his Combine 10-split and his pro day short shuttle time was difficult to pin down. Values between 4.09 and 4.30 have been reported, and I wasn’t comfortable finalizing Obi until i knew he’d stick. With the full data back now, he’d be a 3sig even with the short shuttle lower bound of 4.30. With the more widely reported 4.09, he lands at 3.3 sigma, clearly the best safety athlete of at least the last 19 draft classes.
So the kid is big, fast and can jump out of the building…but can he play football?
Very nice range
Shows the speed to close and beat the WR to the sideline
A closer look at the ball skills to haul in that pick.
4 interceptions in 2016 would indicate he has a knack for the ball. For comparison’s sake, noted play-making first round safety, Jabrill Peppers, had one interception in his entire career. It’s tough for me to make much sense regarding how a player like Peppers goes a full round before Obi, but I won’t be the one to complain. I suspect McKenzie won’t be complaining either, word is, he had Melifonwu with a first round grade, nearly selected him over Conley.
They nearly took him in the first round. https://t.co/e5Lthd7fze
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 29, 2017
It wouldn’t have been a bad pick either.
Those hoping for an ILB in the second round might be disappointed, but not as disappointed as this guy is about to be.