While the 2020 football season didn’t go exactly as planned for the Syracuse Orange, it looks like the NFL Draft is heating up. Ifeatu Melifonwu became the second of three anticipated Orange defensive backs taken on the night, as he was selected in the third round (101st overall) by the Detroit Lions.
Coming off a great 2020 season, further establishing himself as one of the better cover corners in the league, being named to numerous All-ACC teams, with 55 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 pick, 10 passes defended and 9 pass breakups, all with teams trying to stay away from him. Iffy joins his brother as the second family member drafted to the NFL. The Oakland Raiders took Obi Melifonwu with the 56th pick in the second round of the 2017 Draft out of UConn.
To further the accolades, Melifonwu graded out as the top defender on the Syracuse roster via PFF.com with an overall grade of 78.8 while playing the third highest snap count in the country, on the field for 910 plays. That was good enough for the second highest cornerback rating in this years draft, behind only Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II.
A lockdown man-up defender with plenty of intangibles, Iffy has size for a corner at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds. His hips play well when switching directions in-coverage. He also attacks under routes above average, and can tackle in the open field. He also showed well in the Senior Bowl and tested out extremely well at Syracuse’s pro day with a 4.48 40-yard dash, a 41.5-inch vertical jump and a 11-foot-2 broad jump.
When not in press coverage and able to take advantage of his ability in tight one on one, he can allow receivers to get a bit of a cushion on him. He will need to increase his ability to change direction in space when he’s not matching up a man one-on-one.
How did we do with our TNIAAM Draft Prediction?:
He’s a sure selection in this year’s draft and should hear his name called in the second round, in all likelihood. Obviously trades can happen, but some teams that are picking between the middle and end of the second and could use some cornerback help include the Cardinals, Bills, Saints, Steelers and Titans.
Good luck to Iffy as he furthers his football career with the Lions