UConn’s Obi Melifonwu sky rockets at NFL Combine

Connecticut defensive back Obi Melifonwu prepares to run the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine Monday, March 6, 2017, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

While much of the buzz at the NFL Combine has gone to John Ross for running a record breaking 4.22 40 yard dash and Myles Garrett being an absolute monster, former UConn defensive back Obu Melifonwu has been putting on a show. The 6 foot 4 inch safety was thought to be a fringe first rounder coming into the combine but after an impressive showing, he is now being considered as a sure fire first round pick.

Current Dallas Cowboy and former UConn defensive back Byron Jones posted the best broad jump since 2003 as he jumped a total of 12 feet and three inches. Melifonwu jumped 11 feet and nine inches and has had the second best broad jump in the last 14 years. In the vertical jump he leaped 44 inches, which was the best of anyone in this combine and the third best since the 2006 combine.

In his second attempt on the 40 yard dash, he ran a 4.40 which was tied for the fifth best out of all the defensive backs at the combine. For being 6 foot 4 inches and 224 pounds, the fact he can run a 4.40 shows that he is unlike many others coming out of college.

Obi Melifonwu (#20) plays defense in a UConn football game. On Friday, November 4 at 7 p.m., the Huskies took on the Temple Owls at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field. (Olivia Stenger/The Daily Campus)

Melifonwu led the Huskies last season in tackles and interceptions and he was a first-team All-American Athletic Conference selection. He was born in London, England on April 5, 1994 and attended Grafton High School in Grafton, Mass. In high school he played defensive back and running back, running 1,394 yards while scoring 17 touchdowns.

After redshirting his freshman year at UConn, he became a full-time starter. He had 70 tackles and two interceptions as a redshirt freshman and 75 tackles as a redshirt sophomore. In the following two years he recorded a combined 206 tackles and picked off six passes.

According to NFL.com, his strengths are his “elite size with premium athletic traits” and he “is an effective downhill tackler who has the ability to match up against tight ends and make a living near the line of scrimmage.” His weaknesses, in their eyes, are that he lacks coverage skills and needs to work on his football instincts.

To put his frame into perspective, he is taller than wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald by an inch, has a 0.01 faster 10 yard spilt than running back Darren Sproles and has a 0.03 faster 40-yard dash time then vaunted kick returner Devin Hester. To top it all off, he has a five and a half inch taller vertical jump than Odell Beckham Jr. Melifonwu is in a class of his own.  

Currently on CBS.com he is listed as the No.3 safety in the draft and has garnered some comparisons to Brandon Browner from the Seattle Seahawks (due to his size) and George Iloka from the Cincinnati Bengals. Both of these safeties have made a big name for themselves in the NFL and if Melifonwu can transfer his combine performance to the field, he might have a chance to play with them or against them in the future.


Matt Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at matthew.kren@uconn.edu.