It’s no secret that the defense was the Browns Achilles heel in 2016. While it wasn’t their only Achilles heel, it was definitely the biggest one. However, the 2017 NFL Draft is full of defensive talent. As the Browns look to rebuild their defense, this draft is a prime opportunity. Although their front seven is already improving, Cleveland’s secondary needs a lot of work. Already having some nice building blocks at cornerback, the Browns attention should turn to safeties. If the Browns choose not to take Jamal Adams or Malik Hooker, there are still plenty of other options. Enter UConn’s electrifying defender, Obi Melifonwu.
Cleveland Browns Should Draft Obi Melifonwu
When the pre-draft process started, Melifonwu was not very high on the safeties list. However, he starred at the combine. The elephant in the room here is Melifonwu’s broad jump at an astounding 11’9″. Putting that in perspective, only Byron Jones has jumped further (12’3″). Additionally, Melifonwu’s 44-inch vertical jump is one of the highest ever. Finally, and perhaps most impressively, Obi Melifonwu had a 4.40 40-yard dash time. Oh yeah, and he’s 6’4″.
With all this put together, Melifonwu caught the attention of various scouts. Soon after, he began to shoot up draft boards. If prospects like Adams and Hooker were not in this draft, Melifonwu could be the top safety. But fortunately for Cleveland, Adams and Hooker are in this draft. Obi Melifonwu is freakishly athletic and could give a boost to any defense, including that of the Browns.
Maturity and Focus
Another impressive aspect of Melifonwu’s game has nothing to do with his physicality. On the mental side of things, Melifonwu is second to none. First of all, he is already 23 years old. Obi Melifonwu has taken the time to fully mature in college as a four-year starter. UConn got a gift on defense with Melifonwu, from all angles. Of course, he is a physical freak. But he is also a great locker room leader.
On the field, Melifonwu is, again, insanely focused. His football knowledge is some of the best in the draft class. Although he sometimes struggles in coverage, he can still make plays with great angles. His tackling style allows him to avoid numerous penalties and make plays cleanly. Melifonwu is disciplined and could be a great locker room leader in Cleveland. After all, Joe Thomas might not be around for much longer.
The Perfect Fit
Simply put, Obi Melifonwu is a great fit for the Browns. First of all, he is an analytics dream. Everything about Melifonwu screams potential, and he knows what he is doing on the field. Both Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta are probably in love with him, and that’s a great sign. But enough about analytics. Let’s talk about everything that Melifonwu can do on the field.
Gregg Williams is known for his attacking defensive schemes. Luckily for him, Obi Melifonwu is just that type of player. Not only is he a downhill tackling monster, but he sometimes lacks in coverage. While that may seem like a negative, it helps Williams a lot. With his schemes being as physical as they are, Melifonwu might not have to cover all that much. If the Browns defense can just unleash Melifonwu on the field, that will work to help both parties.
With everything considered, it looks like Obi Melifonwu perfectly fits in Cleveland. Perhaps most importantly, he’s a really good kid. His focus, both on and off the field, is incredible. Additionally, his potential is through the roof, which is great for the analytics department. He was a stud at the NFL Combine, and continues to rise up draft boards. Melifonwu is a great safety that every Browns fan should get to know. He could be a defensive anchor for Cleveland’s secondary for years to come, if only they pick him. If Cleveland wants to really make a splash on draft day and in years to come, they should take a long look at Obi Melifonwu.