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Second-year safety Obi Melifonwu waived by Raiders, could Cowboys have interest?

We have to look everywhere.

NFL: Oakland Raiders-OTA Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While everyone is having anxiety over the state of the Dallas Cowboys offensive line, the position of biggest need remains safety.

Since last Sunday we’ve been through a bit of a roller coaster of emotions with this:

  • Bengals released safety George Iloka after playing the Cowboys
  • (Earl Thomas remains an option people clamor for)
  • Dallas signed Domenick Sanders and Jeron Johnson
  • (Earl Thomas remains an option people clamor for)
  • George Iloka signs with the Minnesota Vikings
  • (Earl Thomas remains an option people clamor for)
  • The Oakland Raiders waived second-year safety Obi Melifonwu

You might remember that Obi Melifonwu was a pre-draft visitor for the Cowboys ahead of the 2017 NFL Draft. From BTB’s draft profile on him at the time:

Melifonwu projects best as a box safety/hybrid linebacker thanks to his size and ability to play the run, although as mentioned previously he must get more physical at the point of attack. With that said, he has enough range, speed and awareness to play in 2-deep looks, and even as a single-high at times if he can improve on his instincts and route recognition. He isn’t a guy you want in deep coverage all game long but he does have very good cover ability for a strong safety, which is his presumed NFL position.

He could be a seamless fit (and upgrade) in the role that Barry Church played, while providing even more versatility as far as matching up with TE’s and perhaps some bigger WR’s who aren’t the shifty, Cole Beasley types out of the slot. Due to concerns over his aggressiveness/physicality at the point of attack he isn’t a slam dunk at 28 but there isn’t much separating him from guys like Jabrill Peppers and Budda Baker in my opinion, and you could easily argue he has a higher ceiling than both.

It hasn’t exactly been sunshine and roses for Melifonwu since joining the Raiders and he finds himself in a situation that often plagues on-the-bubble players - Oakland has a new coaching staff. It’s only been one year since he was a second-round draft selection, there’s no denying that he has talent.

While Melifonwu may have talent he might not have stability. Injuries significantly impacted what was so far his only season in the NFL. He played in five games for the Raiders last season.

Melifonwu is an extreme athlete who could be at the very least an option for the Cowboys at safety. If Dallas isn’t willing to add a free agent or trade for someone, maybe they’re willing to put in a waiver claim for someone who they liked just over a year ago.

Again, it bears repeating that Obi has had injury issues for the entirety of his short career. From our friends at Silver and Black Bride:

Keep in mind, Melifonwu’s injury two weeks ago wasn’t out of nowhere. He missed all but five games last season, twice being placed on injured reserve, and was slow to join his teammatesin the offseason program. When he did return, he was buried on the depth chart.

The only time he saw first team reps ironically was August 6 because he was filling in for a number of injuries at the safety position.

Right now the team is probably at a bit of a loss as to what to do with him. If they don’t figure out the nature and severity of his injury soon, another stint on IR could be in his future.

All of this not withstanding there is definitely logic to kicking the tires on Obi Melifnowu. Dallas needs safety depth, and he’s a young player with a potentially high ceiling. Are they willing to give it a shot to see what they can figure out with him? That remains to be seen.

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