There is no secret as to what the Dallas Cowboys need to do in this upcoming draft. It all starts with repairing and reloading an underperforming defense. For Mike McCarthy and his staff, that will be the focal point over the next few weeks as they lock in and prepare for draft day. With so many areas on the defense that could use an influx of talent, many draft pundits and Cowboy fans alike believe it begins with adding quality talent in the secondary, specifically at the cornerback position.
Many mock drafts have the Cowboys grabbing a corner with the 10th overall pick, and by doing so it would be a positive start in the right direction for what should be a defensive dominant draft. However, there is a realistic possibility that a player they did not initially believe would be available for them at 10 is available, just as Ceedee Lamb was for them last year at pick 17. Lamb fell into their laps and the Cowboys were more than happy to have one of the highest-graded players on their board waiting for them. If a similar situation were to occur again, this time possibly involving Kyle Pitts or even one of the highly-rated offensive tackles, that could lead to them missing out on what many believe are the first tier of cornerbacks.
That brings us to round two, and to a player that would be a perfect fit for Dan Quinn and his Cover 3 defensive scheme: Ifeatu Melifonwu. Melinfonwu is a supremely athletic cornerback from Syracuse who absolutely could be there for Dallas once pick 44 comes around. He is tall, rangy, and has freakishly athletic traits.
CB #RAS leaders for 2021:— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 13, 2021
Jaycee Horn, South Carolina 9.99
Marco Wilson, Florida 9.99
Patrick Surtain, Alabama 9.96
Jason Pinnock, Pitt 9.78
Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse 9.70
Greg Newsome, Northwestern 9.66
Robert Rochelle, Central Arkansas 9.65
Nate Hobbs, Illinois 9.61 pic.twitter.com/mZG5D2AAcE
Much like his brother Obi back in 2017, he put on quite a show at his Pro Day workout. Melifonwu is just under 6’2”, and weighs 205 lbs. with 32 1/4” arms. He was clocked at an unofficial 4.48 on his 40. His vertical leap was an impressive 41.5” and to round out his quality workout numbers, his broad jump made a statement when he measured in at 11’2”. His measurables are elite, there is no question about that. His on field production against quality ACC opponents was more than solid as he consistently held his own and was very good at in-game adjustments when ever he happened to be beaten on a play. Melifonwu had eight passes defensed, one interception, 42 solo tackles and 55 total tackles in his junior season before entering the NFL draft early.
After studying the tape, you can really see his athleticism pop on the screen. His ability to carry wide receivers down field, stride for stride, while showing the ability to open his hips and play with smooth fluidity is impressive. He is a willing and able tackler and does not shy away from contact. The ability to play with great length, awareness, and the understanding of how to use his frame to his advantage are all skills that will help him transition well to the next level. His coaches applaud his football IQ and appreciate his toughness as he is known as a quality locker room guy.
The biggest key why Dan Quinn will fall in love with him is his ability to play press man. His coverage skills when he is on an island, mixed with his length and athletic prowess are all traits that will translate well to Quinn’s scheme. These are some of the reasons many scouts believe he will not last long into the second round and why early on in the draft process he had many scouts and media members discussing him possibility sneaking into the first round.
Put Melifonwu on the opposite side of Trevon Diggs and you have a quality young core of corners to build on for the future. It’s not a great draft strategy to hope a player is still available for you as your selection comes back around in round two, but understanding and knowing that if you do not select one of the top tier corners in this years draft, there are certainly viable options to be had beyond the first 32 picks.
Ifeatu Melifonwu may very well be what Dan Quinn is looking for to fix this broken Cowboys secondary.