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49ers prospect spotlight: CB Ifeatu Melifonwu

We put the SPOTLIGHT on Syracuse cornerback and NFL Draft Prospect Ifeatu Melifonwu in the lead-up to the 2021 NFL Draft.

Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Greetings Faithful! All the talk and discussion have been around the third overall pick and the impending quarterback the 49ers will be drafting on April 29th, and rightfully so. However, over the next couple of weeks, I will be discussing and highlighting prospects that could be intriguing to the 49ers in the other six rounds of the draft. As important as it is to hit on the quarterback selection, it is just as important, if not more important, to recognize, select, and develop players on both sides of the football. Football is a team sport, and while an elite quarterback is desired, it is only one part (A big one, I know! ) of the machine. Let’s jump in.

Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB – Syracuse
Height: 6’3” – Weight 213 pounds

Pros:

Before I even look at game tape, Melifonwu’s measurements already get me excited. His frame and wingspan are what the team seeks at the cornerback, and put him in position to contest and compete with the taller and more physical receivers, especially outside the numbers.

He plays to his size and has above average speed. I love his ability to angle himself towards the ball.

He is a quick finisher who can wrap his arms around a receiver after the catch. He plays with a physical brand of football and sets the tone with an aggressive style. He plays with confidence in the open field, and has demonstrated his abilities as an open-field tackler. Our own Kyle Posey breaks down his games in the tweet below!

Thanks to his blend of size and speed he can match up with both receivers and tight ends. From a speed perspective he runs fluidly through his hips, and builds up his agility on deeper and long routes.

I also like his ability to anticipate and mirror routes of the receiver he is covering and is comfortable in his back pedal before turning in with a receiver in man to man coverage.

Cons:

While I like his ability to tackle in open coverage, his movement and ability to change direction on point still need work. Melifonwu needs to be more aggressive within the first five yards of the line of scrimmage. While I love his confidence and trust he has with his size and speed too keep up with receivers, becoming more of a physical presence along the line of scrimmage at the next level will benefit him more. There is more growth and opportunity to improve his eyes and anticipation , particularly with where the quarterback may be looking to complete a pass. There is also an injury history both in 2018 and 2019 to keep note of.

Final Thoughts:

Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Ifeatu Melifonwu is a physically gifted corner with a natural blend of size and speed who can play in both man-to-man and zone coverages. His Height and frame seem to check off what the team seeks and desires in the cornerback position. I love his tackling techniques, his ability to play at all three levels on the field and clog up receivers on routes.

Melifonwu would be a STEAL in round 3, but I don’t see him making it out of the second round. I believe the 49ers can justify selecting him where they currently are or even slightly trading back if they believe he can stay within that range.

What are your thoughts on Ifeatu Melifonwu? Is. He worth a Day 2 pick? Second-round pick? Please share in the comments below!