Dallas Cowboys: Is Obi Melifonwu A First-Round Option In 2017 NFL Draft?

The Dallas Cowboys need to add a strong safety to pair with Byron Jones, but could that mean picking Obi Melifonwu in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft?

What the Dallas Cowboys should do with their 2017 NFL Draft first-round choice at 28th overall and what they are going to do could be two different scenarios. There are a number of positions the Cowboys could gravitate toward when it is their turn to make a first-round selection.

The Cowboys could draft a pass rusher to add to Rod Marinelli’s 4-3 defensive scheme, or they could draft a much-needed cornerback in the first round. There is also the possibility the Cowboys could take a talented strong safety with their first-round pick as well, leaving many options on the table for reigning NFC East champions.

Though options are varying, what makes the most sense is the Cowboys need to stay away from adding to their offense and focus on the defense in this draft in the first round, just as they did in 2015 when they selected Byron Jones with the 27th overall pick. Fittingly that choice has worked out quite well.

In this upcoming draft, one player the Cowboys could be looking at for their first-round pick is strong safety Obi Melifonwu of Connecticut (he’s a former teammate of Jones) as they were scheduled to meet with him earlier this month before the NFL Draft.

Remember when Jones was at the NFL Combine in 2015 and posted a 4.36 in the 40-yard dash? His former collegiate teammate of two seasons, Melifonwu, ran the 40 in a time of 4.40 seconds. Imagine those two together in the Cowboys’ defensive backfield. That speed would really give the team some lofty competition for the opposing offense to overcome each week.

This past season, Melifonwu had the results on the field to go with the aforementioned speed. In 12 games, he finished with 118 tackles (73 solo) with four interceptions and three passes defended. In a span of four-straight games against Navy, Virginia, Syracuse and Houston, Melifonwu had double-digit tackle games, earning a total of 43 tackles, including three-straight games of 11 tackles. Melifonwu also had 10 tackles against East Carolina, 11 tackles against Boston College and a season-high 24 tackles against Tulane to comprise three of his final four games in college.

Looking at the Cowboys at strong safety, it wouldn’t be a bad move to select one early in the NFL Draft, as the current strong safeties on the roster are Jeff Heath and Kavon Frazier, both of whom are good spot players, but the jury is still out if they should be every-down players for the Cowboys. The Cowboys said goodbye to safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox in free agency, leaving a void at the position for sure this offseason.

Melifonwu would fill a big need for the Cowboys if he were selected in the first round. Being that he’s 6-4 and 224 pounds, that size, with the athleticism and speed he possesses, is very enticing with the draft getting ever so close. The Cowboys will need a player like Melifonwu who can go against some of the tough competition the NFC East has to offer.

The qualities Melifonwu could bring to a defense like the Cowboys are he’s also a former cornerback, he doesn’t get penalized much and as Lance Zierlein of NFL.com wrote, he compares to George Iloka of the Cincinnati Bengals. If that is the case, Iloka totaled 74 tackles for the Bengals last season, along with grabbing three interceptions. The Cowboys could use a player like that on their defense.

Though Melifonwu could already be off the board by the time the Cowboys make a selection at 28th, as he’s been mocked to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 19th overall by Dan Brugler of CBSSports.com this week, but also not selected in the first round at all in a recent FanSided.com mock draft.

It is tough to say where the Cowboys will lean once it is time to make their first-round selection. They must draft defense, but from there, they can still branch off in a number of areas. Melifonwu would be an excellent selection, but since the Cowboys have needs at cornerback and on the edge, the choice of a strong safety late in the first round is no guarantee.

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