With the 56th pick in the NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders selected UConn defensive back Obi Melifonwu.
Melifonwu becomes the fifth second round pick in school history, joining Darius Butler, Will Beatty, Cody Brown, and Kendall Reyes. Since 2005, Melifonwu becomes the seventh defensive back to be drafted from UConn, joining the likes of Byron Jones and Darius Butler, among others.
Melifonwu should be an immediate impact in a defense that ranked 26th in yards allowed per game. The pass defense was especially weak, allowing 257.5 passing yards per game, the fifth-worst mark in the NFL.
The Raiders reportedly liked Melifonwu enough that they nearly took them in the first round, according to Ian Rapoport, but instead went with cornerback Gareon Conley. Obi is the third UConn player to be drafted by the Raiders, joining fellow safety Tyvon Branch and linebacker Sio Moore.
During his time at UConn, Melifonwu was a four-year starter, amassing 349 tackles, eight interceptions, and 16 passes defended. Coming out of high school, he was lightly recruited out of Grafton, Massachusetts and accepted his lone FBS offer from UConn.
During his first few years as a Husky, Melifonwu was thrust into action early in his career, with mixed results. He was routinely burned for big plays and often seemed lost, but his talents were visible. The early experience helped later on as he blossomed into one of the Huskies’ premier defenders and is off to a great start in his professional career as a second round pick.