Another week, another former UConn football player signed to a Super Bowl contender’s roster. News broke on Monday that safety Obi Melifonwu, formerly of the 1-7 Oakland Raiders, had signed with the 6-2 New England Patriots. Talk about a change of fortune.
It’s a homecoming of sorts for Melifonwu. Though he was born in London, he moved to the United States at three years old and made his name on the football field in Grafton, MA. He went on to an illustrious career at UConn, capping things off with 118 tackles and four interceptions during his senior year.
But it was his combine that really set him apart. At 6-foot-4, 224 pounds, Melifonwu recorded an 11-foot-9-inch in broad jump, a 44-inch vertical and a 4.40 second 40-yard dash. This shot him up the draft board, mirroring the path of former teammate and current Dallas Cowboys defensive back Byron Jones.
Melfonwu was ultimately selected by the Oakland Raiders in the second-round, and that’s where he remained until October 23, 2018. So why is this the first time he’s being mentioned in UConn in the NFL? Well, his first year-and-a-half in the NFL has been plagued with injury.
He played in just five games over the season-and-a-half he spent with the Raiders, causing Oakland to part ways with the defensive back. This was fantastic news for the Patriots, who scooped up the Massachusetts native, adding much-needed depth to their secondary. Currently on a six-game win-streak, the Pats are once again poised for a championship run, and it’s looking like Melifonwu just hit the jackpot.
Around the league, fellow UConn defensive backs Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Byron Jones contributed with a pair of deflections between them. Wreh-Wilson hadn’t entered a game for the Atlanta Falcons since week 4 but finally returned in Sunday’s 38-14 win over the Washington Redskins. Jones — who recorded two tackles and a batted ball in the Cowboys’ 14-28 loss to the Tennessee Titans — continues to be one of the best corners in football.
The Seattle Seahawks’ Shamar Stephen combined for four tackles against the Los Angeles Chargers; a season high for the UConn alum. Stephen continues to improve in his first year with Seattle, yet this week’s effort was in vain. The Chargers have been the surprise of the season, improving to 6-2 and riding a five-game win-streak after a 25-17 win over the Seahawks.
On the other side of LA, things aren’t so rosy for Nick Williams. He was essentially signed by the Rams in week 7 to replace an injured Cooper Kupp and as expected, this week’s return of Kupp meant the departure of Williams, who failed to enter the game on Sunday. It is still unclear what his future will be with the Rams, but it’s looking fairly bleak at the moment.
But let’s end this on a positive note: Ryan Griffin returned to action this weekend and contributed to yet another win for the Houston Texans. In a 19-17 victory over the Denver Broncos, Griffin hauled in 1 of his 2 targets for 13 yards. Don’t look now, but the Texans have won six in a row and a firmly in control of the AFC South. Here’s to hoping Griffin can see more targets in the weeks to come.