2021 NFL Draft: How Ifeatu Melifonwu impacts Detroit Lions roster

Pride of Detroit

The run on Day 2 defensive picks continues for the Detroit Lions as they add cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu with their other third-round pick.

Player selected: Ifeatu Melifonwu

Position: CB

Current players on roster at CB:

  • Quinton Dunbar
  • Corn Elder
  • Jeff Okudah
  • Amani Oruwariye
  • Mike Ford

Offseason losses at CB:

  • Justin Coleman
  • Desmond Trufant
  • Darryl Roberts
  • Tony McRae

Impact:

Out of all the positions on defense, the cornerback group has probably changed the most this offseason. Starters Justin Coleman and Desmond Trufant were released after some lackluster performances. This left the burden of the starting gigs on youngsters Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye. Rebuilding the secondary in the offseason has been a priority, and two veterans were brought in to fill some weaknesses. Quinton Dunbar provides another option at outside corner, while Corn Elder figures to play in the slot.

Ifeatu Melifonwu is an athletic monster, a size-speed package that has become prized in the NFL. His experience is primarily as an outside corner, and figures to be a developmental guy. He, Okudah, and Oruwariye figure to lead a youth movement in the secondary, but the question will be who leads that group. Okudah’s draft pedigree likely means he gets a shot as the top option, but Melifonwu, Oruwariye, and Dunbar will be fighting for the next outside spot.

With a new defensive coaching staff, Oruwariye does not benefit from familiarity, and he might be relegated to a backup role—the Lions might even experiment with him in the slot. Melifonwu only indirectly impacts Elder if the Lions push Oruwariye inside. Mike Ford, meanwhile, is a special teamer. Melifonwu could see some action there as well, but Ford’s experience on special teams will likely be his path to the roster.

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