Detroit Lions sign Ifeatu Melifonwu, who should compete for playing time this season

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions announced Friday they have signed third-round pick Ifeatu Melifonwu, and now have all seven picks from the 2021 draft class under contract.

During the draft, the Lions thought about trading up for Melifonwu, a big, athletic cornerback from Syracuse who had three interceptions and 23 pass breakups in two seasons as a starter.

Listed at 6 feet 3 and 204 pounds, Melifonwu should compete for a backup role behind presumptive starters Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye. Reserves include slot corner Corn Elder and Quinton Dunbar.

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“There is no reason this young man shouldn’t be a superstar,” ESPN analyst Louis Riddick said after the Lions selected Melifonwu at the end of the third round, No. 101 overall. “You watch him play at the line of scrimmage, he may be the best press corner in this draft as far as being patient at the line and jamming with the proper hand. He’s got speed to run with people down the field. He can finish on the football with interceptions.”

The rest of the Lions’ inaugural draft class under general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell: Right tackle Penei Sewell, defensive tackles Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill, receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, linebacker Derrick Barnes and running back Jermar Jefferson.

The Lions have their first public training camp practice July 31 in Allen Park, with Family Fest at Ford Field scheduled Aug. 7.

The Lions open the exhibition season Aug. 13 vs. Buffalo. They host San Francisco in Week 1 of the regular season Sept. 12.

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