Cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu is the second Orange player off the draft board. It took a couple rounds, but the South Grafton, Mass. native was picked 101st in the third round.
The 6’3″ junior raised his draft stock immensely after lacing together one of the best pro days amongst defensive backs. Melifonwu’s splits included a 41.5″ vertical and an 11 foot, two-inch broad jump. Those numbers would have ranked in the top 10 out of all participants and third among all DBs in the 2020 NFL Draft combine.
The former Syracuse defensive back started two years at SU in three total seasons. He racked up nearly 90 tackles, as well as 21 pass deflections and a trio of interceptions. In 2019, Melifonwu led his team with eight pass breakups and ranked third in the ACC in pass deflections per game. He followed that up in 2020 logging the third most tackles among cornerbacks in the conference and was selected as a third team All-ACC member.
He joins a Lions group that allowed the sixth least points in the NFL last season. Detroit’s depth chart isn’t loaded at the cornerback position, but the expected starters include Quinton Dunbar and Jeff Okudah (last year’s first round pick).
With safety Andre Cisco picked 65th to the Jaguars, and Melifonwu joining him in the third round, it is the first time since 2001 that two Orange players have been drafted in the opening three rounds in the same draft. They are also the first pair of SU DBs in the same draft class in 23 years.