Detroit Lions 2021 draft: Instant reactions and grades

Penei Sewell, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Penei Sewell, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Ifeatu Melifonwu, Detroit Lions
Ifeatu Melifonwu, Detroit Lions (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

Round 3 pick 101: Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse

The Lions decided to spice it up a little with their fourth pick in this year’s draft, spending the pick they got from the Rams in the Stafford trade on corner Ifeatu Melifonwu.

I think Kerryon Johnson’s reaction to this pick should tell you all you need to know. If nothing else the Lions will try their best to lead the NFL in players who have difficult-to-pronounce names.

In all seriousness though, Melifonwu started to slip a little bit in the draft, and Detroit jumped at the Syracuse corner who came into a suddenly crowded room at the outside corner spot.

At 6-foot-2 with 32 inch long arms, Melifonwu is a tall and lengthy corner on the outside that is great at breaking up passes at the catch point. He also is surprisingly good at defending the run and shows a level of intensity that Dan Campbell surely appreciated.

In his three years at Syracuse, he racked up 89 total tackles, which is a very respectable amount. Additionally, he ended his collegiate career with 21 passes defended. However, he only grabbed three interceptions, his ball skills are a bit of a concern but not a significant worry.

In year 1 Malifonwu appears to be fourth on the depth chart behind Jeff Okudah, Amani Oruwariye, and Quinten Dunbar. However, he may have some positional versatility in the secondary.  His size and coverage abilities mean he could see some reps as a deep safety in some of the Lions’ looks on defense.

Nonetheless, Malifalu is someone who will eventually push for a starting role on the outside if he sticks at corner, and he has the size, athleticism, and talent to be a quality player on the outside. Not a pick that fills a huge need right away, but given the fact that Dunbar is likely gone after this upcoming season, and we still don’t know what Oruwariye’s ceiling is, this is a very good pick.

Grade: A-