Melifonwu had been sidelined for most of his rookie season due to a severe quad injury suffered in Week Two against the Green Bay Packers. The Detroit Lions are decimated in the secondary due to injury and COVID-19.
The rookie corner and a host of Detroit Lions were forced to miss this past Sunday’s game in Dever due to the never-ending coronavirus pandemic. Detroit is already without no. 3 pick Jeff Okudah who suffered a torn Achilles in Week One, A.J. Parker (out with an ankle injury), and now Jerry Jacobs, who suffered a torn ACL.
It’s an unfortunate blow to Jacobs, who had emerged as a very good starting outside corner playing opposite Amani Oruwariye in Okudah’s absence. Jacobs certainly played his way into Detroit’s future, and as you can see, NFL teams can never have too many cornerbacks.
In addition to those injured players, the Lions recently placed Bobby Price, Nickell Roby-Coleman, Corey Ballentine, Mark Gilbert, and safety Tracy Walker have all landed on the COVID-reserve list.
Rookie corner Ifeatu Melifonwu will get an audition with the Detroit Lions over the final four weeks.
Understanding all this chaos, if Melifonwu successfully returns to the team after being placed on the COVID-19 list, he will see himself in a significant role starting opposite Oruwariye but with big shoes to fill.
The Detroit Lions selected Melifonwu with the no. 102 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, with high expectations for the former product of Syracuse.
The 6-foot-3 rookie has only appeared in three games this season for Detroit, playing a total of 52 defensive snaps. In that small sample, Melifonwu has produced an overall grade of 53.1, courtesy of Pro Football Focus (PFF).
Over those three games, Melifonwu has been targeted just five times but has allowed four catches totaling 86 yards. Expect the lengthy rookie corner to try and make a positive impression similar to Jacobs during the remainder of the season. We all know the Lions need to continue finding playmakers throughout their roster as they finally hope to steer the ship in a positive direction.
On Tuesday, the Detroit Lions claimed journeyman Saivion Smith off waivers, and he may be pressed into duty right away. Smith has spent time with the San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks since being initially signed as an undrafted free agent in 2019 by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Detroit Lions may also turn to former Michigan State standout, Shakur Brown who was recently signed to the team’s practice squad.