Safety Obi Melifonwu
Obi Melifownu just wants to play football, and now he's going to be able to do just that.
The Oakland Raiders second-round draft pick officially inked his rookie deal Wednesday afternoon at the team's Napa Valley Training Complex, rendering him immediately available to participate in all football-related activity.
"I'm really glad this process is over," said Melifonwu. "Now, I can focus on football, on plays, and getting on the field, and helping the team win any way I can."
After being selected in the second round (No. 56 overall) of this year's draft, the former UConn Husky participated in the duration of the Silver and Black's Offseason Workout Program but was absent from the first three days of the team's pre camp.
Now, with his deal signed, the athletic safety can participate in the final day of pre camp, and participate fully in training camp, the first practice of which will be held Saturday.
"That was definitely a goal going into this process," Melifonwu said when asked about having a deal done before the start of camp. "Especially being here for OTAs [Organized Team Activities] and Rookie Mini-Camp, and then starting the playbook, and just getting accustomed to the guys. It's just definitely going to be a big start to something great."
Melifonwu joins the Raiders following an impressive career at UConn that saw him total 351 tackles (224 solo), eight interceptions, 16 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, en route to being named First Team All-AAC last year.
As impressive as he was throughout his career as a Husky, Melifonwu really burst onto the scene following a performance at the NFL Scouting Combine that can truly only be described as freakish.
The 23-year-old safety put on a show, and by the end of the week, he had become of the big stories of the combine.
Melifonwu's athleticism is no doubt one of his greatest attributes, and something that Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. and his staff will look to harness in myriad ways over the next several months, and the rookie defensive back is all ears, willing to do whatever he needs to do to help the team.
"Any role that this team has for me I'm excited about," Melifonwu explained. "It's definitely going to be a challenge covering all these great tight ends in the league, but at the same time I'm up for the challenge, and I'm just ready to get after it, and like I said, just help the team any way I can, whether that be special teams, or on defense."
He added, "I'm looking forward to it, stepping on the field, finally full pads, and I'm just really looking forward to getting better every day, taking it one day at a time."