Obi Melifonwu could be the key to a late season run for the Raiders
When the Oakland Raiders drafted Obi Melifonwu in the second round of the NFL Draft, they had one primary task in mind for the young safety: Shut down tight ends.
Unfortunately for Oakland, Melifonwu has spend most of the season on the injured reserve and only just returned to active duty last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. He didn’t play a whole lot in that game as the Raiders wanted to ease him into things, but given the upcoming schedule, they may not be able to afford a gradual transition for the Melifonwu.
The Raiders are behind the eight ball in their journey to make the playoffs for the second straight season and they will need all of the help they can get in order to make that goal a reality.
Enter Melifonwu at potentially the perfect time.
The Raiders have a daunting schedule ahead of them for the final seven weeks of the season and one of the key battles throughout those seven weeks will be found at the tight end position. For the second straight year, opposing tight ends have been an issue for the Raiders and over the next seven weeks, the Raiders will face a lot of high caliber tight end play.
After the bye week, the Raiders take on the New England Patriots who have one of if not the best tight end in the game with Rob Gronkowski. He currently has 34 catches for 509 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Following the game against New England, Oakland plays host to the Broncos. This is actually one of the few games where the opposing tight end is not a huge threat. AJ Derby as 18 catches for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns.
But after Denver, the importance of the tight end battle goes up once again when they take on the New York Giants. Evan Engram is the number one receiver for the Giants with 34 catches for 412 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Next, the Raiders take on the Chiefs and we all know how good Travis Kelce is. Oakland was able to keep him in check in their last game but on the season, Kelce has 51 catches for 629 yards and 5 touchdowns.
After Kansas City, the next opponent on the schedule are the Dallas Cowboys where Jason Whitten continues to defy his age and currently has 35 catches for 319 yards and 3 touchdowns. Not stellar numbers by any means but he remains good enough to hurt the Raiders.
The Raiders then take on the Eagles where Zach Ertz 43 passes for 528 yards and 6 touchdowns. And finally, the Raiders end the season facing the Los Angeles Chargers where Hunter Henry is having a bit of a down season with only 19 catches for 312 yards and 2 touchdowns, but there is no denying how talented the young tight end is.
The the gauntlet of high caliber tight ends facing the Raiders, they can’t afford to wait for Obi Melifonwu to make an impact. He was drafted to cover tight ends and he will be put to the test on just how well he can do that, right away.