5 prospects on defense for the Panthers to monitor at Senior Bowl

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Carlos Basham Jr.
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Carlos Basham Jr. /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Ifeatu Melifonwu /

Ifeatu Melifonwu – CB (Syracuse)

One area that the Carolina Panthers definitely need to strengthen this offseason is cornerback. Donte Jackson looked the part when he finally rid himself of a frustrating toe problem, Corn Elder should be extended after a promising campaign, but Rasul Douglas might not be so lucky and it’s clear the rookie duo of Troy Pride Jr. and Stantley Thomas-Oliver need a little more time to develop.

Getting quality corners in via free agency isn’t normally cheap, so the Panthers may have to scour the 2021 NFL Draft for a couple of prospects who can immediately contribute. Ifeatu Melifonwu fits the mold of what Carolina is trying to build and has all the makings of a good NFL cornerback if he makes further progress.

His 6-foot-3 frame is matched by a large wingspan and physicality that is sure to go down well with scouts. Melifonwu is a solid contributor in run support because of this and the prospect also comes with some eye-catching ability in press coverage – an area in which the Panthers struggled in 2020.

Melifonwu might be better suited to the safety position over time, but his high athletic prowess makes him an intriguing option for Carolina to consider providing he can build on a promising college career at Syracuse.

The coaching staff will get to see this for themselves at the Senior Bowl, with route anticipation and coping in zone coverage schemes something for them to monitor closely where Melifonwu is concerned.