The 2021 NFL Draft begins on Thursday, April 29 and runs though Saturday, May 1, and Mizzou is expecting to have multiple players hear their names called at some point throughout the extended weekend. The list of Tigers expected to be selected at some point in the draft includes: linebacker Nick Bolton, offensive lineman Larry Borom, running back Larry Rountree III, safety Tyree Gillespie and defensive back Joshuah Bledsoe. Wide receivers Damon Hazelton, Johnathon Johnson and Jonathan Nance could also find their way into an NFL Training camp.
Rock M Nation is taking a deep dive into each player’s NFL Draft stock breaking down strengths, weaknesses and potential team fit.
Today we’re breaking down Mizzou defensive back Tyree Gillespie.
Name: Tyree Gillespie
Position: Defensive Back
Weight: 207 pounds
Arm Length: 31 1/4”
Hand Length: 9 5/8“
Wing Span: 75 1/4”
Draft Projection: 4th Round
Pro Day Measurables:
40-yard dash: 4.42
Bench press (225 pounds): 15
Vertical jump: 35.5
Broad jump: 9’0”
Three-cone drill: 7.06
20-yard shuttle: 4.39
Tyree Gillespie is fairly unique, considering the guys he best compares to. He might not have the stats but the physical characteristics are there pic.twitter.com/HHarctL4oI— Nate Edwards (@NateGEdwards) April 22, 2021
Player Comparison: Rams Defensive Back Taylor Rapp
Games Played: 42 (27 starts)
Total Tackles: 146 (6.5 tackles for loss)
Passes Defended: 12
Forced Fumbles: 1
Fumble Recoveries: Zero
Defensive Touchdowns: Zero
A two-star recruit out of high school, Gillespie was the No. 144 safety in the class and the No. 280 recruit in the state of Florida. He received recruiting interest from several Florida schools, but the only Power 5 schools to offer him were Iowa State, Louisville and Missouri. Gillespie visited Columbia and committed the week before signing day.
Gillespie started as a high-energy special teams player his freshman year but worked his way into the starting safety tandem his sophomore year, earning a start against Alabama and then never relinquishing the spot.
Gillespie has great football IQ and tremendous disruptive potential against the run but his performance, and stats, against the pass are what holds him back. In the modern NFL safeties need to reliably disrupt the passing game and his lack of interceptions is sure to give teams pause. He might be a project but any team who gets him will obtain a tremendous worker, phenomenal athlete, and a load of potential over the years to come.
What scouts and analysts are saying about Bledsoe:
From Dane Brugler of The Athletic:
STRENGTHS: Rangy player once he sees it, taking aggressive angles to the football...understands field leverage and flies to the edges to shut down perimeter runs...settles his feet and drops his pads into ball carriers, creating stopping power as a tackler...good-sized safety who will stroke ball carriers across the middle of the field...good timing on his hits, both in coverage and against the run, creating fumble opportunities...operates under control in coverage with adequate foot quickness in his pedal-and-drive mechanics...three-year starter in the SEC and experienced as a gunner on punt coverage.WEAKNESSES: Inconsistent instincts in coverage...needs to better anticipate throws instead of waiting for the ball to come out before making his move...can be caught flat-footed and doesn’t show the burst to make up for his late start...marginal ball skills and didn’t record an interception in 42 games played in college (but had a few drops)...inconsistent feel as a man-coverage defender...tight-hipped as a finisher and tends to go too high on tackle attempts, leading to facemask penalties...was banged up as a senior and missed the final game of the season due to injury.
Missouri safety Tyree Gillespie projects as a depth player in the NFL who is capable of fulfilling significant snaps in spot duty and act as a primary special teams contributor on kick coverages. Gillespie offers some sturdy tackling and has spent the vast majority of his reps as a starter with the Tigers acting as the post safety in single-high coverage. His projection is much less favorable to playing single high in the pros; he’ll be better served working as a split safety and not being charged with commanding the entire middle of the field by himself. He’s a physical football player—teams that covet the potential of an enforcer on the back end will certainly have him earmarked as a potential value buy. Gillespie has NFL caliber functional athleticism but not to the degree in which he’d need it to fulfill a prominent starting role in the back end of an NFL defense.
Safety prospect with the physical and athletic profile to make it in the league, but finding the right spot for him could be the key. Gillespie frequently roamed as a single-high safety in the Missouri scheme. He plays with decent instincts on the back-end, but might not have enough range to offer over-the-top help at the next level. He can be fluid in pursuit when running the alleys and working near the line of scrimmage but will need to improve tackle angles to prevent slip outs and misses. He appears to have the strength and athleticism to handle some man coverage on matchup tight ends, but the lack of ball production is a bit of a concern. Gillespie should be an early contributor on special teams with enough versatility to be looked at in a variety of schemes, although there might not be a perfect fit for him.