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Mizzou has its most productive NFL Draft class since 2015

The Tigers had five former players selected in the 2021 NFL Draft. Let’s take a look at where they’re going and how they fit in their new situations.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Mizzou was expected to have five players selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, and all five heard their names called by the end of the day on Saturday. It was the first time the Tigers had at least five players selected in a draft since 2015, and just the third time the Tigers have had at least five players selected in the last 35 years.

Nick Bolton was the first Missouri player selected, hearing his name called in the second round (58th overall) by the Kansas City Chiefs. He became the Tigers’ first off-ball linebacker selected with a top 100 pick since Zavier Gooden in 2013.

The Raiders traded up late in the fourth round to take former Tigers safety Tyree Gillespie with the 143rd overall pick. He and Joshuah Bledsoe, selected by the New England Patriots in the sixth round with the 188th overall pick, were the first Mizzou safeties selected in the NFL Draft since William Moore was a second round pick by the Atlanta Falcons in 2009.

I know Mizzou is known as “D-Line Zou,” but the Tigers have done a heck of a job producing offensive linemen in recent years. When Larry Borom was selected in the fifth round with the 151st overall pick by the Chicago Bears, he became Missouri’s fifth offensive lineman selected in the NFL Draft in the last seven years. Borom joined Justin Britt (2014), Mitch Morse (2015), Connor McGovern (2016) and Evan Boehm (2016) on that list.

The final Mizzou player to go off the board was running back Larry Rountree III, who went in the middle of the sixth round to the Los Angeles Chargers with the 198th overall pick. He became the highest drafted Mizzou running back since Damien Nash was selected in the fifth round in 2005 by the Tennessee Titans.

The Tigers’ five players selected was not only impressive relative to their previous NFL Draft success, but also when compared to the rest of the SEC at large. The only SEC schools with more players selected in the 2021 draft than Missouri were Alabama (10), Georgia (9), Florida (8), LSU (7) and Kentucky (6).

Let’s take a look at the reaction to each player’s selection.

2nd Round (#58) - Kansas City Chiefs - Linebacker Nick Bolton

It came as a bit of a surprise Bolton was still available late in the second round for the Chiefs. Linebacker wasn’t the Chiefs’ biggest need, but Bolton could work his way into the starting lineup right away with a good camp. He has a chance to be the eventual replacement for Chiefs starting middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens as early as next season (2022).

4th Round (#142) - Las Vegas Raiders -Safety Tyree Gilespie

The Raiders had an, umm, interesting draft. Three of their first five selections were listed as safeties. Gillespie will compete with veterans Karl Joseph, Jonathan Abram and Jeff Heath, along with fellow rookie Trevon Moehrig for snaps at safety. He’ll likely see the majority of his contributions on special teams early in his career.

5th Round (#151) - Chicago Bears - Offensive Tackle Larry Borom

Chicago is a borderline ideal landing spot for Borom. The Bears’ biggest need going into the offseason was obviously quarterback, and they fixed that with the addition of former Ohio State star Justin Fields. But Chicago’s second biggest need was the offensive line. The Bears addressed it early with former Oklahoma State offensive tackle Teven Jenkins, and they went back to the well in the fifth round with Borom. Borom will fight for a spot as the top backup on the team at both tackle and guard. He has a strong chance of making the roster, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he sees playing time right away.

6th Round (#188) - New England Patriots - Safety Joshuah Bledsoe

I’m not sure there’s a single team in the league that would have been a better landing spot for Bledsoe than the Patriots. Bledsoe is a chess piece on the back end of any defense. He can play in the slot, he can line up in the box at linebacker and he can play deep at safety. Belichick will love that versatility. Bledose joins a deep group of safeties in New England, so the majority of his playing time early on will come via special teams.

6th Round (#198) - Los Angeles Chargers - Running Back Larry Rountree III

The Chargers have three established running backs in Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see Rounree work his way onto the active roster. Kelley played in 14 games as a true freshman last year and adds more in the passing game than Rountree, but he averaged just 3.2 yards per carry and Rountree might be a better fit as a change-of-pace back along with Ekeler and Jackson. Rountree will have to find his way on special teams to earn his spot on the roster, but I don’t think any Mizzou fans will be surprised if he does exactly that.