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Missouri’s Tyree Gillespie could bring top-end athleticism to Chiefs’ secondary

29 Days of Draftmas brings you a local prospect with great deep speed.

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

A very Merry Draftmas to you!

We continue our tradition of profiling an NFL Draft prospect every day in April, leading up to the NFL Draft on April 29th. Every day, you’ll get a prospect profile that includes how they would fit with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Here’s a full write-up from this year’s edition of the 2021 KC Draft Guide, which was released on Monday: a local safety with a high-end athletic profile.


Tyree Gillespie, Safety

Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

6’ | 207 lbs | Missouri

Ocala, FL

Grade (round): Fourth

Stats: 46 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 4 pass breakups

Background: Three-star recruit who was an accomplished safety and running back coming out of high school. Started out as a special teams star for Missouri before earning a starting role as a sophomore. Continued to start his final two years at Missouri, becoming one of the team’s leaders. Has dealt with issues for personal fouls and targeting penalties.

Strengths: Gillespie is a rare blend of top-end athleticism and reckless abandon — and the two can come together beautifully. His ability to click-and-close downhill against the run is among the best in the class. When working toward the ball carrier, he has elite explosion and closing speed; he loads up every ounce of momentum through his hips into contact. He shows good range as a run defender, staying active near the line of scrimmage on both outside and inside runs. Missouri often used Gillespie as a centerfield defender, showcasing some versatility and range. He has great deep speed, which allows him to cover a lot of ground on the back end and still punish underneath routes; when he is in zone coverage, running across the middle of the field is a dangerous game because there aren’t many places on the field he can’t reach in a hurry.

Weaknesses: The game is still processing rather slowly for Gillespie; he can be too late to identify the play. His ability to close downhill against the run is incredible, but his identification of running plays is hit or miss. Too often, he will also take over-aggressive angles, forcing himself to later flatten his angle and put himself in a chase situation. The issues with mental processing also show up in coverage. He must constantly use his athletic traits to battle from behind because he is late to see route combinations and is too easily influenced by a quarterback’s eyes. Despite his athletic ability, he doesn’t play well in man coverage. In college, Gillespie hasn’t had a lot of ball production; he doesn’t look natural when approaching the football. He’s most comfortable crashing downhill — but when he has to turn, run and locate the ball, he often loses it.

How he fits with the Chiefs: Over the past few years, the Chiefs have been introducing better and better athletes into the secondary — especially at safety. Their desire to get faster on the back end (and up the middle) has been evident — and a player like Gillespie would fit that path. He has the athletic profile to play in any back-end role — and he has the size and physical nature to play well in the box. If he can pick up the game, he could become a very good depth piece at safety — and eventually take over Daniel Sorensen’s role.

Player comp: Shamarko Thomas

Fit Likelihood: High


KC Draft Guide

The 2021 edition of the KC Draft Guide is now available!

The Draft Guide provides a one-stop shop that shows how the top college prospects fit with your Kansas City Chiefs. This digital download includes detailed analysis and profiles for hundreds of prospects, player comps, scheme-fit analysis, a Chiefs draft pick trade chart, features, a mock draft and more!