Tyree Gillespie - S, Missouri
By the numbers:
5'11", 207 pounds per Senior Bowl measurements.
2020: 46 tackles (0.5 for loss), four passes broken up in nine games played.
Tyree Gillespie is an aggressive safety who plays a physical brand of football. He isn't the biggest player on the field, yet he manages to keep his nose clean in run defense. He's a hard hitter who wraps up with solid form both in traffic and in the open field. Gillespie showed serious flashes of being an enforcer at the next level. He embraces contact in all aspects of the game.
Short-area work is where Gillespie will make his money moving forward. He projects to play well in the box, where he can use his great burst and not have to cover as much ground. He doesn't have the best long speed, so allowing him to act on plays that are in close proximity will maximize his value. Concerns about his overall athleticism won't turn into problems, so long as he isn't asked to do too much.
Gillespie's top-end speed is less than ideal, which may limit his overall potential in the NFL. Despite having experience as a single-high safety at Missouri, he won't be as effective there anymore. If ever assigned to cover speedy wide receivers, he's susceptible to being burnt. That should restrict him to more of a box or roamer role near the line of scrimmage.
Playing consistent football was a minor issue for Gillespie in college. He showed flashes, yet he also had stretches where he had mental lapses in coverage or took bad angles in run defense. He does a good job wrapping up for the most part, although he can be a bit too aggressive at times. With a lack of great speed to make up for it, he can't afford to make many mistakes as a professional.
How Gillespie fits with the Chiefs:
With the Chiefs losing Daniel Sorensen to free agency, adding someone to replace him is a definite need for the defense. Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill will be great starters, but they can't do everything themselves. Gillespie makes sense as a third safety capable of playing in the box. If used as a single-high option, he'd be similar to Sorensen: not a great athlete, but someone who can operate effectively with the play in front of him. It's when things break down that having Gillespie back deep becomes a glaring issue, as was the worry with Sorensen.
At the very least, Gillespie will be great safety depth and serve as a premier special teamer. On the other hand, he has traits that translate well to the NFL and he should be able to carve out a role as a downhill run defender and reliable player within five yards of the line. His ultimate value will be determined by how his first NFL team uses him. Gillespie grades out as a fifth-round pick who has a low ceiling but could still add substance to a Chiefs defense that needs it at the safety position.