2021 NFL Draft: 5 former Tigers selected, matching Mizzou's largest draft class since 2009

Eric Blum
Columbia Daily Tribune

Missouri football produced one of its largest draft classes of the past decade, with five former Tigers being selected during the 2021 NFL Draft this weekend.

The class matches the number drafted out of the program in 2015, but was one short of the Tigers' six-player 2009 draft class. Chase Daniel, who went undrafted in '09, is the only Missouri player to enter the draft process that year who is still in the NFL. 

After the Chiefs selected Nick Bolton in the second round as the only Tiger taken Friday, four Missouri alums were claimed during the latter four rounds of the draft Saturday. 

Safety Tyree Gillespie was chosen in the fourth round by the Las Vegas Raiders, and offensive lineman Larry Borom was selected eight picks later in the fifth round by the Chicago Bears at No. 151 overall.

Safety Joshuah Bledsoe is headed to the New England Patriots, who took him with the No. 188 overall selection, the fourth pick of the sixth round.

Completing this year's MU draft class was running back Larry Rountree, bound for the Los Angeles Chargers after being selected in the sixth round at No. 198 overall. 

Daniel also joined the Chargers this offseason. Rountree was in third grade when the former Missouri quarterback finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting.

At the MU pro day in March, Rountree participated in running back drills and also took passes as a wide receiver — a move he hopes helps him stand out among his competition.

"I would say I've always been an underdog," Rountree said. "Coming out of high school, I was a two-star. So I've always had a permanent chip on my shoulder. ... Guys weren't talking about me coming out of high school. Nobody knew about me. That's why it's surprising what I did here at Mizzou.

"But still at the end of the day, I can't control how people talk about me. The only thing I can control is how I play. ... No matter what, if you think another guy's better than me, at the end of the day, I know what I can do. So it's more a fact of how I take it."

Rountree, Gillespie and Bledsoe were all members of Missouri's chapter of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, alongside several other teammates. 

Gillespie was a late draft riser and shot up draft boards after a 40-yard dash time of 4.38 seconds at the pro day March 22. Gillespie's second rep was 4.40.

Gillespie, an Ocala, Florida, native, said his showing was "very expected" thanks to hard work and dedication.

"Day in and day out, just grinding and not taking a second off," Gillespie said of his mindset ahead of the draft. "Eat, sleep and train all the time, and never get complacent."

Known as a solid tackler and heavy hitter during his time in Columbia, the 6-foot, 207-pound Gillespie was projected to be selected as early as the third round and as late as the fifth.

First gaining prominent attention in 2019, Gillespie started 11 of 12 games for the Tigers, posting 50 tackles, four tackles for loss and seven pass deflections.

In 2020, Gillespie started eight of nine contests, missing one of Missouri's games with an injury. He finished the year with 46 tackles and four pass deflections.

Bledsoe didn't know if he'd hear his name called during the 2021 NFL Draft, as projections had him ranked anywhere from the fifth round to undrafted.

The Houston-area native gained widespread attention for making the game-clinching defensive play against LSU last October, giving Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz the first win of his tenure against the defending national champion.

"(He's got) ice water through his veins and he's always been a humble child. He's always been a humble athlete. And he's not one to boast a lot," Anthony Williams, Bledsoe's high school coach, said last year. "He just lets his play speak for himself. ... He's been a leader through his actions since I've known him.

"And I just know that, if the game was on the line, I'm going to Joshuah Bledsoe win or lose. And I'm happy to deal with whatever the result is because I know I probably went with the best option that I had."

Bledsoe finished the 2020 season with 41 tackles, three tackles for loss, six pass deflections, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Borom started at right tackle for the Tigers the past two years.

In 2019, Borom started alongside three offensive linemen who spent time on NFL rosters last season. Yasir Durant played for the Chiefs, Trystan Colon-Castillo saw action for the Ravens and Tre'Vour Wallace-Simms was on the Jaguars practice squad.

Borom was one of two returning starters on the offensive line for MU this past season, alongside team captain Case Cook, helping the Tigers to their first College Football Playoff ranking since 2018.

During Borom's pro day workout, the 6-foot-6, 322-pound behemoth showed off some yoga poses alongside traditional blocking scenarios.

"It's flexibility," said Borom, who trimmed down more than 20 pounds from December to this spring. "Hip, ankle, knees, just making sure you can bend and be in the right position at all times. It's huge."

The Detroit native was projected to come off the board starting in round five, with a likelier selection predicted for the final two rounds of the draft.

Contact Eric Blum at eblum@columbiatribune.com. Follow @ByEricBlum on Twitter.

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