2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Joshuah Bledsoeby Mason Thompson April 23, 2021 0 comments
Missouri is sending two safeties to the NFL this year. Both Tyree Gillespie (you can read our report on him here) and Joshuah Bledsoe are sleepers and many people’s “my-guys” in the safety class. Gillespie is more of the free safety type, while Bledsoe is more of a nickel corner/strong safety type. Bledsoe hasn’t taken many reps as a deep safety, and that might hurt his draft stock and sink him to the day three conversation.
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Name: Joshuah Bledsoe
Weight: 201 lbs
Coverage Skills (8.25/10)
As a slot cornerback, Bledsoe goes against the offense’s slot receiver. In the Florida game, that happened to be against Kadarius Toney and Kyle Pitts on varying snaps. Bledsoe didn’t do too horrible against the two besides giving up one touchdown to Toney, who eventually scored three touchdowns in the whole game. Only one of those came with Bledsoe in coverage. He is physical with the receiver from the jump and will try everything he can to make sure they don’t secure the catch.
Ball Skills (8.25/10)
Bledsoe only had one interception in college, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He secured the win against LSU last year by breaking up a pass, and he is great in man coverage at reading and reacting to where the ball will wind up with the receiver.
Change of Direction (7.5/10)
Not to keep beating a dead horse, but the touchdown he gave up against Toney looked awful. Bledsoe made himself look like a fool on the play, and Toney is a more shifty receiver. It is a bit concerning, but that is the only bad play in this regard.
If Bledsoe needs to beat another player to a spot, he will. He is a good mover and has good agility to move anywhere in space. Bledsoe used this tool in a lot of ways, even in his run support and tackling.
Run Support (8.25/10)
He is a very good run defender. Bledsoe can disengage from blocks fairly and uses his good lateral movement to get to a spot and help make the tackle. He won’t get suckered in by read-option plays and is good at diagnosing where the running lane is and beating offensive linemen to that spot, aiming to make the tackle.
For a defensive back, Bledsoe has an absurd tackling ability. He is an aggressive tackler and doesn’t back down when a bigger back or tight end is coming at him. When Bledsoe was the last line of defense, he made the tackle and sometimes saved touchdowns.
Bledsoe doesn’t have many reps as a high-safety. He is best fit as a strong safety or slot cornerback that plays closer to the line of scrimmage to help out against slot receivers and in the run game. Bledsoe does have good quickness to get the job done if he is asked to play deep.
The main part missing from Bledsoe’s game is playing as a deep safety. He has played in the box as a sub linebacker, setting the edge in the run game, strong safety, and slot cornerback. Bledsoe will be a factor on special teams as well because of his plus block deconstruction skills.
Football IQ (6.75/10)
When he’s in the box, Bledsoe has no issues diagnosing route combinations and reading and reacting. The Florida game did show some issues of this, but that was in one game. The issue here is that Bledsoe has little experience playing as a high safety, which will hurt his draft stock.
Competitive Toughness (5/5)
Bledsoe is feisty. He isn’t afraid to get hit or take on bigger players to keep the other team from scoring. Bledsoe can get off blocks and work his way to the runner to make a tackle and sift through muddier areas.
His injury sheet appears to be clean.
Bledsoe and Gillespie are two very different players. If a team needs a free safety, get Gillespie, who can also play strong safety. A lot of teams in the NFL need a slot cornerback, and that could be Bledsoe. Bledsoe comes in higher than Gillespie for my rankings because of his fluidity and run defending skills. Both graded out as third-round prospects. The two Missouri defenders should turn out to be good and maybe even great players in the NFL.
Final Grade (80/100): Early Third Round