The 2021 NFL Draft is nearly over and the Las Vegas Raiders took not one, not two, but three defensive backs, adding cornerback Tyree Gillespie to the mix on Day Three, using the No. 143 overall pick.
Defensive back was a major position of need for the Silver and Black entering the Draft, and it's safe to say General Manager Mike Mayock and Head Coach Jon Gruden addressed the need. Gillespie will join fellow rookies Trevon Moehrig (No. 43 overall) and Divine Deablo (No. 80 overall) as the newest members of the secondary, and try to make an impact from the jump.
Friday night, Mayock shared that Moehrig and Deablo were both on his radar early in the draft process, and the same goes for Gillespie. The former Missouri Tiger and the Raiders conducted interviews early on, and like Moehrig and Deablo, the Raiders told him they liked his body of work.
"They told me they liked that a lot," Gillespie told reporters Saturday. "I'm a very valuable player. I'm versatile, so they could just put me on the field anywhere and I can make plays."
As a rookie, versatility will be the name of the game and the Raiders could always use more playmakers. Whether he's dropping back in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley's defense or carving out a role in special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia's unit, Gillespie doesn't care where he plays because he's confident he can leave his mark on the game.
"I feel like you just put me on the field and just let me make plays," he said. "I feel like I'm a playmaker, I'm going to make a lot of plays. So, just put me on the field and let me do my thing."
Gillespie's versatility is something the Raiders are looking to take advantage of. The cornerback is capable of hanging with speedy receivers and powerful tight ends in coverage. He's a physical tackler and can build speed quickly running downhill. He relies on his instincts to take smart angles to the point of attack and isn't afraid to get in the mix.
"I take a huge pride in that part of the game," Gillespie said when asked about being a hard-hitting corner. "I feel like that's what's missing half the time, so I just feel like that's what I take my pride in the most."
It may take some time to identify where Gillespie will fit best, but it's of no importance to him right now. Gillespie is grateful to be drafted and is honored to be a Raider.
"It's an honor, you know what I'm saying? Words can't explain. I just want to give all the glory to God. I want to thank the owner, Mark Davis. I want to thank the head coach, Jon Gruden. And I want to thank the GM, Mike Mayock, just for the opportunity that I'm blessed with."
With the 143rd overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders select safety Tyree Gillespie.