The Missouri Tigers haven’t had a defensive back drafted to the NFL since 2014. This year, the Tigers have not one, but two safety prospects who have a chance of making it to the league. What does the 2021 NFL Draft have in store for the lesser-known of the two, Joshuah Bledsoe?
Joshuah Bledsoe NFL Draft Player Profile
- Position: Safety
- School: Missouri
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 5’11 1/2″
- Weight: 201 pounds
Tony Pauline’s Joshuah Bledsoe Scouting Report
Positives: Nice-sized safety with a well-rounded game. Quick to read and diagnose, keeps the action in front of him, and is effective playing over the slot receiver. Works to get his head back around to locate the pass in man coverage, displays a burst of closing speed, and gives terrific effort. Mixes it up with receivers throughout the route. Fires up the field and aggressively defends the run.
Negatives: Slow transitioning with opponents off the line of scrimmage, which puts him a half-step behind receivers. Totaled just 1 career interception in college.
Analysis: Bledsoe comes with solid measurables and ball skills as well as a head for the game. Best between the numbers, he’s a zone safety who will add value on coverage units.
Joshuah Bledsoe Player Profile
A Houston native, Bledsoe emerged as a playmaker for Dekaney High School. Despite heading to the 2021 NFL Draft as a safety prospect, he found a way to impact the game in multiple ways as a high school athlete. During his senior season, he saw time as a running back, as well as a kick/punt returner. His playmaking ability resulted in 12 touchdowns as a senior. Bledsoe rushed for 9 scores, caught another, returned a punt, and took a fumble for six.
Despite displaying offensive ability, his defensive acumen was apparent from his junior season. He recorded 49 tackles, 1 interception, and 4 pass breakups in 2015. Further impressive performances saw him secure 2 interceptions and 1 pass breakup as a senior. Meanwhile, he provided an early glimpse of the tackling ability that would make him one of the more physical defensive backs in college football.
A three-star recruit, he held offers from Louisiana-Monroe and Rice early on. However, the lure of the SEC and a relationship built with the Tigers’ coaching staff led him to play safety for Missouri.
Joshuah Bledsoe’s college football career at Missouri
Despite not being heavily recruited, Bledsoe saw significant playing time in his first two seasons. As a freshman in 2017, he played with physicality against the best in the country. He was impressive against Georgia, and, against Tennessee, he recorded the first sack of his career. Tennessee would fall victim to his playmaking ability once again in 2018, as the Missouri safety recovered a fumble and returned it for a 39-yard touchdown.
His ability to disrupt the game in the secondary became apparent as a junior. Bledsoe led the Tigers with 10 pass breakups, becoming the first Missouri safety to secure double-digit deflections in over a decade. He also continued to demonstrate his ability as a tackler, registering the third-most tackles on the team. That tally included 4 tackles for loss.
He almost eclipsed his tackling production from 2019 despite the shortened 2020 season. Once again leading the Missouri secondary in pass breakups, he added his first career interception against Mississippi State in what would be the final game of his college career.
Following the conclusion of the season, Bledsoe declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. He earned a Senior Bowl invite and reportedly had productive meetings with at least three NFL teams in Mobile.
Joshuah Bledsoe’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Missouri safety Bledsoe offers a tough-tackling, versatile skill set for a team in the 2021 NFL Draft. He does his best coverage work in the slot. Additionally, his tackling ability means he can be a nightmare for opposing offenses as a box safety. Bledsoe may not be held in as high regard as teammate Tyree Gillespie, but he should be considered a late Day 3 prospect. Either way, there is every reason to believe that both Missouri safety prospects will hear their name called in Cleveland.
Multiple teams are expected to address the safety position at some point in the 2021 NFL Draft. Of those, the Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills, and Denver Broncos make solid fits in the later rounds.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.