The 2020 Draft class for the Dallas Cowboys has the potential to be one of the best in the organization’s history, that is of course if all the outstanding potential of the talent accumulated reaches their ceilings and beyond. Specifically, the Cowboys retooled on the defensive side of the ball after losing Byron Jones, Robert Quinn, Maliek Collins, and Jeff Heath to free agency, who were all starters in 2019.
Cornerback Trevon Diggs (2nd round), Defensive Tackle Neville Gallimore (3rd round), and Edge Rusher Bradlee Anae (5th round) can all be looked at as draft steals considering their skill sets and where they were selected. With that being said, could all three breakout seasons in their rookie campaigns?
Trevon Diggs, CB
Diggs has the most potential to really stand out in his first season seeing as he’s expected to have a starting role right away. As the heir apparent to the aforementioned Jones as the Cowboys CB1, Diggs brings a unique set of tools to the secondary. He has the size and length at 6’2 and 205 pounds. A major advantage for him is his background at wide receiver which helps him anticipate routes and have the adequate ball skills you want in a corner. His physicality at the line of scrimmage can really disruptive receivers coming off the line, making them that much easier to cover.
One question mark on Diggs coming out of college was his ability to cover faster receivers downfield. Fortunately, he has a few things working in his favor in that regard. One, is the Cowboys revamped defensive line. With the additions of Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, and fellow rookie Gallimore, the Cowboys defense should be much improved in terms of getting pressure on the quarterback, which will cut down on the amount of time Diggs will have to cover seeing as the quarterback will have to get rid of the ball quicker. Also, veteran safeties Xavier Woods and newly acquired Ha Ha Clinton-Dix provide solid help for the rookie in case he gets beat.
Look for Diggs to have a major impact this season.
Neville Gallimore, DT
As mentioned earlier, the Cowboys added veterans McCoy and Poe in free agency and you pretty much pencil them in as starters at the 1-tech and 3-tech. However, when the Cowboys added Gallimore in the third round, the expectations for this defensive front went to another level.
Gallimore has an extremely high motor and a quick first step for a man 6’2 and 304 pounds, which allow him to not only be disruptive against the run but also the pass. In his final collegiate season at Oklahoma, he had career highs in sacks (4) and quarterback pressures (32). Also, over his final two years in Norman, he forced four fumbles, which no doubt makes new Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan excited seeing as his scheme will be geared towards taking the ball away.
At the NFL Combine, Gallimore impressed running a 4.79 in the 40-yard dash, which is unreal for a player with his kind of mass. Nolan’s hybrid scheme will feature three and four-man fronts, and with Gallimore’s ability to play the 1-tech and 3-tech, he’s a movable chess piece along the defensive front. He’ll definitely have to earn his playing time with Antwaun Woods, Tyrone Crawford, and Trysten Hill all competing for snaps as well, but look for Gallimore to be a huge part of the rotation on the defensive line.
Bradlee Anae, Edge
Anae just might be the steal of the entire 2020 NFL Draft. His college career was excellent at Utah as he was a two-time first-team All-Pac 12 selection (2018, 2019) as well as a Consensus first-team All-American (2019). He finished with 30 sacks (school record, fourth in Pac-12 history), 41.5 tackles for loss (school record), and six forced fumbles (eighth in school history). Even with all that being said, somehow he dropped all the way to the fifth-round and gave the Cowboys another unique young talent on defense.
He’s an absolute technician with his hands and doesn’t allow offensive linemen to really get their hands on him. He sells the outside pass rush before stunting inside, uses his inside arm to keep lineman at bay before chopping with his outside arm and bending the edge, or he can use his strength to bull rush. Also, not only can he rush from the perimeter as a defensive end in a 4-3 but he can stand up and play linebacker in a 3-4, which fits Nolan’s defensive scheme perfectly.
He’ll be battling Aldon Smith, soon to be reinstated Randy Gregory and Crawford for snaps but he’s unique ability will see him on the field quite a bit.
Thee different players that all bring a mixed bag of tools to the Cowboys defense and can impact all three levels. Eyes will definitely be on Diggs, Gallimore, and Anae in 2020.