One of the unintended (or in some cases intended) benefits of such a lousy season is that the team gets a chance to evaluate their young talent.
The Cowboys went into 2020 expecting Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe to take the majority of their interior defensive line reps, but due to injury (McCoy) and poor play (Poe), those plans changed quickly.
Instead, they turned to rookie defensive tackle Neville Gallimore. The third round pick was thought of to be a bit of a project on the inside, and while the Cowboys obviously liked his potential enough to draft him, they signed those veteran tackles for a reason.
Gallimore was thrust into increased playing time midway through the season, and he had a rollercoaster of a performance. At his worst, we saw Gallimore get moved off the ball far too often and consistently be out of position. He was, well, really bad early in the season and that third round pick was already looking like an L.
As the year went on, though, Gallimore visibly improved. He went from a massive liability on the inside to a reasonable starting defensive tackle. He even showed flashes of dominance at times, particularly with a couple splash plays against the San Francisco 49ers.
Neville Gallimore finished fifth in stops and sixth in run-stop % this year among rookie interior defenders, per PFF. #Cowboys
Former Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Nolan spoke to this improvement during the season, noting that he saw Gallimore get better and better every week.
“He’s improved every week…He’s continued to work extremely hard in practice and it showed” – Mike Nolan.
As it stands now, Neville Gallimore will have every opportunity to start in 2021. The depth on the interior simply isn’t there right now, and it is a clear position of need heading into the offseason. Still, with so much money already tied up and a massive deal for quarterback Dak Prescott coming, there likely won’t be a ton of flexibility this Spring.
Veteran tackle Gerald McCoy is expected by many to be back with the team, and he would be a welcomed addition, but you’ll still see plenty of action from Gallimore next year.
Hopefully he can continue his upwards trajectory, becoming the trusted defensive tackle the Cowboys have lacked in recent seasons.