The defensive tackle position is one the Dallas Cowboys thought the fixed during free agency in 2020 with the additions of veterans Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe. Unfortunately, both were off of the roster by October, but a young stud at the position was waiting in weeds for his shot to impress.
Neville Gallimore's rare combination of size, speed, and power coming out of Oklahoma was too much to pass up for the Cowboys in the third round of the NFL Draft. He struggled to see the field early but showed his potential as the season went on and eventually became the lead dog at the 3-technique.
“His biggest strides have been in the weight room – strength and conditioning,” McCarthy said. “He is in tremendous, tremendous shape. Like a lot of rookies, it's a threshold to get over the level of conditioning to play in the league the first year. So all the way through – his weight, his conditioning, he's had a tremendous, tremendous offseason. He looks great. He has complete understanding whereas last year he was just learning the defense, how we wanted him to play, the different stances, and things like that. But Neville has taken a huge jump in the offseason.”
Stopping the run is something the Cowboys were awful at least season, finishing 31st in the NFL. However, in his second career start against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 9, albeit in a loss, Gallimore showed the kind of run-stuffer he could be. He finished as one of the best interior defensive linemen for that week when it came to run defense grade, run stops, and run stop percentage according to Pro Football Focus.
You make this many plays in a day as a rookie, Neville Gallimore, we're gonna make a montage! pic.twitter.com/rnNP2nwVH5
— Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm) November 11, 2020
After back-to-back pedestrian performances against the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Football Team, Gallimore came on strong in the final five games. He registered 16 tackles and a half-sack in 187 snaps over that span.
The former Sooner will have something working in his favor this season and that's better play at the 1-technique. Brent Urban posted an 83.7 run defense grade which was third among all defensive tackles in 2020. Rookie Quinton Bohanna is a 330-pound monster that stands 6'4 and does an excellent job taking on double teams, much like Urban has done throughout his career. This means one-on-one opportunities will be available for Gallimore, and with his relentless motor, power, and quickness coming off of the line of scrimmage, he can stuff the run as well as pressure the quarterback.
Gallimore's rookie campaign had its highs and lows. Nonetheless, he's focused on finding himself as a player and being a cornerstone piece for the Cowboy's defensive line.
“I know as I continue to grow and continue to progress, there's a different type of player that I'm working my tail off to tap into,” Gallimore said. “And understanding that as I continue to build and make progress, that I could be dominant. And that's what I'm striving to be.”
Gallimore will be the Cowboys starting 3-technique in 2021 barring anything unforeseen. He still has room for improvement, but the big man is taking the necessary steps to be a very effective force on the interior of the Cowboy's defensive line.