The Dallas Cowboys took Defensive Tackle Neville Gallimore in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft in hopes that his power and non-stop motor would add some much-needed depth to the defensive tackle position. Once veteran Gerald McCoy was lost for the season with a torn quadriceps muscle, the importance of Gallimore developing quickly increased.
He struggled to get on the field in the early part of the season as he logged just 20 snaps in the first two games and was inactive the two weeks that followed. Gallimore only made one start through Week 7, however, he started eight of the Cowboys final nine games and registered over 300 snaps during that time.
Experience is the best teacher in the game of football, and with an increased workload as the season progressed, Gallimore saw that he could make a difference on the Cowboy's defensive line.
“I definitely gained more confidence,” Gallimore said, via the team's website. “I think obviously that started with myself, but just the guys around me, trusting me to be in that starting lineup.”
Gallimore's rookie campaign had it's ups and downs. In his second start against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 9, the former Oklahoma Sooner had his breakthrough performance as he graded out as one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league in terms of run defense, run stops, and run stop percentage according to Pro Football Focus.
The next four games weren't as kind to Gallimore. He only recorded seven tackles over that span and in three of those games, he logged just one stop. However, he would finish his first season in the NFL strong.
In the Cowboy's final three games, Gallimore logged 114 snaps (had his two highest snap games during that time) and amassed 11 tackles with a half-sack.
It was a rollercoaster ride, to say the least for Gallimore in 2020. As he enters year two of his career, he realizes that he has to be more steady if the Cowboy's defensive front is to improve after yielding the second-most yards per game against the run last season.
“The biggest thing I feel like they need from me is just to be disruptive and be more consistent,” Gallimore said. “My main thing is getting off the rock, being disruptive, and making plays.”
Although the Cowboys selected Osa Odighizuwa in the third round of the draft and will have Trysten Hill back after tearing his ACL, Gallimore is in the driver seat to be the starter at the 3-technique in 2021. If he secures that spot, he's looking to take his game to a higher plateau.
“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.”
The Cowboys will need a big year from Gallimore if they are to improve on a defense that gave up a franchise-record 473 points last season.