Once the Dallas Cowboys made the decision to cut ties with Dez Bryant, it led to some backlash from fans who were advocating for the franchise’s all-time touchdown leader. At 29-years-old, though, it was apparent in 2017, and for a few years previous, that injuries, age, and a change in quarterback led to Bryant taking a step back in production. The Cowboys were no longer willing to allocate a hefty price tag towards Bryant; it was simply not worth it.
Despite the free-agent signings of Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson, Dallas has made it clear that they want to have competition in each position room. The Cowboys still needed to add another talented wide receiver or two in the draft.
It had been speculated that the Cowboys would use their first-round pick on one of the blue-chip receiving prospects like Calvin Ridley or D.J. Moore. Instead, Dallas opted to upgrade their defense by adding Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch, and the value was too good to pass up on Connor Williams in the second round.
Dallas eventually used their third-round pick on Colorado State’s Michael Gallup.
While the team may not come out and say it, the Cowboys have certain criteria they look for in particular position groups. To excel in what the Cowboys want to do in both the running and passing game, the Cowboys prefer for their receivers to be around/over 6-feet, 200 pounds. Sure there are some outliers, but those players like Cole Beasley are relegated to the inside. Gallup fits right in that criteria at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds.
In terms of production, Gallup simply dominated competition in the Mountain West. Granted, he did not play for a high-profile conference like other top receiving prospects, but that should not devalue Gallup. His grades in high school led to him to playing at a JUCO before transferring to play for the Rams.
At his size, Gallup is extremely fluid in his movements. He is a natural athlete, and off the line of scrimmage his quickness and moves allows him to break free of press coverage. He is a crisp route-runner who displays professionalism with each of his routes. He cuts well, can change direction swiftly, and makes subtle moves that leaves defenders in the dust.
Once the ball in his hands, he can be extremely dangerous. If you really think about the Cowboys’ offense in the past few years, they have not had a receiver with explosive YAC ability. Using a variety of moves and his vision, Gallup can break tackles and move the chains.
And while there is a lot of upside with Gallup, he has his flaws. His focus can be an issue, he needs to be more consistent on all plays. He could become better at fighting for 50/50 balls or getting to poorly thrown passes. He doesn’t have top-end speed. He will also have to be a quality run-blocker to play in the Cowboys offense. There is a reason Terrance Williams is consistently on the field for rushing plays.
But Gallup truly has a golden opportunity ahead of him. He is a rookie who could make a ton of noise in his debut year. The reason why is because Gallup will be getting first-team reps over the course of the next few months due to Williams nursing an injury as well as his on-going legal issue which could still attract the attention of the NFL front-office.
With this opportunity, the Cowboys will get to see how the rapport between Gallup and Dak Prescott is being built, as well as how quickly he can adapt to NFL coaching. Gallup has an opportunity to establish his talent and perhaps not give back to Williams his starting spot.
For the start of his NFL career, Dallas could use Gallup in a role similar to the one Williams had in 2013 during his rookie season. In that year, Dallas sprinkled Williams into their offense to not only get him accustomed to NFL playing experience, but also to put him in opportunities where he could take advantage of mismatches.
Its possible that’s how they will use Gallup in his initial season for the Cowboys. However, that is the floor of his potential usage. His ceiling would be as a starting receiver. Gallup likely offers more ability entering his rookie year than Williams did entering his first season.
It should come as no surprise if the Cowboys run the ball often and consistently in 2018. Knowing this, defenses will key in on stopping the run and force Dallas’ new receiving crew to beat them. This will give Gallup and the others plenty of opportunity for one-on-one coverage.
Expect for Gallup to be seasoned into the Cowboys’ offense in 2018. With his potential, he has the ability to consistently become a starter if he develops faster than the Cowboys expect. While there is talent for Gallup to become the franchise’s long-term No. 1 receiving option, in his initial year he will be working on establishing himself as a potential starter.