The 2018 NFL Draft ended on Saturday, but we are not done reviewing the draft just yet! In the coming days, BTB will release film reviews on each player drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. This article will feature third-round selection Michael Gallup out of Colorado State.
The Dallas Cowboys entered the 2018 NFL Draft with a lot of uncertainty at the wide receiver position. It only magnified when reports came out prior to Thursday’s second- and third rounds that Jason Witten would be retiring to pursue a career as a commentator. Needless to say, the Cowboys needed to spend a pick on a prospect that would be able to come in right away and battle for playing time.
It appears the Cowboys were successful in doing so. After seeing Connor Williams fall right into their lap at 50, Dallas then went ahead and grabbed their newest weapon for the offense with pick 81: Michael Gallup from the Colorado State Rams.
Gallup, a 2017 finalist for the Bilentikoff Award, given to college football’s best wide receiver, began his career in the JUCO ranks before working his way up to an All-American wide receiver and third-round NFL Draft pick to America’s Team.
Let’s look at three aspects of Gallup’s game that will give him a chance to be successful on the NFL level.
It is hard to find a better route runner in this draft class than Michael Gallup. Calvin Ridley and D.J. Moore are probably at the top of the list, but after that? Gallup is as good as any. His ability to run routes made him a valuable prospect and gives him a ton of upside as he transitions to the NFL level.
In this video below, Michael Gallup and Colorado State are playing against Josh Allen’s Wyoming team on the road. Gallup runs a post route against Wyoming, who are playing man-to-man coverage. His quick release gives him an advantage versus an uncertain defensive back. He ends the play by catching a pass thrown slightly behind him in traffic.
Here is another angle of the same play. Gallup gives a slight move to the outside that forces the defensive back to hesitate for just a split-second. That moment allows Gallup to gain leverage on the route, creating the needed separation for the quarterback to make the throw. Also, it’s a plus that he can make a tough, contested catch in traffic without relying on his body.
In this next clip, Gallup is facing a zone-look from the Idaho Vandals’ defense. He lines up out wide on the bottom of the screen, but his route takes him inside. Gallup breaks off the route and is as wide open as you can get in the end zone.
This angle shows how Gallup gives the linebacker in coverage a slight hesitation move before breaking off the route and heading into the end zone. As a result, the defender freezes and allows the new Cowboys receiver an open path for an easy six.
If you have time to spare, Matt Waldman of RSP provides an 8-minute breakdown of this specific play:
This touchdown reception by Colorado State’s Michael Gallup is not a physically demanding route, but there’s a lot happening below the surface that requires Gallup and his quarterback to read the same things about the defense and process that information in conjunction with what their teammates’ assignments to create a big-play solution within the span of seconds pre- and post-snap.
Then against Alabama, Gallup shows off his hands and route-running against a well-coached secondary. He is lined up against Levi Wallace, who is playing press man-to-man coverage. Gallup is able to beat the All-SEC defender and come down with the catch.
To give context, Gallup had run go-routes a few times earlier in the game. So this time, Gallup fakes a go-route and then cuts inside, again giving him leverage on his defender. A coach from Wyoming said that Gallup was the only player on Colorado State’s team that “looked like he belonged” on the field versus Alabama. In fact, Gallup recorded more receiving yards against Alabama than any other receiver the Tide played against in 2017.
Michael Gallup was a Biletnikoff Award finalist. He was a 2nd team All American at Colorado St. 1,413 yards and 7 TD last year. His 81 yards were the most against Alabama last year. #NFLDraft @BlueStarBlog— Newy Scruggs (@newyscruggs) April 28, 2018
Another aspect that is attractive about Gallup’s game is his ability to not only complete a catch, but to make a move afterwards and get downfield. Whether it is him using his speed to get by the defense or by using his strength to break a tackle.
The Cowboys draft Dez Bryant's potential replacement in Michael Gallup, the 49th-ranked player on the PFF Big Board pic.twitter.com/MPYyxC7T2f— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 28, 2018
In this first clip, Alabama’s Anthony Averett blitzes off of the edge which allows Gallup to get a free release. As a result, Gallup is wide open for an easy catch-and-run. Ronnie Harrison, a third-round selection by the Jacksonville Jaguars, comes down from the safety position, but Gallup breaks the tackle and keeps his balance as he picks up an additional ten yards.
Against the New Mexico Lobos, Gallup again gets a free release, allowing his quarterback to find him for an easy catch-and-run. Gallup immediately turns up field, makes a slight move on the defensive back, and gets the first down and more.
This next clip shows Gallup breaking off a simple WR screen play for a 35-yard touchdown against the San Diego State Aztecs. The Georgia native puts his playmaking skills to display as he finds the end zone.
And if that isn’t enough for you, Gallup runs to the middle of the field, catches the ball, and then proceeds to stiff arm a defensive back and break two tackles on an incredible play that resulted in a 60-yard score,
Here’s one more play to show just how dangerous Michael Gallup is after the catch — a trait that all of the special wide receivers possess.
The new Dallas Cowboys wide receiver knows how to make people miss! pic.twitter.com/VeEWtoqLYL— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 28, 2018
3. Tough/contested catches
Yet another part of Gallup’s game to love is his ability to make tough, contested grabs. Whether that be in traffic or making an acrobatic play, it is fun to watch the 81st pick of the draft make a play for the ball. Just check these clips out and you will get the picture.
Gallup runs a deep route against the Oregon State Beavers and beats his man downfield. Gallup adjusts to the ball over his shoulder and hauls in a challenging grab.
Another look at the grab:
Here, Gallup beats the Idaho defender for one of his three touchdowns of the night.
On this look, you can see the former Colorado State star hesitate for a moment before running his route, forcing the defender to be uncertain about what to do. Then, Gallup uses size to his advantage.
And how can you forget this ridiculous grab against the Marshall Herd in his final collegiate game? This is impressive.
While many were originally upset when the Cowboys passed on Ridley and Moore at 19, the Cowboys got excellent value by taking Gallup with the 81st pick of the draft. PFF’s 49th best player brings a great combination of route-running and playmaking to Dallas — something that has a chance to greatly improve the Cowboys’ attack as soon as this upcoming season.
The Cowboys are getting a complete wide receiver in Michael Gallup with tons of upside. The 6-foot-1 wideout will not only have a chance to get snaps in 2018, but he has a chance to become a go-to threat for Dak Prescott.
Games watched: Wyoming (2017), Idaho (2016), Alabama (2017), New Mexico (2017), San Diego State (2017), Air Force (2017), Oregon State (2017)