It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish. This old saying applied perfectly to Dallas Cowboys rookie wide receiver Michael Gallup in 2018. When Gallup was drafted by the Cowboys with the 81st pick in the 2018 draft, many believed he could make an instant impact in Dallas.
He even produced the highest rated performance grade in 2017 out of any receiver in his draft class via Pro Football Focus.
Michael Gallup produced the highest PFF grade of any wide receiver in this draft class in 2017 pic.twitter.com/LUCVbe4bOd— PFF (@PFF) April 11, 2018
Expectations were high for the rookie out of Colorado State, but he got off to a slow start. In his first six NFL games, Gallup was only able to produce seven catches for 109 yards. He also had a catch rate below 50% in his first six games, a factor in having one of the worst true catch rates in the NFL at season’s end.
WRs with the worst hands last season (50+ targets) per True Catch Rate:— Jody Smith (@JodySmithNFL) July 6, 2019
Gallup showed some signs in his first six games, including making a very impressive catch against Jacksonville while facing some tough coverage from A.J. Bouye.
You gotta love the development of Michael Gallup. pic.twitter.com/g1VFmVYBCL— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) October 17, 2018
In Week Seven against the Washington Redskins, Gallup transformed into a different player than we saw in the previous six games. In Washington, he made one of his biggest catches of the season, absolutely burning the corner on a double move for a 49-yard touchdown.
Gallup finished that game with three catches for 81 yards and the touchdown, and it seemed as if he finally had settled into being an NFL wide receiver. The next week, Dallas acquired star wideout Amari Cooper, helping Gallup lessen the load he had to carry in the offense.
After the Cooper acquisition, Gallup had a very solid season. In the final nine weeks of the season, he registered 23 catches for 317 yards. With Cooper opposite him on the outside, he was able to see more one-on-one coverage and showed off his ability to beat the defense deep.
Many times Gallup was able to beat his defender deep but just was not able to connect with quarterback Dak Prescott, shown perfectly in the play below.
Michael Gallup smoked Eli Apple here. Dak overthrew him. pic.twitter.com/NHCAV3GPp9— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) November 30, 2018
Here is another example of Gallup burning the corner deep in the same game against the New Orleans Saints.
Michael Gallup cannot be stopped pic.twitter.com/Cb3gyv8G5j— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) November 30, 2018
Gallup saved his best for last in the 2018 season, against the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round of the playoffs he caught six passes for 119 yards. He made a great play in the middle of the third quarter to break loose on a broken play and get Dallas down inside the five-yard line.
Gallup came on very strong as he settled into the Cowboys offense, and he is primed to have a breakout season in 2019. With Cooper, Cobb, and Elliott garnering most of the attention from opposing defenses, Gallup has a great chance to be the forgotten man that has an outstanding year.
If teams want to double Cooper and make sure he is not the guy that beats them, that will open up plenty of opportunities for Gallup down the field. In his rookie year, he and Dak Prescott were not firing on all cylinders, but after another offseason of work, they should connect better this season.
Michael Gallup showed his potential in the second half of 2018, and he will only get better the more he learns in the Dallas’ offense. Look for big things from the second-year wideout in 2019.