Micheal Gallup is something special. The Dallas Cowboys made out like bandits when they picked him with the 81st overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He was the ninth receiver selected in the draft that year, but after two seasons he’s proven himself to be one of the better receivers from his draft class. Only the top three receivers selected that year: D.J. Moore (24th overall), Calvin Ridley (26th), and Courtland Sutton (40th) have more receiving yards than Gallup over this first two years in the league. That has to feel pretty good.
Gallup has shown growth as a young receiver going from 33 catches for 507 yards his rookie season to 66 catches for 1,107 yards this year. Not only does he compare favorably to the top receivers from his draft class, but his progress holds up pretty well when compared to a couple of the Cowboys true receiving greats over the last 20 years.
It took Michael Irvin until his fourth season before he reached his first 1,000 yard season.
Gallup’s playmaking ability was on full display this season. With some amazing body contortions to come down with contested passes and some impressive agility to will his way into the end zone, the Cowboys young receiver filled up the highlight reel this season. The rapport with Dak Prescott continues to improve as many of the off-target connections from a year ago turned into big plays this season. The trust Prescott has gained for Gallup showed itself as the former Colorado State receiver had 113 targets this year. That’s only six fewer than Amari Cooper.
With such a big season from Gallup, some are wondering if it would still be wise to pony up the cash for Cooper. When the Cowboys traded away a first-round draft pick to acquire Cooper in the middle of the 2018 season, it seemed pretty clear that they had already made up their mind to sign him long term, but has anything changed to make them reconsider?
Sure, there have been moments in Cooper’s career where he seems to disappear. When it was happening in Oakland, we just attributed this to him being misused. When it happened in Dallas, we tend to blame it on his health. All these things will be evaluated when it comes to what kind of price tag Cooper will demand this offseason.
Responsible spending is crucial for this team if they want to remain competitive, so it’s understandable to think outside the box and explore the best uses of their funds. Cooper’s asking price is nothing to take lightly. It’s a big investment.
While it’s easy to be enamored by Gallup’s uptick in production, you can’t dismiss just how valuable it was to have one of the games more efficient route-runners on the roster. Cooper commands so much attention from the defense as he changes the way secondary handles their coverage responsibilities. Having Cooper on the field opens things up for everyone else and is a big reason why Gallup had so much space to roam this year. While it’s nice to ponder if Gallup is in the beginning of what could be a special career, let’s not cast a blind eye towards the fact that Cooper is in the midst of something pretty impressive himself.
Cooper has been in the league five years and he’s already eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark four times. That’s already more than Dez Bryant had his entire career. Amari Cooper is just 25 years old.
Should we be excited about the emergence of Gallup? Absolutely. But rather than considering moving away from Cooper, let’s stockpile this great receiving talent as the team works towards building an arsenal of weapons around the young Prescott.