2020 Cowboys draft: Neville Gallimore, Bradlee Anae bring serious firepower to a beefed up Dallas defense


The buzz the Dallas Cowboys entered the 2020 NFL Draft with — on the heels of a mostly impressive first fray into free agency under head coach Mike McCarthy — is now equivalent to the crescendo of a locust plague. Their draft haul was one of the best in the league and is headlined by the wildly unexpected selection of wide receiver CeeDee Lamb with the 17th-overall pick, especially considering the Consensus All-American was not supposed to fall into their lap. He did though, and they didn’t look the gift horse in the mouth, adding him to an offense that is now designed to be one of the most prolific in the team’s storied history; assuming all goes according to plan. 

That said, they didn’t exactly wave off upgrading the defense, instead riding their wave of good fortune into selections that may not be as eye-popping as Lamb, but could end up being a big deal in the very near future. Not only were they able to secure First-Team All SEC cornerback Trevon Diggs with the 51st-overall pick, filling a dire need at cornerback in the process, they found themselves stuck between Diggs and Neville Gallimore — two players they graded much higher than a mid-second rounder.

They made the wise decision to grab Diggs and roll the dice on Gallimore, who was still there at No. 82, and then doubled down on the defensive line by reeling in Bradlee Anae in the fifth round. Anae, a pass rush terror out of Utah, also graded higher than his draft slot, and the addition of Gallimore and Anae adds to free agency signings like Dontari Poe, Gerald McCoy, and presumably the return of both Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory to the NFL to make for one of the more potent pass rush rotations around; when also factoring in the return of Tyrone Crawford and the presence of DeMarcus Lawrence. 

Time will tell if it all fleshes out for McCarthy and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, but they’ve given defensive line coach Jim Tomsula plenty of firepower to take into battle in the NFC East, and the two rookie defensive lineman have the ability to be nukes in their own right.

Neville Gallimore, iDL – Oklahoma

The former Oklahoma star has already spoken with McCoy, a fellow Sooner, but that’s not the only ties he has to the Cowboys. 

Gallimore trained at Baylor Scott and White Sports Performance Center at The Star just ahead of the 2020 draft, and when Jerry Jones gave him a call in the third round, he was literally sitting in Frisco, Texas. The Cowboys had early interest in getting Gallimore to Dallas — as evidenced in the multitude of meetings stemming back to the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine — and he had already begun to hope he’d end up with a Star on his helmet. 

“It definitely crossed my mind,” Gallimore said following the pick. “I definitely love the Dallas-Frisco area. I was telling my friends that, in the future, I would love to someday live out here.” 

Wish granted.

So what exactly are the Cowboys getting in Gallimore? Well, I’m glad you asked. Standing 6-foot-2 and weighing in at a monstrous 304 pounds, Gallimore is a chiseled specimen no offensive lineman looks forward to playing against. Having earned Second-Team All-Big 12 honors in 2019, he carried a high second-round grade on my big board, being an impact player who still needs just a bit of polish at the NFL level; but who is also ready to step in and make an impact on Day 1. His power and first step are as explosive as gunpowder, and he has a motor that lacks an OFF switch. 

The native of Canada plays through the whistle, and isn’t discouraged by double teams. And instances where the ball carrier does need to be dragged down from behind, Gallimore relishes the opportunity as much as he does taking down opposing quarterbacks and planting halfbacks like tent spikes at summer camp. 

“My ceiling is so high,” he said to Dallas media. “The best football hasn’t come out of me yet, but it’s coming, and it’s coming soon.”

Although he’s an interior lineman, Gallimore finished the 2019 season with 32 pressures and four sacks, a career-best in both categories, while also being proficient in forcing turnovers. To that point, he had four forced fumbles in his last two seasons, which is a perfect medicine for a Cowboys team starved for takeaways. Additionally, Gallimore has proven himself durable and exceptionally athletic, and not simply for his size — but for any size. He ran a 4.79 second 40-yard dash at the combine, a 77th-percentile sprint comparable to some tight ends, and it’s his combination of speed, power and drive that make him such a dangerous prospect for opposing teams.

He’s not the lengthiest lineman around, but doesn’t have to be. He’s stocky and built low to the ground, which allows him to sacrifice length for the ability to drive through and/or around his blocker. Gallimore has potential as an NFL starter, and should make for a dynamic tandem in rotation with Poe and McCoy — having the ability to disrupt at both the 1-tech (left of center) position or 3-tech (right of center). 

The Cowboys were looking for a dog, and found themselves a rabid doberman.

Bradlee Anae, EDGE – Utah

Whoa.

That’s the word that consistently popped in my head as I watched film on Anae, the former Ute having been a key reason his team fielded one of the best defenses in the country last season. Anae is far more refined than his draft slotting would suggest, and he doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. To be more accurate though, the Consensus All-American and two-time First-Team All-Pac 12 talent absolutely thrives on putting his hands on whoever has the ball in their hands. A winner of the Morris Trophy in 2019 — awarded annually to the best defensive lineman in the conference — Anae improved every single season in his four years at Utah, going from a freshman year with only two sacks, to seven as a sophomore, then 7.5 as a junior, before exploding with 13 as a senior. 

“I’m just a playmaker overall,” he said after his selection. “My strong suits would probably be my work ethic and my ability to make plays — be productive.”

Anae gets in the backfield early and he gets there often. The 6-foot-3, 257 pound edge rusher is a blue collar bully who wants to send a message with every snap of the football. He’s cerebral in how he attacks, and has the ability to both play downhill and back out in coverage to prevent space attacks by halfbacks and mobile quarterbacks. He can operate as both a 4-3 rusher off the edge or in a three-man front, which works masterfully for a Cowboys team looking to deploy 3-4 in real time to keep things unpredictable, while primarily remaining a four-down man defense.

His flexibility, fueled by his athleticism and high football IQ, makes him as potent as the hits he delivers.

Like Gallimore, Anae has a motor that just won’t quit. 

He would’ve been selected long before the fifth-round if not for an insanely deep prospect pool of wide receivers, and other factors that were out of his control during the draft. The Cowboys never suspected they’d have a chance at Anae without having to trade up to get him, but having done that to move back up into the fourth round to grab center Tyler Biadasz, they weren’t in position to pull that trigger again in such rapid succession. Instead, they were essentially forced to sit tight, but that worked out well for them in the first three rounds, and yet again in the fifth — as it relates to Anae still being available.

The team had its eye on other falling edge rushers like Curtis Weaver, but Anae is not a consolation prize. What the Cowboys will soon discover is he’s a ready-made starter at the NFL level, and one their opponents will loathe for many years to come. 





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