Michael Gallup Ready to Make the Leap

The Dallas Cowboys have a star-studded offense headlined by lightning rod quarterback Dak Prescott, star wide receiver Amari Cooper, and arguably the league’s best running back in Ezekiel Elliott. Because of the big names, second-year wide receiver Michael Gallup is getting overlooked as a potential contributor. While he doesn’t have the same upside as Cooper, the Colorado State product is primed to take a second-year leap and develop into one of the better WR2’s in the league.

Michael Gallup Primed For a Year Two Leap

It’s hard to view Michael Gallup’s rookie season as anything other than a success. Appearing in all 16 games, the rookie finished the year with 33 receptions for 507 yards and two touchdowns. He finished eighth among rookie wide receivers in yardage and seventh in receptions. Gallup improved throughout the year, adding an additional eight receptions for 137 yards and touchdown in the playoffs.

As is the case with most rookie wide receivers, Gallup took a while to find his NFL footing. Stuck in an uncreative offense with a poor supporting cast, Gallup recorded just seven receptions for 109 yards through six games. Despite the underwhelming numbers, Gallup still managed to put together a few nice plays early in the season.

Gallup first broke out in Week Seven against the Washington Redskins. He finished the night with three receptions for 81 yards and a score, but most of that production came on one play. Dallas acquired Amari Cooper over their bye week and Gallup’s production rose with a legitimate WR1 opposite him.

Finally allowed to showcase his talent, Gallup recorded 23 receptions for 317 yards and one touchdown in nine games with Cooper. Gallup showed immense potential as a perimeter receiver, as Dak Prescott found great success targeting him on go routes and comebacks.

Gallup is fantastic at tracking the ball in the air and knows exactly where the sideline is and how much room he has. He excels at timing his jumps and catching the ball at its’ highest trajectory. Gallup’s also capable of getting open on his own but showed an impressive ability to catch tight passes and extend for the ball.

What to Work On

Michael Gallup needs to work on improving his overall route tree. The Cowboys used Gallup almost exclusively on the sideline, either running go routes or comeback routes. While there’s certainly a role for players like that, Gallup will need to add more to his arsenal if he’s to become a legitimate starter.

In fairness, the Cowboys started to expand Gallup’s route tree later in the season. After spending most of the season running up the sideline, Dallas started to use Gallup on inside slant routes in the final weeks of the season. He looked natural running those patterns, but he’ll need to build on that heading into 2019. It’s also fair to mention former offensive coordinator Scott Linehan ran one of the blandest schemes in the league. Thanks to that uncreative playcalling, Gallup never had the opportunity to run a full route tree. For all we know, Gallup could be a pretty decent route runner. Kellen Moore seems intent on opening up the playbook, and Gallup could be the primary beneficiary.

If Gallup can improve his route tree, then he should be able to improve his weekly consistency. As great as Gallup was down the stretch, he wasn’t a high-volume guy. Gallup only had one game with more than five receptions, and that was in the NFC Divisional Round. Non-elite outside receivers typically don’t accumulate receptions like Jarvis Landry or Julian Edelman, but the Cowboys clearly want to get Gallup more involved in the game. His 48.5% catch rate will need to improve, and that begins with improving his route running and separation skills.

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