DALLAS – The Cowboys have the opportunity to put a formidable pass-rush from the edge on the field with guys like Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence, Dante Fowler, and even rookie Sam Williams this season. However, the interior of the Cowboys’ defensive line will be critical in at least maintaining their performance from last season, and one player in particular needs to elevate his game.

Neville Gallimore was taken by the Cowboys in the third round in 2020. After only 20 snaps in his first two games, and being inactive the next two weeks, Gallimore saw his chances increase. Over the final 12 games, Gallimore played at least 31 snaps in nine of them.

The best performance for Gallimore came in his second career start in a Week 9 game at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite the loss, Gallimore finished as one of the best interior defensive linemen for that week when it came to run defense grade, run stops, and run stop percentage according to Pro Football Focus.

Gallimore would have an overall up and down rookie campaign for the Cowboys logging 28 tackles and a half-sack. An expected second-year jump was on the horizon for Gallimore, but he suffered a dislocated elbow during the preseason. He was only expected to miss six to eight weeks but didn’t make his season debut until Week 14.

The former Oklahoma Sooner, surprisingly, didn’t show a lot of rust in his first few games back and registered 1.5 sacks which eclipsed his entire rookie campaign. Gallimore is now entering his third NFL season, and there’s no more time for potential, he has to take his play to a higher plateau.

Gallimore’s next step is being a more effective run stopper, and the Cowboys need it after struggling in that area a season ago. Gallimore has the quickness and power coming off of the line of scrimmage to help the Cowboys fix this issue, and if he can find a way to do a better job of shedding blocks and making plays, teams will have a harder time running the ball between the tackles.

In his first 19 career games with the Cowboys, Gallimore has only logged two sacks combined, so he’s no master when it comes to getting after the quarterback. However, adding another pass-rush move or two will help Gallimore get in the backfield quicker on passing downs, and quarterbacks hate getting pressured up the middle the most.

Gallimore also has another valuable skill in his toolbox, versatility. He can play the 3-tech or 1-tech. DeMarcus Lawrence can slide inside to play some 3-tech also, and Chauncey Golston will as well in 2022 after putting on 20 pounds. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn can get those guys in more packages rushing from the inside along with Gallimore with his ability to play multiple positions.

Of course, all these things coming to reality will depend on the health of Gallimore. If the injury gods do bless him, Gallimore has the skill set to take his game up a notch, and the Cowboys’ defense may take a step up as well from the improvement it made in 2021.

Feature image via Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports