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2018 NFL Draft Profile: Wide Receiver Michael Gallup

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Let’s take a look at one of the draft’s most polished small-school receiver prospects.

Colorado State v Minnesota Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Next in line for our wide receiver draft profiles is Colorado State product Michael Gallup.

As I discussed in my DJ Chark breakdown, the likelihood of Jon Robinson adding another wide receiver somewhere in the draft is fairly high.

So let’s meet Michael Gallup...

Player Profile

Michael Gallup, Wide Receiver, Colorado State, Senior

  • Height: 6-0 3/4
  • Weight: 205
  • Hand: 9 1/4
  • Arm: 31 1/2
  • Bench press: 10 reps

As you can see from his spider graph above (via mockdraftable.com), Gallup isn’t exactly an elite athlete. His 4.51 40-yard-dash is fine. His 6.95 3-cone is commendable. In the true tests of explosiveness, he did pretty darn well, posting a 36” vertical and 10’2” broad jump.

Michael Gallup doesn’t win with athleticism. He is a precise route-runner who understands the subtleties of gaining leverage, working angles, and hand-fighting in his route stem to create separation.

Background

Michael Gallup enters the NFL Draft as a senior. He spent just two years at Colorado State. Here’s some interesting background info from his NFL.com scouting report:

Only the SAT could keep Gallup from joining a major conference school once he was finished dominating athletics in Monroe, Georgia. He was one of five adopted children (seven total) at home, but stood out around town as a winner of 16 letters (football, baseball, basketball, track). At Butler Community College, Gallup excelled as a freshman (780 yards, 11 touchdowns) but was limited to four games (9 receptions, 74 yards, touchdown) due to injury the following year. That injury cost him some Power Five school offers, but CSU was happy to sign him.

The move paid off, as Gallup earned first-team All-Mountain West Conference accolades by catching 76 passes for a conference-high 1,272 yards and 14 scores, working cornerbacks on the sideline, speeding down seams, and going up for the ball with strong hands. He started 11 of 13 games played on the year, and finished the season with a six-catch, 108-yard, three-touchdown performance in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Sounds like the classic “had to work for everything I got” mentality and background that Jon Robinson especially covets in his players.

Film Study

Michael Gallup is one of the most polished receiver prospects in the 2018 class. Let’s review some of the areas where he wins by breaking down his strengths as a pass-catcher.

Route-Running

Gallup is a precise route-runner who creates separation out of his breaks. Behold examples.

On this first play, Gallup lines up off the line and makes like he’s going to run a shallow drag route against a cover-two zone.

Excellent route deception by Gallup to fool two defenders and get himself wide open in the end zone.

After drawing the attention of both underneath linebackers, Gallup breaks upfield, where he finds himself wide open in the end zone. He does a nice job of getting both feet down in-bounds for a touchdown.

Gallup excels at the art of route deception. His work in his route stems is consistent, making it difficult for defensive backs to predict when and to where the break is coming.

This next play is a great example of Gallup using route angles to create that deception and gain leverage. Just past the “50” on the field, Gallup takes a step slightly towards the sidelines before crossing the corners face on the deep post route.

Colorado State QB Nick Stevens costs Gallup a touchdown with this awful throw under pressure.

Unfortunately, the pass is way off target, but it’s a great downfield route by Gallup nonetheless.

The next play is an example of Gallup driving vertically upfield and staying low in his stem to sell the deep route before stopping suddenly, creating separation that allows this pass to be completed despite the very late throw.

This throw should be arriving as Gallup turns around. Instead, he waits a second for it to arrive but still makes the catch.

Gallup keeps his body between the ball and the defender to form a shield and make the contested catch.

One more example of Gallup selling a vertical route. In this play, the corner bites so hard on the deep play that he is still backpedaling as Gallup breaks outside. Granted it is zone coverage, but Gallup pressing upfield caused the corner to be extremely late breaking on the pass.

Where are you going, guy? The receiver’s in front of you, not behind you!

Route deception like this only works when the corners actually feel threatened by the deep ball.

While not a “burner” in the true sense of the word, Gallup is plenty effective as a downfield receiver due to his subtle use of route angles and ability to use the sideline to his advantage.

Could’ve been a 97-yard touchdown... smh.

In this play above, you can see Gallup has his man beat by a couple steps, but again the throw is way off target. Pay attention to the release off the line - Gallup jabs inside before exploding upfield, winning the leverage battle with the cornerback by keeping him on his inside hip and giving his quarterback the space outside to throw to.

Hand Technique

I want to show a few examples of Gallup’s incredible hand technique. I’m not talking about his hands catching the ball, I’m talking about being aggressive and violent with the use of his own hands and anticipating when to use them in order to counter contact initiated by a defensive back.

Receivers are taught if your route breaks in, use your inside arm to violently push the DB’s hand outside. In the next play, Gallup executes this perfectly, pushing the DB’s arm such that it turns his entire shoulder outside and gives Gallup inside leverage.

Textbook technique from Gallup here.

The throw is behind Gallup, but he does a nice job of adjusting to the ball without breaking stride and makes the contested catch through contact.

Conversely, when the receiver’s route is out-breaking, proper technique requires the use of the outside hand to push the corner’s arm away in the exact opposite manner, again with the intention of violently throwing the corner’s arm away such that it turns their shoulders.

Here’s an example of Gallup doing just that:

Nick Stevens left a lot of potential big plays for Gallup on the field.

If quarterback Nick Stevens hadn’t left a clean pocket to gain a solid two yards, he would’ve seen Gallup breaking wide open for what could’ve been an easy touchdown.

The next play is a different scenario - the corner attempts to jam Gallup as he’s making his inside break on this RPO (this is essentially the play the Titans ran on Marcus Mariota’s first career touchdown pass, but with a slant-flat concept instead of a double-slant).

Gallup is at the bottom of the screen. As the corner initiates contact to try and disrupt Gallup’s route, Gallup fights back, fending off the jam attempt with his outside arm, legally knocking the corners hands away to get open. This excellent and varied hand usage by Gallup shows up consistently on his tape.

One more example of hand technique, this time at the catch point. The Rams often used Gallup on fade routes at the goal line. Take a look at this next play - the defender engages, Gallup waits until the ball is arriving before shedding the corners hands with a swift downward swipe of his own arms,

Show me a 2018 receiver prospect with better hand technique, I’ll wait.

You can see Gallup push the corners arms down with his own hands before reaching up to make the catch. It doesn’t get more technically sound than that.

Physicality / Adjustments

Gallup plays with an aggressive physicality and rarely allows contact to disrupt his timing.

On this play, the corner attempts to shove Gallup off his route as he breaks inside, but Gallup absorbs the contact and is unaffected.

Gallup is a talented player.

The throw is behind, but just as in the clip against Alabama above, Gallup adjusts without breaking stride to make the contested catch through contact. This ability to consistently adjust to off-target throws while maintaining forward momentum is an advanced skill in Gallup’s repertoire.

Take a look at this next play, where Gallup makes a jaw-dropping adjustment on this deep pass and also shows off again his ability as a downfield threat despite lacking elite speed.

This is impressive ball-tracking ability.

Gallup looks faster than 4-51 on tape; he runs straight past his man here and, after gaining a two-step cushion, he has to slow down for the underthrown ball. Gallup makes adjusting to a poorly-thrown pass look extremely easy, effortlessly switching shoulders to come down with this huge 48-yard gain.

Another example of Gallup playing physical through the catch point. Exploding upward with his 36” vertical, Gallup high-points the football and comes down with a difficult contested catch.

I was surprised to see that this pass was actually ruled incomplete, which makes no sense to me.

This came against Alabama in a game where the Crimson Tide focused all their efforts on containing Michael Gallup. Alabama dominated overall in the game, but Gallup showed that he can compete with the big boys in this match-up, winning one-on-one’s like the two plays shown above and finishing with 5 catches for 81 yards.

Screens / YAC

Michael Gallup probably averaged between 4-5 screen targets per game at CSU. The Rams made a concerted effort to get the ball to their best player, and the screen game was an easy way to do that.

Here he is reading his blocks to take a tunnel screen 19 yards.

Gallup converts the 2nd-and-15 play into a first down.

Gallup has pretty decent open-field abilities. Here he is again selling a vertical route before stopping, creating enough separation to pick up a nice chunk of yards-after-catch on another late throw.

Gets upfield but protects the ball when he runs. This is sometimes a problem for wide receivers who don’t tuck the ball away, but it’s not an issue for Gallup.

Gallup showed off his YAC abilities in the Famous Idaho Bowl, the final game of his junior season in which he scored three touchdowns, including a 60-yard catch-and-run you can see by clicking here.

Here’s another example here of Gallup turning a 15-yard catch into a 60-yard touchdown.

Blocking

Gallup isn’t a particularly accomplished blocker, but he’s a decent and willing aggressor when called upon.

Here he is running downfield with a teammate, pushing a defensive back like a blocking sled.

And here’s an example of him engaging a defensive back on an outside zone carry and sustaining his block long enough for his teammate to get by him.

It’s tough to hold a block for this long.

Gallup is not a liability as a blocker, which is more than enough to succeed as a receiver at the NFL level.

Concerns

Michael Gallup is a very well-rounded prospect who leaves me with little concerns about his abilities to contribute at the next level.

The biggest concern is the level of competition. Coming from Colorado State in the Mountain West Conference, Gallup wasn’t a regularly featured part of Saturday television for college football fans most weeks.

I don’t know that Gallup will be a team’s coverage-dictating “#1” wide receiver, but I think he would make a great complement to any passing attack looking for versatile contributors.

Gallup set the single-season record at Colorado State for receptions last year. He largely dominated the small school competition, finishing 2017 with an NCAA 3rd-best 100 receptions for 1,413 yards (5th-best) and 7 touchdowns. His 76 catches in 2016 are 4th-most in school history for one season.

Gallup was a Consensus All-American in 2017, a two-time all-conference selection in 2016 and 2017, and a Biletnikoff Award finalist in 2017, awarded to the most outstanding receiver in college football (won by James Washington).

I don’t have a whole lot of concerns with Gallup’s skillset on the field. He probably won’t be a guy that can consistently beat double-coverage, but I expect him to be a productive receiver with his penchant for beating press coverage, creating separation in his route breaks, and reliable hands.

While proficient at making contested catches, Gallup doesn’t exhibit other-wordly Odell Beckham, Jr.-type hands (or even Corey Davis-level hands, for that matter). He’s not going to be making catches like the one Corey Davis made on the sideline against Oakland for his first career catch.

Nice job by Gallup to give himself a sideline cushion with his route angled outside, but he needs to explode up and attack the ball rather than wait for it to come to him.

Here, Gallup fails to attack the ball aggressively, instead waiting for it to come to him. If he was playing against single coverage, this might work, but the bracketed help from the safety over the top allows the defensive backs to break up the pass.

So while I like Gallup as one of the better receiver prospects in this class, I don’t think he will step in right away as a team’s go-to guy. It will take him time to learn to beat double coverage, if he ever does. But line him up across from a coverage-dictating player and Gallup should excel.

He reminds me a lot of Doug Baldwin, but with better size. I’ve also seen him compared to JuJu Smith-Schuster, Nelson Agholor, Anquan Boldin, and Pierre Garcon.

He’ll probably be an early Day 2 pick, but if manages to drop to the third round, he could be a guy the Titans look at as the long-term replacement to Rishard Matthews as the primary Z receiver when Matthews’ contract is up at the end of 2018.