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INDIANAPOLIS — The pressure of being highly touted and performing on the big stage is nothing new for Neville Gallimore.
Straight out of Ottawa, Ontario, Gallimore was a prep star coming from our neighbors to the north, ranking as the top high school football player in Canada before choosing the Oklahoma Sooners over more than 30 other offers, including Ohio State, Auburn, Florida State and USC.
He was even the first Canadian to compete in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, according to the Oklahoma athletics website.
"It was cool. It was a really good experience. It didn't really hit me until I've got a lot of people coming up to me telling me I was just that (the top Canadian recruit)," Gallimore told Colts.com on Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "The biggest thing for me was getting a scholarship and getting an opportunity to play Division I football because that was always a dream of mine."
Gallimore has a desire to continue learning, as he has already earned a bachelor's degree and is pursuing a master's. Studying his team's playbook and gameplans shouldn't be an issue there.
The redshirt senior sat out 2015 before becoming a starter in the second half of his debut season in 2016. From there, he started 38-of-52 career games (including four bowl games), missing three combined contests due to injury in 2017 and 2018.
The defensive tackle totaled 148 tackles (18 for loss), 9.0 sacks, five forced fumbles and two pass breakups. In his final season in 2019, Gallimore earned permanent Team Captain status and was named First-Team All-Big 12. He also earned an invitation to the Senior Bowl, where he impressed throughout the week of practice.
"It was a blessing. It was awesome," Gallimore said of being a team captain for the Sooners. "To go to your dream school, compete and be able to start and contribute, but then to have your teammates and coaches believe that you're one of the guys that they want to lead the team. It just goes back to the amount of work and the love that I have for this game and the love I have for this school. Again, you can't take that stuff for granted because I know there's a lot of guys that were worthy of being in that position. I was just blessed to be one of them."
This week at the NFL Scouting Combine, Gallimore measured in at 6-2 and 304 pounds with a wingspan of just over 6-5. It was an outstanding weigh-in for him considering what he already shows on tape.
Although he's 300 pounds, he can move like he's only 270 pounds, covering ground very quickly and moving with twitchy quickness unlike other men his size.
Gallimore initially gets the upper hand by showing a good burst off of the snap, taking no time to wind up and coming in firing.
As a defensive tackle, many are often power-based and lack pass-rush moves, but Gallimore is far from that. He has legitimate pass-rush moves, including a swim move, arm-under and a spin. He uses these moves without sacrificing momentum toward the backfield.
What's his go-to move on 3rd-and-long, though?
"Bob-and-swat," he says confidently.
Gallimore uses his hands well, being very active in that area when engaging with blockers.
He also knows how to attack the backfield from different paths. Like a running back, he will find a different lane to go through if the initial one is clogged up. Gallimore changes direction easily, and is very well experienced with the inside-to-outside stunt.
Seeing him get double-teamed and combo-blocked is commonplace, but he does attempt to wriggle his way through the blocks, and has really good balance to stay upright and not go down easily.
With his blend of size, speed and power, Gallimore can play nose tackle, three or five-technique in either three or four-man fronts.
"Different teams expect different responsibilities. But the biggest thing for me is that I'm versatile," Gallimore said. "I love this game; whatever position you want me to be, you expect to be at my best, and I'll do just that."
The big man gives high effort, has a nonstop motor and is a lot for offensive linemen to deal with. He plays to the whistle and will chase a quarterback across the backfield.
Those are the clear positives. But Gallimore is also well aware of a few items he wants to improve upon as he begins his professional career.
While he has plenty of moves to get past blockers as he approaches them, Gallimore doesn't always have the counter moves to get off of blocks. He can get stuck on blocks when approaching the blocker squarely if he doesn't set them up with any moves first.
"The biggest thing that I want is that a lot of the great D-linemen always had the ability to do both really well in terms of being stout at the point of attack and rushing the passer," Gallimore responded when asked what the common critiques are that teams have had for him. "So the biggest thing that they want to see more is just having the ability to consistently do both. Again, I'm willing to do just that, and whatever's asked of me to whatever team gives me that opportunity, I'm gonna sell out and give 'em my best."
FIT WITH THE COLTS
The state of the defensive line will always be a priority to Colts general manager Chris Ballard, who will be looking to add talent up front no matter how the unit performed the year prior.
"Our defensive line didn't play – I mean they played good last year. It wasn't bad, but I am always going to be obsessed with the front," Ballard told reporters at the Combine this week. "I mean I just believe that is how you win and have sustained success over time. I believe in building from inside-out. I've said that from the day I walked in this door and that philosophy won't change."
As Ballard mentioned, the Colts did get some quality play from their defensive line last year, but there is room for improvement. Particularly, they could use more production from the three-tech tackle spot that yielded just 3.5 sacks and five tackles for loss combined in 2019.
The three-tech spot can be considered the most critical in the Colts' defensive scheme, so the search for the perfect prospect will probably be something that is always active.
The Colts' defensive front is one that is meant to wreak havoc on offensive fronts with controlled chaos, as pressure up the middle is a game-wrecker for opposing offenses.
The Colts have also dealt with depth issues due to injuries to Tyquan Lewis and Denico Autry over the last couple years, making it difficult for the three-tech spot to really thrive.
Adding someone like Gallimore would give them someone thick and powerful enough to hold up against the run, but quick and athletic enough to make things difficult for opponents' pass protection.
After all, his best football may very well be ahead of him.
"The biggest thing for me is understanding that the game is just now starting to slow down for me. I feel like my ceiling is very, very high. I feel like my best football is still right there in front of me," Gallimore said. "Even for me, that still keeps that hunger and that fire. I'm still grinding and searching and trying to find my best ball out there. I feel like I still have an opportunity to take that step."