FRISCO, Texas – In terms of bringing in NFL pedigree, the Cowboys' most significant offseason addition was clearly defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. He's a multiple Pro Bowl and All Pro player. You could argue that he was the NFL's best defensive tackle of the last decade. Most importantly, he joined the team as a sure starter for a defense that needs to produce results.
So it goes without saying that McCoy rupturing his quadriceps tendon and subsequently being released from the team was a huge blow to the Cowboys' plans for this season.
But while Dallas won't get any production from McCoy, another thing future Hall of Famers can offer to a team is mentorship. According to rookie defensive tackle Neville Gallimore, McCoy still managed to provide him with plenty in their little time together.
"The amount he's helped me out in just a short amount of time, it was a great experience," Gallimore said.
Gallimore was drafted in the third round out of Oklahoma, where years earlier McCoy was arguably the best defensive tackle in the program's history. The connection was there between the two before either stepped on the field.
"He really took me under his wing. He reminded me to trust the process and not overthink too much," Gallimore said.
The night Gallimore was drafted he told the media that he considered himself an "unfinished product." The plan seemed simple enough: develop that product at a reasonable pace through the mentorship of players like McCoy, who could start in the meantime. The Cowboys are surely willing to stick to that plan, but in the wake of McCoy's departure, it would certainly be nice if the younger Oklahoma product could accelerate his development.
Still, Gallimore has a patient and self-aware mentality. He claims that McCoy and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula even have a word for him.
"They say I'm very conscientious," Gallimore says.
The rookie knows that he has to make sure he knows how to play in the NFL before he dominates it.
"One thing I learned just being here, you definitely pay for the little mistakes," he said. "You can't get away with the stuff you get away with in college. I love the process. It's been fun so far. I'm enjoying it. I'm seeing where I can improve, but I also see the results of when I do stuff right. It's about being consistent."
While he may have lost an on-field mentor in McCoy, Gallimore still has a veteran defensive lineman to seek advice from. He says fellow-Canadian Tyrone Crawford has been "kind of treating him like a little brother."
"Conscientious" may not be a word that draft experts use to break down prospects, but it sounds like Gallimore knows how to listen to the people who have been there before him, and he's setting a goal of being good before he can become great.
"(I'm) looking forward to playing ball and getting a taste of the NFL and, as things continue, making my mark," he said.