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Analyst sees Oklahoma Sooner as possible first-rounder
INDIANAPOLIS — Neville Gallimore, the top Canadian NFL draft prospect in nearly a decade, is “going to jump out of the gym” this week at the league’s Scouting Combine.
So says NFL Network’s chief draft analyst, Daniel Jeremiah.
The primary purpose of the combine – which began Monday and concludes Sunday — is to allow hundreds of NFL coaches, GMs, scouts and doctors to collectively test, try out, time, greet, grill, poke, prod, X-ray, examine, inspect, reject, summarize, scrutinize, psychoanalyze and better familiarize themselves with 338 of the top college prospects leading up to the league’s entry draft, April 23-25 in Las Vegas.
Gallimore and Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool of Abbotsford, B.C., so far are seen as the only Canadians likely to be picked. Numerous other Canadian prospects who played college ball either in the U.S. or Canada are candidates to either sign free-agent deals immediately following the draft, or at least get an invitation to try out at an NFL team’s May rookie mini-camp.
“Wait until you see this guy test,” Jeremiah said of Gallimore, the Ottawa-born, St. Catharines-prepped Oklahoma Sooners defensive tackle.
“He’s a fascinating story, growing up in Canada. The kid was dunking at the age of 13. He’ll put on a show at the combine. He’s going to run really fast. He’s going to jump out of the gym.”
The CFL Scouting Bureau rates Gallimore as the No. 1 prospect for May’s CFL draft. But there’s no way the 23-year-old won’t first attempt to ply his trade south of the border in the NFL, where a multi-million-dollar rookie contract surely awaits. If he winds up going off the board before the third round, as forecast, Gallimore would become the highest-selected Canadian to be taken in the NFL Draft since the Philadelphia Eagles picked guard Danny Watkins 23rd overall in the first round in 2011.
Only three other Canadians since 2006 have been picked in the first three rounds: OL Orlando Franklin (Denver, Round 2, 2011), DE Tyrone Crawford (Dallas, Round 3, 2012) and DT Nathan Shepherd (New York Jets, Round 3, 2018).
Jeremiah has Gallimore rated 37 th overall. There are 32 first-round selections.
“I have him outside the first round,” Jeremiah said last Friday on a conference call with reporters. “But as I mentioned, he’s going to test incredibly well and that will generate some buzz, and potentially get him in that (first-round) discussion.
“I did not think he played to the consistency of a first-round pick. But the upside and athleticism, again, it’s off the charts. So it’s all there, the potential for him to be a first-round pick.”
Gallimore was born in Ottawa and raised there by immigrant parents of Jamaican descent. He played football there both in high school — in Grades 9 and 10 at St. Patrick’s High — and for two youth programs, the Canterbury Mustangs and Cumberland Panthers.
Gallimore played his final two years of high school (2013 and 2014) at the newly instituted Canadian Prep Football Academy in St. Catharines, near Niagara Falls. The CPFA Raiders play only four-down football in exhibition games against U.S. high schools, primarily in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Gallimore sparkled in those encounters against American counterparts in fall 2014, enough to become a consensus four-star U.S. college prospect and earn full-ride scholarship offers from 30 prominent NCAA programs, including Oklahoma, Ohio State, USC, Notre Dame and Florida State.
Gallimore became the first Canadian invited to compete in the post-season U.S. Army All-American Bowl for top high-school prospects.
In January 2015 he announced his decision to throw in with the Oklahoma Sooners live on NBC, during a break in play.
Gallimore redshirted in Norman in 2015 before starting most of OU’s games at D-tackle over the past four seasons. His teammates have included the likes of quarterbacks Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts.
Gallimore blossomed as a regular starter over the past two seasons. In being named a first-team all-Big 12 selection this past fall he registered a career-best 7.5 tackles-for-loss, including four sacks.
Gallimore stands 6-foot-2 and typically weighs a tick over 300 pounds. At CPFA in St. Catharines he weighed about the same, and once he ran a 4.72-second 40-yard dash. That’s insanely fast for anyone of that size.
Few of the 46 defensive linemen here will run that fast. Ditto with any 300-pounders.
Gallimore begins his combine process on Wednesday, with body measurements, medicals and brief meet-and-greet sessions with teams. He’ll talk with reporters Thursday morning along with all other defensive linemen and linebackers, then will be tested and worked out on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday.
It’s not just Jeremiah who’s high on Gallimore. The dean of TV draft analysts, ESPN’s Mel Kiper, last week told Postmedia on a conference call that Gallimore, because of his strength, “was a guy that I thought really popped in some games” last fall.
“I mean, he really impressed me. So I would think second round for Gallimore,” Kiper said. “That’s a pretty good defensive tackle group, from a second- and third-round area.”
Abbotsford’s Claypool seen as Round 3-4 pick
It’s Chase Claypool’s bad fortune that this year’s group of wide receiver prospects might be the deepest and most talented in NFL Draft history.
The former University of Notre Dame star from Abbotsford, B.C., is consistently receiving third- and fourth-round grades from top evaluators at this stage of the pre-draft process.
“I think there could be 25 receivers (selected) in the first 3½ rounds,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper told Postmedia last week on a conference call with reporters. “Maybe 18-20 in the first couple (rounds). So this may be historic. I could see eight receivers go in the second round. Maybe five in the first, and eight in the second.”
Claypool is a huge-bodied wideout, listed by Notre Dame last fall as 6-foot-4 3/8 and 229 pounds. He led the Fighting Irish in 2019 with 66 receptions for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns, and his 150 career catches rank him seventh in Notre Dame history.
He played his high school ball at Abbotsford Senior Secondary School.
“Claypool is another one of these receivers that is just so big and strong and physical,” NFL Network’s top draft analyst, Daniel Jeremiah, said. “He’s a 50/50 ball guy. That’s his specialty.
“He’s another one who is a gunner on punt (coverage). He’s very tough, very aggressive, can really, really wall guys off in the red zone. He’s a threat down there.
“He’s just not a full route-tree player. In other words, he’s not going to be efficient running every route that you would have in your playbook. And that’s going to take a little bit more time for him to develop … In this year’s draft he’s probably in the third-, fourth-round range, because of just the sheer depth in the class.”
Said Kiper: “How does he test with his size? (That) will be important.”
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