The NFL Draft is nearly here. Soon we’ll have concrete takes on how these wide receivers project to the pro level, as we’ll know their landing spots and with that some clarity as to how they’ll fit with their new teams. Reception Perception is at its best when used to try to diagnose that fit.One player who I’m most excited to see land with his pro team is Colorado State receiver Michael Gallup. The senior wideout caught 176 passes and scored 21 times over the past two seasons but enters the coming NFL Draft as a likely second to third-day selection. After reviewing a handful of wide receivers in the 2018 class, he, Anthony Miller and DaeSean Hamilton are my favorite players beyond the obvious Day 1 candidates.

Unlike Hamilton and his precise route-running or Miller’s vertical dynamism from the slot, Gallup stands out in a class filled with mostly interior receivers. He comes with a potential trump card that could help him be one of the rare wideouts in this class who can thrive taking the vast majority of his routes outside.

Alignment & Target Data

Game sampled: Oregon State, Colorado, Alabama, Nevada, Wyoming, Boise State

In a class stock full of potential slot receivers, Michael Gallup’s experience playing both flanker and X-receiver is appealing. Gallup took 46 percent of his sampled snaps at right wide receiver and another 43.3 percent outside left. He was on the line of scrimmage for 57.8 percent of his snaps.

Colorado State flowed their passing offense through Gallup as his 1,418 receiving yards led the team by a gap of 823 yards. Gallup saw a target on 34.9 percent of his charted 212 routes. He was remarkably efficient for a vertical receiver, catching a pass on 22.2 percent of those patterns. You can chalk that up to the pair of vice grips Gallup has for hands. His 2.7 percent drop rate was bested only by D.J. Moore and Christian Kirk among prospects charted for Reception Perception.

Success Rate vs. Coverage

Michael Gallup isn’t an elite separator but he is a solid technician and shows an ability to run quality routes. His success rate vs. coverage scores were quite similar to Courtland Sutton’s results. Sutton is a possible first-round pick because of his overwhelming athletic abilities but Gallup looks like he’s ahead of the game as a technician. It’s worth wondering if Gallup is the arbitrage X-receiver in this class.

Gallup checked in with a 68.1 percent success rate vs. man coverage and 82.4 percent vs. zone. He tested at the 50th and 86th percentile, respectively. Gallup also tested at the 41st percentile in success rate vs. press (65.6 percent) but it’s worth noting he dealt with press more often than any other receiver in this class. His 93 attempts led the charted 2018 prospects by a wide gap.

Route Data

Reception Perception is best consumed when you spread out all the data points to observe the product as a whole. This is especially the case when using the route data to interpret success rate vs. coverage scores.

We once again see some striking similarities to Sutton here. Just like his SMU counterpart, Gallup was asked to run a high degree of vertical patterns. He ran the post (9.4 percent) corner (3.8 percent) and nine routes (19.8 percent) at rates in line with the average prospect.

Gallup’s other well-represented patterns were the out and flat. Those two out-breaking routes checked in at rates above the prospect average. The CSU product certainly wasn’t assigned many over-the-middle  “layup” routes in college.

Gallup showed strong success on the routes that he ran most often. Outside of the nine route, Gallup passed the test on deep patterns. He scored above average on the post, corner and out routes.

While he wasn’t asked to run as many curls or digs as other receivers in the class, Gallup posted excellent success rates at those branches of the route tree. His weakest routes were the slant (69 percent) and flat (73.3 percent).

So many of the receivers in the class will find homes in the slot at the next level and primarily function in the middle of the field. Gallup, on the other hand, is something of throwback receiver. He’ll work outside the numbers and work on throws that travel farther in the air. While that will make his margin for error slightly smaller on the stat sheet, it also makes him stand out in this deep class.

Contested Catch Rate & His Trump Card

While Michael Gallup may not compete for the elite separator title that several other players in this class wrestle for, he does come with a clear trump card. Gallup saw more contested catch attempts in this class with 20 (27 percent of his targets) and shined on his chances. His 80 percent contested catch conversion rate falls at the 90th percentile among prospects charted over the last three classes.

With how often he had to compete for the ball in the air and the degree to which he successfully snagged those passes, it’s fair to call this a trump card trait. Gallup is a chore to derail at the catch point. Not only does he have the strength to shield a defender from the ball, but his jump-timing and concentration are sublime. Gallup can be observed winning 50/50 balls throughout his game film but for some particularly superb examples, check out his game against Alabama. To really be impressed, dive into his outing against Nevada. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a college receiver thoroughly dominate an opponent like that over the last three classes.

Going Forward

Much like Courtland Sutton stands out in the pack of potential slot and flanker receivers who could go on Day 1, Michael Gallup is the arbitrage play on Sutton for teams targeting wideouts on Day 2. He shows passable separation ability to go along with a true trump card trait with how he wins the ball in contested situations.

Gallups’ gave me something of a poor man’s Michael Crabtree-vibe, which is a high compliment given how I’ve viewed Crabtree over the years. The last player who I compared to Crabtree was Michael Thomas back in 2016. Somewhere in this three degrees of Michael we see a path to an exciting career for Gallup. If he lands with the right team, he could earn a role early in his rookie season due to his ace in the hole hands and solid routes.

If your team is looking for a receiver outside of the first round and has a particular need on the perimeter, get excited if they target Michael Gallup. He has the skills to out-produce some of the players destined to go before him on draft day.
If you’re interested in more Reception Perception analysis, make sure to visit our Reception Perception pages for college prospect evaluations and pre-order The Ultimate Draft Kit at the early bird price for access to 50 NFL players’ full data this summer. You can keep up with all of the work using the #ReceptionPerception hashtag on Twitter.

Editor’s Note: Get full Reception Perception data and written evaluations by Matt Harmon on top 50 wide receivers for the 2018 NFL season in the 2018 Ultimate Draft Kit

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