The Dallas Cowboys suffered a serious blow to their defensive line after Gerald McCoy reportedly suffered a torn quad tendon, with the injury ending his season before it really began. Now, it’s time for two younger players in defensive linemen Neville Gallimore and Trysten Hill to try and step up.

Gallimore and Hill bring different skills to the table, and although losing a key free agent to injury like McCoy hurts, the two young defensive linemen should be able to contribute in different ways

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Can Neville Gallimore start as a rookie?

Although undersized for the defensive tackle position, former Oklahoma Sooner Neville Gallimore was considered one of the most exciting defensive lineman prospects in the 2020 NFL draft. Now, with Gerald McCoy’s season-ending injury, the third-round pick may be thrust into the starting lineup sooner than later.

With a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 7.11, Gallimore made up for his undersized frame at just 6’2″ and 304 pounds with strong speed and explosiveness scores. Where Gallimore won at the college level was disrupting the backfield as a one-gap player by exploding off of the line and consistently winning leverage battles with blockers thanks to low pad level.

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Given his success as a one-gap player, Gallimore could be a logical replacement for McCoy, who found a lot of success penetrating backfields with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, there could be concerns about Gallimore having to play farther away from the ball as a three-technique lineman.

There’s also the matter of learning an entire NFL playbook with just a few weeks of in-person practices. While it may take him some time to get more comfortable in the Cowboys defense, the injury to McCoy means that he’s going to be getting snaps right away, even if he’s not the starter by the end of training camp.

Will Trysten Hill improve off a disappointing 2019 season?

As the second-round pick for the Cowboys in 2019 out of Central Florida, Trysten Hill was expected to make an impact quickly in his rookie season. Instead, the young defensive lineman was one of the biggest disappointments of the season, rarely seeing the field and being listed as a healthy inactive for multiple games.

Hill finished the season with just five total tackles, struggling to find a reliable role on a talented Cowboys defensive line. Things may have looked bleak for Hill heading into this year’s training camp, but McCoy’s injury opens up an opportunity for Hill to compete for a starting role.

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While at UCF, Hill was able to showcase both explosiveness and effort, and that showed on the film when NFL scouts watched him. However, what also showed up on film was a player who didn’t have a plan of attack more often than not with both his hand usage and pass-rush moves.

A full offseason could have been exactly what Hill needed to get comfortable with an NFL defense, but trust will be an important factor for Hill to see playing time. Impressing new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will be important in establishing that trust early on, and if he can do that, Hill may get an opportunity to see more of the field in 2020.

The defensive line is still in good shape

The likely scenario we will see is a consistent rotation of both Gallimore and Hill trying to replace Gerald McCoy after his injury. Fortunately, even without McCoy, the defensive line for the Cowboys is still going to be one of the more formidable units in the league.

Both Everson Griffen and Dontari Poe are strong offseason additions to the defensive line, joining one of the most intimidating pass rushers in the league in Demarcus Lawrence. Those three, along with other names like Tyrone Crawford and Antwaun Woods, should take a lot of pressure off of Gallimore and Hill, allowing them to focus on doing their jobs instead of trying to do too much.

Losing such an impact player like McCoy is difficult, but luckily for the Cowboys, they have a pair of young players who could step up and play a big role on defense.