The Saskatchewan Roughriders took a calculated gamble by selecting Canadian defensive lineman Neville Gallimore in the 2020 CFL draft.

Gallimore was chosen in the third round, 82nd overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL draft. Even though the 23-year-old was a mid-round NFL pick, Riders’ head coach Craig Dickenson believes the value was there to select him in the eighth round, 71st overall.

“The reality is if we’d have been picking earlier in the eighth round we may not have gone that way. But the fact is the guys that we had on our board that were still available, we felt like if we didn’t get them with the draft choice, because we were the third to last pick of the draft, that we could sign them in the extra period where you can sign two extra free agents at the end,” Dickenson said on the Growing the Game with Ballsy podcast.

“Looking at it that way, we felt like whether we see him or not, the reality is these guys that we wanted to pick in the eighth, we could probably add as free agents. And so we just took a flier on him, if for some reason it doesn’t work out for him and he wants to come back up, that’s a guy that can step in right away and be a starter. And to get him for an eighth round pick we felt was worth the risk to do it.”

The University of Oklahoma product posted elite numbers at the NFL combine, 23 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press while completing the 40-yard dash in 4.79 seconds. That’s serious speed for a lineman who measures in at six-foot-two and 305 pounds.

The Ottawa native became a full-time starter with the Sooners in his junior year and produced 79 tackles with seven sacks over the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He also forced five fumbles and knocked down two passes during his NCAA career, wreaking havoc along the line of scrimmage.

It’s the second national defensive lineman who was selected in the NFL draft the green and white have taken a chance on recently, the other was David Onyemata. The New Orleans Saints traded up to select him in the fourth round, 120th overall during the 2016 NFL draft. Saskatchewan owns Onyemata’s CFL rights by selecting him in the fourth round, 35th overall during the CFL draft the same year.

Onyemata signed a three-year contract extension worth up to $27 million in March which included a $10 million signing bonus. That makes it highly likely the Riders will never see Onyemata in Canada. However, choosing Gallimore later than Chris Jones selected Onyemata makes a smaller investment worth rolling the dice for a potential big time pay off.

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