Bigger Is Better For Galeai

The Green Bay Packers signed only seven undrafted players this year, and to be honest, none of them looks all that intriguing. Fortunately, there’s an undrafted free agent from a year ago who just might be ready to step up and earn playing time this season. His name is Tipa Galeai, a defensive end in college who took all of his snaps at outside linebacker last summer.

The former Utah State star showed enough during camp to get called up to the active roster for the opener against Minnesota. He played nine snaps before returning to the practice squad, where he spent the rest of the season. And while Galeai (#50) didn’t show up on the stat sheet, he did get QB Kurt Cousins’ attention.

 

But you need to go back to his college tape to get a true feel for Galeai. The first thing you notice is his athletic ability. He doesn’t move like somebody who’s 6-foot-5. Watch what happens after Galeai (#10) intercepts a pass against BYU. Heck, some of Green Bay’s jumbo-sized receivers might be All-Pros if they moved this fluidly in the open field.

 

Galeai wasn’t physically ready to contribute in 2020. At 235 pounds, he was too small to hold up against the run in the NFL. This wasn’t a strength of his in college, and most of the opponents he faced weren’t going to be playing on Sundays. But even with an additional 10 to 15 pounds, I have doubts about whether Galeai will ever be a full-time player at this level. That said, I have much fewer doubts about his ability to be a very useful situational pass rusher.


But even if used strictly on passing downs, Galeai still needed to spend the past 12 months getting bigger and stronger. In college, he struggled to beat tackles with above-average size and ability. Watch how ineffective he is against 325-pound Austin Deculus of Louisiana State. Sure, a similarly built Jason Taylor had over 130 sacks with the Miami Dolphins en route to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he had unique physical skills. Most undersized rushers aren’t going to have much success against talented opponents who outweigh them by almost one Ariana Grande.

 

 

While Galeai doesn’t have the rare physical gifts of a Hall of Famer, he does possess an NFL-caliber skill set when it comes to getting after the quarterback. He shows good initial quickness at the snap. He’s also a quick-twitch athlete with the short-area burst, acceleration and top-end speed to fly off the edge. His closing burst is also very impressive. Many of these traits were exhibited in games against Michigan State and Wyoming from the 2018 season.

 

 

So why did a player with natural pass-rush skills go undrafted? There were multiple reasons. First and foremost, he wasn’t as good in 2019 as he was in 2018. Part of that was due to being used in coverage more often, and part of it was due to opponents doing a better job of preparing. Another reason was the assault charge from 2017 that caused him to be kicked out of TCU and kept him from getting an invitation to the Combine. And while punching a couple of people is certainly troubling, from all accounts, Galeai was a model citizen in his two seasons at Utah State.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Galeai this summer. Assuming he’s bigger and stronger than a year ago, there’s no reason why he can’t earn a place on the final roster. Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Rashan Gary are locked into spots, but neither Randy Ramsey nor Jonathan Garvin showed much in limited snaps last season. And since no outside linebackers were added in the draft, the door is open for Galeai to secure the No. 4 job.

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Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for over 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2004. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey and covered the Philadelphia Eagles for WTXF-TV. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published, and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.
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