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Peter King
April 26, 2004
Iowa's Robert Gallery, an old-school tackle with All-Pro potential, is the best lineman to come out of college in years
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April 26, 2004

In A League Of His Own

Iowa's Robert Gallery, an old-school tackle with All-Pro potential, is the best lineman to come out of college in years

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Except for the shoulder-length hair and the two small hoop rings that he wears on each ear, Iowa tackle Robert Gallery has all the makings of a throwback to the old NFL. He grew up on a 650-acre soybean and seed-corn farm outside Masonville, Iowa, working the fields from the time he was seven. "When you're raised like that," he says, "hard work's your living." He drives a brown 1984 Buick LeSabre Limited with some 126,00 miles on it. "Great car," he says. "It's me. I want to drive it till it dies." He latches on to the player he's blocking and pushes the guy downfield, often flattening him. And Gallery's not afraid to give his beaten defender a post-play jab in the gut, either.

"Whoever drafts him is going to get a 15-year Pro Bowl player," says Washington Redskins offensive line coach Joe Bugel. "I can't find anything wrong with him." In a draft top-heavy with players who should have immediate impact in the NFL, there's no surer thing than the 6'7", 323-pound Gallery—the Outland Trophy winner who might be the best all-around tackle to enter the pros since the Jacksonville Jaguars took Tony Boselli with the second pick in 1995. Gallery is certain to be drafted no later than fourth this Saturday, but with the New York Giants (selecting fourth), the Redskins (fifth) and the Cleveland Browns (seventh) all coveting him, and the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders listening to offers for the No. 1 and No. 2 picks, respectively, which team gets Gallery is anyone's guess.

That club will get a feisty, technically sound worker bee with tremendous strength. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, who as a Baltimore Ravens assistant was All-Pro left tackle Jonathan Ogden's first NFL position coach, says Gallery compares more favorably with Boselli, the five-time Pro Bowl selection who retired last year because of a chronic shoulder injury, than with Ogden. "I don't know of any tackle who is as smooth and athletic and strong as Jonathan," says Ferentz. "Robert and Tony are more physical, more emotional, and they dominate like Jonathan."

In fact, Gallery may be more emotional than even Boselli. Last November, with the Hawkeyes trailing Wisconsin 21-17 at halftime, Gallery stormed to the center of the locker room, picked up a trash can and heaved it across the room and against a wall. "I'm not leaving here with a loss!" he screamed. "Who's coming with me?" The Hawkeyes shut out the Badgers in the second half and won 27-21.

Fittingly, Gallery is a fan of classic linemen. He has studied tape of the Redskins' famous Hogs line of the 1980s and was thrilled to learn during an early April visit to Washington that Bugel and coach Joe Gibbs hoped to draft him. "He would have fit in great with the Hogs," Bugel says. "He's a dominator. He's got some dirtbag in him. He'll drink a beer with you. When we talked, I told him, 'You're our kind of people.' "

Gallery will fit in on any team. On Saturday we'll know which one.