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

April 25, 2004

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 postplay 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. --P.K.

COLOR PHOTO: MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY
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