Gallery looks part of big-time player

Iowa standout OT Robert Gallery turned heads and dropped jaws by simply walking around the combine.

Updated: February 21, 2004, 2:40 AM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- There is a reason that football jargon includes the term "eyeball test," scout-ese for essentially meaning that a player looks good at first glance and basically passes muster simply walking into a room.

Gallery diary
Robert Gallery
Gallery
Former Iowa offensive tackle Robert Gallery will be doing a draft diary for ESPN.com between now and the NFL draft (April 24-25). Check out the first installment to find out what Robert has been doing since his college career ended (building snowmen) to get ready for the draft.
One of the latter-day reasons for the hackneyed term, Iowa offensive tackle Robert Gallery, certainly passed the "eyeball test" on Thursday afternoon here. Regarded by most league scouts as the premier offensive line prospect in the 2004 draft, Gallery turned heads and dropped jaws by doing little more than walking through the halls of the convention center that is adjacent to the RCA Dome. If a player could qualify for rookie of the year just by looking the part, Gallery might be the guy.

"If you entered all the (components) into the computer, and it spit out the model of what an NFL offensive left tackle is supposed to look like, it would be that guy right there," said Buffalo Bills offensive line coach Jim McNally, nodding in Gallery's direction. "He sure looks like a player, doesn't he?"

Looks can be deceiving, of course, in all walks of life. But the massive Gallery, 6-feet-7 and about 317 pounds, is a prospect who figures to back up appearance with performance. The early guesstimates are that he will be a top-five selection in two months and will then become a multiple-appearance Pro Bowl performer. Under the stewardship of head coach Kirk Ferentz, a former NFL line mentor, Iowa has sent some terrific blockers to the pro ranks the last few years, but Gallery is likely the pick of the litter.

OK, so maybe he needs to get his long locks shorn, something he hasn't done in about two years now. Once some NFL defensive end grabs his long hair and swings him around for the first time, Gallery won't have any choice but to visit a barber. But short of the long hair, there isn't much about Gallery that scouts don't admire.

He has the long arms and quick feet demanded by the blindside blocker's position. He is bright, articulate, and a film-room junkie. And if character counts in the NFL these days, not many prospects at this week's combine workouts here are as squeaky clean.

Scout's Take
Observations from a collection of NFL scouts at the combine:

  • "Right now, the majority of our scouts feel like Kevin Jones (of Virginia Tech) is the best back in the draft. But there's my hangup with him: You see him break a lot of long runs on tape, but you don't see him break a lot of tackles, you know? He's got some 'long strider' to him, and I'd like to see him running in some tight spots, where he's got to chop his steps more and maybe make a hole for himself once in a while."

  • "Another running back I haven't been impressed with, as far as his inside strength, is (Michigan's) Chris Perry. Now he's a guy who is supposed to run hard, right? But I looked at maybe three tapes of him last week and I don't see the explosiveness and the power I thought I would. On the plus side, he has a little more wiggle than people told me he did. He won't run away from safeties or anything, but he does know what to do when he gets into the secondary. I'd just like to see him knocking the linebackers back a little more because, let's face it, he isn't a speed guy. I'm thinking he's about a 4.55 guy (in the 40) and so he'd better get his pads down when he's running. Oh, yeah, another plus is that he's a very, very positive kid and, from what we gather, a real leader."

  • "There's a lot to like about (Arkansas) offensive tackle Shane Andrews. He is so girthy and looks naturally strong. But there's some softness to him, too, and I don't like the fact he basically abandoned his team in its bowl game. Some people are talking about maybe an attitude problem. In talking with him, I didn't see that, but there is definitely a streak of immaturity that needs to be addressed. And he just seems like a kid who will have to be pointed in the direction of the weight room."

  • "OK, we all know that fullbacks don't get taken until the second day (of the draft), so don't make too big a thing of this. But the (Lousaka) Polite kid from Pitt might be the best fullback in this draft. He has size, can run the one-back (formation), is an excellent pass protector and has very good hands. Don't brag on him too much because we like him and are hoping he's around for us in the fifth or sixth round."

  • "I am incredibly anxious to see if (Wisconsin wide receiver) Lee Evans works out and, if he does, how he runs. Here was a kid, two years ago, that people felt was the best overall prospect in the country. Not just the best wide receiver, maybe the best player, period. And then he blew out his knee in spring ball, had two surgeries, and he's sort of buried in the pack now, because there are so many great receivers in this draft. But he looked like he got his explosiveness back in the second half of the year. He makes the big play when you need it, sticks the ball in the end zone, goes aggressively after the ball. Someone is going to get him in about the second half of the second round and might get a steal."

  • "(Georgia Tech) offensive tackle Nat Dorsey is just big all over, isn't he? But he looks like a player for whom things came too easily. I mean, he was an all-conference player as a freshman and then it looked in some games like he was playing on reputation. Maybe he should have stayed in school for his senior year, I don't know, but he has to do something to get hungry again about the game. The tools, though, are definitely there."
    -- Len Pasquarelli
  • A lot of players adhere to the Boy Scout motto and come here prepared for everything the coaches and talent evaluators throw at them. Gallery has done one better. He is, in fact, an Eagle Scout, one of three prospects here who have risen to that estimable level. Do not for a minute believe that the Eagle Scout notation on Gallery's résumé has escaped notice of the teams interested in choosing him.

    Noted one NFC general manager: "He might be one of those rare guys who seems too good to be true … and who really is exactly what he appears to be."

    Around the combine

  • Doug Williams is here in his role as Tampa Bay Bucs pro personnel assistant and, while he didn't want to discuss in much degree the various reports that he had harbored some second thoughts about leaving Grambling University, it is clear he's thrown himself into his new position. "There is a lot of stuff to learn and not much time to get up to speed," Williams said on Thursday morning. "A lot, and I mean a lot, of meetings. But that's OK, because it's what I need. I like to think I have an eye (for talent), but this job is about more than thinking you know what players are about."

  • Exiled Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett reiterated his decision to not work out here and it was, predictably, received with mixed reviews by team personnel officials. One of the interesting elements of the Thursday morning interviews in the media center, which featured more head coaches and personnel directors than prospects, was the reluctance of league people to discuss the Clarett situation. Two personnel directors confirmed that the league has not issued a gag order, recommending that clubs don't discuss Clarett, but both acknowledged they feel a bit uncomfortable fielding questions about him. "Look, my stance is that (the Clarett lawsuit) is still under appeal, and I'll be damned if I'm going to be the guy who says something to hurt the league's case," said an AFC personnel chief.

  • League sources told ESPN.com that, to this point, there have been no new players who have applied for draft eligibility since the NFL re-opened the process in the wake of the Clarett ruling. Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy opined that, in subsequent years, he feels there will be players petitioning for draft entry before the former three-year limit for their high school graduation date. "It will be the troubled kids," Dungy said. "The kids who know they're going to have to work hard to maintain (college) eligibility, and who just don't want to do it. It's just human nature that, if you make things easy for people, there will always be people who take the easy way out."

  • There are three former Marshall University wide receivers -- Troy Brown of New England, Arizona's Nathan Poole and, of course, Randy Moss of Minnesota -- who are currently on NFL rosters. Darius Watts would love to turn the alumni group into a cozy foursome but, to do so, he will have to demonstrate to scouts that he is as durable as the other three Thundering Herd products. Watts finished his college career with 47 touchdown catches, just three shy of the Division I-A record, held by current Jacksonville wideout Troy Edwards. But he also finished with a lengthy injury dossier that included a shoulder separation, badly sprained ankle and twisted foot. Given that the wide receiver group is likely the deepest position here, Watts needs a quick recovery, but he is still wearing a walking boot much of the time. "I need to be able to run and, if I can fight through the pain, I'm going to try," said Watts. "My numbers (in college) were good and I think that teams know about me. But I can't afford to try to live off my reputation. I mean, there are a ton of guys here with bigger names than I've got."

  • He probably won't get his wish, but Miami (Fla.) offensive lineman Vernon Carey still would like a chance to play at tackle, before being moved inside to guard, where it seems most teams project him. "In the end, it's not going to matter, because I feel I'll succeed at either position," said Carey, who certainly looks more the part of a guard from a physical standpoint. "But let's be honest, huh, tackle is the glamour position."

  • Mewelde Moore, the standout all-purpose tailback from Tulane, isn't fretting that scouts will find him smaller than he was listed on the roster in college. "From what I see now, this isn't a league for big backs anymore," said Moore, a gifted backfield receiver and a prospect tabbed as a third-down back. "They're looking for guys who can make plays out in space, and that's me. Frankly, I think the game is evolving towards backs like me."

  • Detroit Lions coach Steve Mariucci allowed that his team has already had preliminary talks with Washington Redskins officials about what it might take to complete a trade for "franchise" cornerback Champ Bailey. "It's early," said Maruicci. "Very early. But they know where we're at, how to find us, and we know they're aware of our interest. We'll just have to see where it goes."

    The last word
    "I don't care if people call me dirty. As long as they don't call me soft, that's all." -- Virginia Tech center Jake Grove, on his reputation for illegal blocks.

    Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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