Mission accomplished at combine

Robert Gallery went to the combine in Indianapolis to impress and feels he accomplished that goal.

Updated: February 26, 2004, 12:01 PM ET
By Robert Gallery | Special to ESPN.com

Editor's note: Iowa offensive tackle Robert Gallery, last year's Outland Trophy winner and projected high first-round pick in April's NFL draft, will chronicle his pre-draft experiences for ESPN.com.

I warned you guys last week not to let this slim physique of mine fool you. I tried to give you a head's up; hope you were paying attention because if you weren't you are going to be surprised when you see my forty time

Robert Gallery
Robert Gallery is tested for his vertical leap during drills at the combine.
Last week I left you as I was getting ready to head off to Indianapolis for the combine. I went there with a lot of confidence, looking to show teams my talents as well as give them a greater idea of who I really am. All in all I think I had a great four days.

For those who do not know much about the combine, it is a crazy and hectic event. We are constantly running around, taking different tests, conducting interviews, and parading in front of different teams. It can be a very taxing experience that can take its toll on you before you even get to the on-field activities.

I weighed in at 6-foot-7, 323 pounds and endured the poking and prodding from each of the teams at the start of the combine. The next process was the psychological tests, which were meant to tell teams what kind of person I am. I ended up taking about five of them, including one exam which was 450 questions including one that asked whether I'd rather be a dog or a cat. See if you can guess what I chose?

Next were the interviews -- the first really make or break part of the combine. Each team can conduct up to 60 private interviews with whomever they want. I was asked to do eleven. I met with just about all of the teams that have the top picks in the draft. I felt very good going into the interviews largely because of my talks with Rick Smith (my agent), Chris Doyle (my strength coach), and because of how my parents raised me. I knew that as long as I answered the questions truthfully and was myself, they'd see the real me. And that is what I did.

For the most part, each of the interviews was basically the same. They asked many of the same questions. Each team had all of their top people in the room. I met with general managers, head and assistant coaches, position coaches, and anyone else who will have a say on draft day. The organizations only get fifteen minutes to interrogate us, so it is a pretty intense atmosphere. The questions are fired at you from the time you enter until the time you leave. However, there was one interview that stood out from the others. One team had a sports psychologist in the room firing off questions. The trick was that he never let you fully answer them. It was extremely frustrating at first, but once I realized what was going on I remained poised and just answered as truthfully as I could.

Almost every team asked me why I thought they should pick me. I felt a bit awkward talking about myself like that, but I knew it was a fair question. In all honesty, I think that I am a risk free choice. Coach Ferentz has had us in an NFL-type system at Iowa. I am ready to play immediately and feel I am capable of doing so. I don't have a troubled background, my parents raised me right, and I'm a hard worker. I don't come with baggage, and I respect the game, and the privilege of playing football in the NFL.

The best part of the interviews was at the end when they gave us bags filled with their team's apparel, most of which my younger brother has already stolen from me. Of course, once I get drafted he will have to stick to wearing only one team's clothes!

Once the interviews were over, it was time to display my strength and athleticism. We did the bench press first and I must admit that I was a bit disappointed with my results. They recorded me with getting only twenty-four reps. I put up more than thirty but they didn't count some of them because they said I didn't do a few reps the way they wanted. But from talking to teams I don't think it hurt me much because many people said they know how strong I am from watching game film. It was more disappointing for pride sake than anything, but it's alright, I've gotten over it

Next up was the speed and drills section; probably the most important part of our time at the combine. I wanted to show teams how fast and agile I really am. I ended up running a 4.95 in the 40, and as low as 4.89 on a handheld timer. I ran everything very well and was generally in the top three in all of the events for my group. Coach Doyle got me in great shape for the Combine. Once you are on the field, everything is back to back and by the time you make it to the last couple of drills you have to really stay focused and forget that you are tired. I found out conditioning is just as important at the combine as well.

Some people have asked why I worked out at that Combine, where as some of the other so called "top" prospects did not. After discussing this with Rick and Chris, we all decided that the combine is the only chance to ever perform in front of all thirty-two teams, their scouts, their coaches, their general managers, their owners, and all of the other decision makers at the same time. My goal for the combine was to improve my draft stock and show them that I am faster and more athletic than they originally had thought. The stage was set for me, I am a competitor and as a competitor there was no better chance than the combine to show what I've got, and I think I made the most of the opportunity.

The greatest part of the experience was the opportunity to sit down and talk with some coaches that I have always respected and seen on television growing up. I talked with the likes of Marty Schottenheimer and Dennis Green, sitting in awe as they gave me compliments and praises, I felt like it should have been reversed. Those are the moments you dream of as a kid growing up playing football. It's amazing when they come true.

Now that the combine is over I am switching the focus of my training. I am gearing up now for my pro days which are March 8th and 22nd, as well as preparing for mini-camp. I am not quite sure how much I'm going to do at our pro day at this point. I probably won't run because I'm satisfied with my times from the combine. I am still debating whether or not I will bench. If I do, it will be more for my ego than anything else. As far as the drills, I'll do anything that teams want to see me do. So anyone who wants to take a trip out to the lovely state of Iowa and see me work out, feel free to join us.

That should do it for now. I have to go work on my bench press technique. Talk to you next week.

By the way, I chose a dog.

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