The fact that someone can even think about using the words "bust" and "Tony Mandarich" in relation to Gallery's first two seasons makes me ... I'm not talking about the author, as his reference was tongue-in-cheek. But I've heard others question Gallery's skills when the guy hasn't even played the position at which he dominated in college. Big Bobby will do just fine protecting Vince's blind side.Raiders' Gallery will show how "natural" he is in '06
“He is a natural left tackle.”
To sum up the general consensus concerning Robert Gallery, look to the above statement.
However, when people utter that recurring statement, they are missing a big part of the picture: How can you tell if someone is a “natural,” if you have never seen him professionally play the position?
Remember the great Tony Mandarich? Like Gallery, Mandarich was a “natural” offensive tackle taken with the second overall pick in the NFL Draft. This time, it was back in 1989 and the tackle went to the Green Bay Packers. Sports Illustrated said that the 6’5", 317 pounder was “the greatest offensive line prospect of all time.” He was “the best,” absolutely “dominant;” a “physical freak.”
Now, the only place you are likely to see the name of this “physical freak” is on a top ten list of the NFL’s biggest busts in Draft history. The Michigan State tackle was favored to win the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to college football’s best interior lineman. Fans should breathe a sigh of relief to hear that BYU’s Mohammed Elewonibi stole the award that year—because, 14 years later, Robert Gallery took the same tribute home.
But wait a second…the name “Tony Mandarich” has 13 letters in it; and the name “Robert Gallery” has 13 also. Perhaps that’s just another small omen prophesizing a Gallery career collapse. Sure.... if you regularly wear a cape in public and claim you can foresee the future using snow-filled Christmas globes.
The point: You can think of a variety of ways to compare and contrast Robert Gallery to any “bust” draft choice or any naturally talented star; but, it’s still too early to tell.
The main reason it’s much too premature to tell is due to the solitary fact that he hasn’t been playing in his “natural” left tackle position. And the word “natural” is staying inside quotations because Gallery lacks any NFL experience at the position.
He was a natural in the NCAA. He is only a “natural” in the NFL.
Oakland Raiders head coach Art Shell is ready to see if the quotations can be removed. It was recently reported that Gallery will be shifted back to the left side of the front line for the 2006 campaign—a move that has been anticipated since Gallery was drafted number two in 2004. For his first two NFL seasons, Gallery has played away from his “natural” position and has struggled. After not allowing a single sack in his collegiate career, Gallery has found himself in the face of constant criticism. In his 31 career starts, he has committed 22 penalties and has allowed 6.5 sacks. That sack number is one that isn’t exactly worrisome on the surface; however, Gallery has shown throughout his short career that faster pass-rushing ends give him great difficulty. And while the end result isn’t always a sack, a hurried incomplete pass or rushed interception likely is.
Yet, still, moving Gallery to the left side is the right choice. Barry Sims let in 12 sacks at the position last year for a total loss of 105 yards. Maybe Kerry Collins should have just ran backwards 100 yards and slid to the ground five yards deep in his own endzone in week one to get it all over with.
And now, Gallery will be given more responsibility protecting the blind side of his quarterback. As a former offensive tackle himself, head coach Art Shell understands the dimensions needed to excel at this position and will fill Gallery’s deep bucket of potential with as much knowledge as he can.
But as of now, the only two realities are that Robert Gallery was a natural left tackle at the University of Iowa and that he is not a natural right tackle in the NFL. Until the 2006 season rolls around, this will remain the case.
Only after Gallery is given the proper time to develop at his “natural” left tackle position with Art Shell, Irv Eatman, and Jackie Slater as his coaches, can it finally be concluded if Gallery is a true Draft bust. For the time being, the only thing that can be concluded from the move is that a right-handed quarterback will most likely start for Oakland next season. It’s too bad they all are right-handed.
Yet another mystery remains unsolved in Raiderland.