Draft outlook: Offensive tackle

This is one story in a series looking ahead to the NFL draft pertaining to the Oakland Raiders by position. Today, here's a look at offensive tackle:

What the Raiders have: Langston Walker, who enters his third season, figures to start somewhere on the offensive line this year. He appears ready to take over for the retired Lincoln Kennedy at right tackle and is capable of playing at guard.

There is, however, a twist. Kennedy announced to the media after the Raiders 41-7 loss to Green Bay on Dec. 22 that he would retire after the 2003 season. Kennedy, however, is not yet officially retired because the paperwork has yet to be filled. That scenario leads one to believe that Kennedy might be open to returning but the Raiders say they are leaving that decision in his hands.

Barry Sims returns as the left tackle but Oakland is seriously lacking at the position in terms of depth.

What the Raiders might do: Despite fans getting enamored with taking wide receivers (Mike Williams and Larry Fitzgerald) and quarterbacks (Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger); it is quite possible that Oakland might use the second pick on Iowa tackle Robert Gallery.

Keep in mind, first round quarterbacks have been a hit-and-miss proposition and good receivers are always available later in the draft. It is much tougher, however, to find a franchise offensive tackle that one can pencil into the lineup for 10 years or so. If Oakland decides to wait later in the draft, East Carolina's Brian Rimpf, Stanford's Kirk Chambers and Duke's Drew Strojny are possibilities.


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