Many Oakland Raiders fans might have clamored for Mississippi quarterback Eli Manning, Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald or Texas wide receiver Roy Williams. Iowa offensive tackle Robert Gallery, however, was the right choice for the Raiders at the No. 2 spot.
Granted, coming off a 4-12 season like Oakland did in 2003 might make fans desire for the exciting pick like quarterback or receiver but those positions become irrelevant without guys up front to block..
There are more salient reasons why Gallery was the right choice:
He can help now
If Oakland would have drafted a future running mate for Jerry Porter at wide receiver, he probably would not have started as long as future Hall-of-Famers Jerry Rice and Tim Brown were present – which they still are. When discussing the Raiders 30-plus-year old veterans, most people believed that Brown (37) and Rice (41) were the ones that should call it a career.
Unfortunately, they are missing the point. While they are not the best in the game any longer, they are far from the worst. Plus, the Raiders were without their top two quarterbacks last season and had three starting offensive linemen finish the year on injured reserve.
The situation is much different at tackle, where Lincoln Kennedy announced that he would be retiring on Dec. 22. Kennedy's retirement is not yet official. The Raiders have said they would welcome Kennedy back but added they are leaving that decision up to him. Even if Kennedy returns, he clearly looks like damaged goods.
Granted, his leadership and character are stuff of a tremendous role model but when it comes to injuries with Kennedy – pick one.
Langston Walker, who was a second round draft pick in 2002, appears to be ready to step in at one tackle position but on the other side left tackle Barry Sims had his problem with false start penalties last season. Sims has played well at times but has had his problems with speed rushers. Some people believe that Sims is a better option at guard.
He is not only capable of started right away but there is a need for him to do such. Gallery does not just block people. He moves them into Row G in the process.
His position is tougher to fill
Many scouts believe that Gallery is a lot like Orlando Pace, Tony Boselli and Jonathan Ogden in that you can pencil him into the lineup at left tackle and keep him there for say 10 or 15 years.
He also plays left tackle, the man who protects the quarterback's blind side. Those players are much tougher to find.
Wide receiver, on the other hand, is the easiest position to fill because the draft is always full of good receivers who last beyond the first round. Granted, there are some receivers who were first round draft picks that have panned out like Minnesota's Randy Moss and Indianapolis' Marvin Harrison. Then there are those like Philadelphia's Terrell Owens lasting until the third round or New Orleans' Joe Horn lasting until the fifth round.
Tampa Bay's Keenan McCardell once lasted into the 12th round. Granted, McCardell does not have a spot reserved for him in Canton, Ohio, but you can do much worse.
To embellish the point even further, there are 32 NFL teams. Last season, the leading receptions leader was a wide receiver on 26 of those teams. How many of those reception leading wide receivers were first round picks? Six. That's 6 out of 26 folks. Not even one quarter.
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at email@example.com