The Oakland Raiders will have at least one but quite likely two new offensive tackles. The question is how long will it take?
With Lincoln Kennedy having retired, third-year man Langston Walker figures to step in at right tackle. Kennedy's threshold for pain was simply incredible and his leadership will be missed. Whether Kennedy makes it to Canton, Ohio, remains to be seen but he had a career worthy of Hall-of-Fame consideration. Oakland has left the door open in case Kennedy decides to return but that is unlikely to happen.
Walker has been mostly a backup, fill-in starter and third tight end in some formations. While this would be the first season he would enter as the slated starter, the Raiders have seen enough to know that Walker is ready.
For now, Robert Galley, who was the second overall pick in April's draft from the University of Iowa, is listed at No. 2 for left tackle. However, it does not figure to take long before Gallery supplants Barry Sims, who has started at left tackle since the 2000 season.
The sexier pick might have been Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, whom Arizona selected one pick after Oakland took Gallery. Unfortunately, those people miss the point. For one, Fitzgerald is likely to start in Arizona but probably would not have in Oakland. Secondly, offensive tackles that can start immediately are tougher to find. Thirdly, the draft is always full of diamond in the rough receivers.
As much as the Raiders might say that Gallery is the No. 2 man, it's hard to imagine drafting a player of Gallery's stature without the intention of making him the starter. Sims has done a solid job at left tackle but has had problems with speedy pass rushers and last season had a problem committing false starts. There is a possibility that Sims could slide inside to guard.