Maul Rats: Bickety-Bam! Who I Want To Start On the 2009 Lions O-Line

Joel JarviContributor IJune 7, 2009

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 28: Gosder Cherilus #77 of the Detroit Lions sits on the bench near the end of a game against the Green Bay Pacekrs on December 28, 2008 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Lions 31-21. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

As a lifelong Lions fan, I have had a dream.

It's the same every year.

Five hulking specimens of muscle and rage sauntering to the line of scrimmage, the quarterback barking out the cadence, the onset of controlled violence, holes opening, running backs darting.

And every year, the reality is something way different.

George Foster false starting his way out of the starting line-up, Jeff Backus being a human turnstile for the opposing defensive ends, holes closing, and quarterbacks and running backs being swallowed up in the backfield.

Snootchy-bootchy. It's time for a Wolvie berzerk style o-line.

RT - Gosder Cherilus - 6' 7" - 319 lbs: Yes, he started the majority of the 0-16 season at RT. Yes, he was a Matt Mustache pick. But he's a brawler. You cannot coach up 6' 7", 319 and angry. Gosder was born like that. He's an anchor.

RG - Daniel Loper - 6' 6" - 320 lbs: Brought from Tennessee by new head coach Jim Schwartz. He's not a career starter, but played in all 16 regular season games in 2007 and 2008. Nice thing about this signing, I'm not concerned about this being a case of Schwartz bringing in guys he's comfortable with (i.e. EVERY FREE AGENT SIGNING DURING THE ROD MARINELLI ERA). Loper and Cherilus on one side of the line is a lot of man meat, the scales don't lie.

C - Dominic Raiola - 6' 1" - 296 lbs: So, if you read the "well-respected NFL critics" (AKA Guys That Get Paid To Do This), they say that Raiola is one of the top centers IN THE LEAGUE. I know there is something wrong when the "experts" tell me one thing, but my eyes tell me something completely different. That being said, I'm hoping a new OC and HC will let Dom realize some of this potential instead of channeling it all through his middle finger.

LG Jeff Backus - 6' 5" - 305 lbs: Is undersized for a NFL tackle, but perfect size for a NFL guard? I think so. Backus has been playing over his head his entire career. He was a product of an AMAZING college program (that's coming from a Sparty, folks) that churns out the offensive lineman for the NFL (see Jon Runyan, Jake Long, Jon Jansen, Maurice Williams, Steve Hutchinson, etc). Backus will excel playing next to...

LT Jon Jansen - 6' 6" - 297 lbs: Is this a salary cap casualty from Washington or do the Redskin's doctors know something we don't? I don't care. I care that the new regime here in Detroit identified a need and filled it with Pro Bowl caliber talent. This man comes to play every Sunday and the runners he blocks for succeed.

Overall, Lion's brass has managed to pull together a mean, nasty unit to protect it's high-priced rookie investment in Stafford and give some room for Kevin Smith, Calvin Johnson, and Brandon Pettigrew (never mind what the addition of a REAL tight end in Pettigrew in and of itself will accomplish) to show some of the talent that everyone thinks is there.

Look for this line to straight up MAUL opposing defenses.

Look for Kevin Smith to top 1000 yards this season.

Look for Matt Stafford to get a hell of a lot better chance than Joey Harrington ever did.