NFL Insider Rick Gosselin Breaks Down the 2011 Detroit Lions

Suh has brought praise and recognition to the Detroit Lions.  Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits. Suh has brought praise and recognition to the Detroit Lions. Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.


Rick Gosselin is a well-known sports writer. He has been covering the NFL for 35 years, becoming an expert on the NFL and the NFL draft.  Both by the teams and the meid  

The respected Dallas Morning News Columnist, a graduate of Michigan State, is the best draft prognosticator around. He correctly predicted more draft picks than Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, and Peter King in the 2011 draft.

Gosselin has one advantage over his fellow analysts: he has connections. “It’s a matter of trust. It’s built up over years…I’ve probably got a call list of 80, 90 people.” Gosselin calls all of his contacts between the Combine and the NFL Draft. He organizes his position rankings according to the opinions of his connections in the NFL. His process has proven successful. In the last two years he correctly predicted the Lions picking Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.

The draft guru took some time to talk to Spartan Nation Radio about the Lions and a few of their recent draft picks.

Gosselin has high hopes for the Lions in 2011. Those hopes start with Detroit’s #1 pick in the 2009 draft: Matthew Stafford. The quarterback is entering his third season with the Lions. Stafford started ten games in an injury-shortened rookie season, passing for 2,267 yards and 13 touchdowns. The young QB was reinjured during his sophomore campaign, starting in only three games. There is a reasonable concern that Stafford is injury prone. He must prove that he can remain healthy in the NFL for a full season. “If Matthew Stafford stays healthy for the 16 games, I think they’re in the playoffs this year,” Gosselin predicted.

Gosselin places a great deal of faith in Stafford. One reason for his trust in the young player is Stafford’s outstanding football mind. “He can tell you every pass he’s thrown. He told me about his first high school game — the first touchdown pass he threw, the route, the receiver, and what the defender did on the route,” Gosselin said. “The guy’s got a great mind for football. Joe Montana had that type of mind.”

The defensive line leads the way on the opposite side of the ball for the Lions. Detroit has three very talented players at the position: Ndamukong Suh, Kyle Vanden Bosch, and Nick Fairley. Defensive linemen, especially defensive tackles, are becoming increasingly valuable. Having talented players at the position is a necessity. Gosselin explained, “If you have a weak defensive line, they don’t have to max protect [keep extra players in to block]. You can send a tight end [or] a running back into a route. But if you have a dominating front, they have to keep extra blockers in to keep the quarterback upright.”

Gosselin further stated, “A lot of teams have a 50 or 60 million dollar investment at the quarterback position…They have to protect [the quarterback]. If you have a dominating front, you’re going to keep seven, eight blockers in with only three receivers [running] a pattern. It’s easier to cover three guys with four defenders than it is to cover five guys with five defenders. If the Lions can muster a dominating pass rush, and I think they can with that tackle rotation, teams are going to have a hard time scoring on them because they’re not going to be able to flood the field with receivers. If they do, a lot of quarterbacks are going to get hurt.”

Rick Gosselin feels that the Lions can be a wild card team this year. Much of the credit goes to Jim Schwartz. “I think he’s got the [team] pointed in the right direction at long last…He is building a tremendous defensive front seven,” said Gosselin. The Lions have a dangerous combination — Matthew Stafford and a talented front seven on defense. Gosselin may be right — maybe 2011 will be a season to remember for long-suffering Lions fans.

Joe Ginley is the newest writer for the Spartan Nation website and magazine. He writes Spartans in the NFL and State of the Spartans among other articles. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio. Joe brings a great passion for sports and a great flexibility in writing skills.


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