Lions beef up with Cherilus
BC lineman set to tackle NFL
Gosder Cherilus first set foot in this country from Haiti at age 14 and the sizable teen first strapped on a football helmet as a sophomore at Somerville High.
Less than a decade later, the massive 6-foot-6 1/2-inch, 314-pound Cherilus, who carved out an impressive career in the trenches at Boston College, one defined by durability and toughness, was selected by the Detroit Lions yesterday with the 17th overall pick in the NFL draft.
Calling his selection "overwhelming," the 23-year-old Cherilus is the fifth BC offensive lineman drafted in the first round since 1989, but the highest selection since the Patriots tabbed Damien Woody with the 17th pick in 1999.
Cherilus will have an opportunity to replace Woody - who signed with the Jets in the offseason - as the Lions starting right tackle.
On his way to starting a school-record 51 straight games, Cherilus was a fixture at right tackle his first three seasons, with 37 consecutive starts. He shifted to left tackle as a senior to protect the blindside of quarterback Matt Ryan, who was the third overall pick by the Falcons.
Cherilus will join a Lions team that will welcome his passion, mean streak, and physical presence, likely at right tackle.
A year ago, Detroit ranked 31st in the NFL in rushing en route to a 7-9 campaign.
"If they think I'm a better fit for the team at left, that's what I'll do and if they think right [tackle], that's where they need me, that's what I'll do," said Cherilus in a conference call last night. "I don't really care right now, I just want to come in and help out."
Lions coach Rod Marinelli was excited that "we've been able to add a very physical player to our team.
"He's a big man with great balance, great tempo, with flexibility," said Marinelli, who noted Cherilus will be in camp to compete for a job. "When you draft a guy that high, you expect him to come in and have a chance to start."
In a first round that featured a run on tackles, seven in all, Cherilus was the fourth chosen, following top pick Jake Long (Dolphins), Ryan Clady (Broncos, 12th), and Chris Williams (Bears, 14th).
"I am thrilled for Goz, especially in the first round," said BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski, shortly after the Eagles played their spring game at Alumni Stadium yesterday.
"He wanted to come out early last year, where he likely would have been a fourth-round pick. I told him he had a chance to be a first-round pick [if he came back]. He has all the measurables, size, arm length (36 1/4 inches), plus he's a tough guy. That's a pretty good combo."
Cherilus said he's "not the type who's going to be satisfied just getting the job done. I'm going to go after the guys and be aggressive and let them know that we are very good offensive linemen - we're aggressive," said the second-team Atlantic Coast Conference pick, the 11th NFL lineman produced by BC in the last decade.
"We're nasty; nothing against the whistle, everything within the whistle and really make a name for ourselves. That's what I was doing at BC for four years and I just want to carry everything to the pros."
His first regular-season game in the NFL will come against Ryan and the Falcons on Sept. 7 in Atlanta. The former Eagle teammates were the only New England players taken in the first two rounds of the draft.
"He's a great leader and one of my best friends on the team," said Cherilus. "For him to go where he went and doing as well as he's doing for himself right now, I'm happy for him."
Connecticut cornerback Tyvon Branch and St. John's Prep product Jonathan Goff, an all-Southeastern Conference middle linebacker from Vanderbilt, headline the Day 2 prospects New England.
Others include a pair of offensive guards, UConn's Donald Thomas, and MacKenzy Bernadeau from Division 2 Bentley, along with three players from Boston College: linebacker JoLonn Dunbar, safety Jamie Silva, and corner DeJuan Tribble. Malden's Breno Giacomini, an offensive tackle from Louisville, and record-setting New Hampshire quarterback Ricky Santos of Bellingham also are on the radar of a number of teams.
Craig Larson can be reached at email@example.com.