Roaring Rookies: Broyles steps up

Lions rookie Ryan Broyles participated in Monday's OTA session. It's a good sign for a young player that could help the team immediately in 2012. Complete analysis of Broyles by Lions insider Mike Mady ...

When the Detroit Lions were on the clock with the 54th overall selection in last month's draft, many names were mentioned in speculation regarding which player they might pick.

Not many expected the name of Ryan Broyles to be called -- especially given that the position initials of 'WR' followed.

The addition of a wide receiver was curious but the Lions adamantly claimed Broyles was the highest player left on their draft board.

Below is a comprehensive look at Boyle and his future with the team.

Background

Broyles enjoyed a super-productive collegiate career at the University of Oklahoma.

From 2009-2011 Broyles compiled 303 receptions and 39 touchdowns, despite only appearing in nine games last season after tearing his ACL in early November.

Broyles is a bit undersized (5-foot-10) and – although not slow – doesn't have the blazing speed most teams covet in undersized wideouts.

Despite his lacking stature, Broyles is a solid route-runner as well as intelligent player with solid hands and good strength.

Draft Status

Broyles had the collegiate production to justify a higher draft position and the Lions believed his injury was a significant factor in his availability in the later stages of the second round.

"He'd have been gone way before our pick," said General Manager Martin Mayhew after the Lions had selected Broyles. "So, we're just fortunate to have this guy on our team. We think he's a great talent."

2012 Impact

With sure-hands, good run-after-the-catch ability and short-area quickness, Broyles has the physical tools to be a productive slot receiver. He is also a capable special teams player and has the ability to return kicks.

The Lions have acknowledged both of these skillsets but are hesitant to project Broyles to one position.

"There's a factor of playing particular inside – but just everything else, he just has a knack for the game," said head coach Jim Schwartz shortly after the Lions selected Broyles.

Broyles was held out of rookie minicamp due his recovery from November's torn ACL, but surprised many after participating in individual drills in Monday's OTA session.

It's a good sign for a player that many doubted would be ready for both training camp and/or the regular season.

"There's a lot of ground between now and (and the start of the season), but he's on a good path," said Schwartz. "He's had a good rehab so far, he showed it in his pro day and he's shown it here. It depends on what happens between now and then."

Broyles' immediate contributions will heavily depend on the speed of his recovery. If he does miss any training camp, he may be too far set back to contribute early in the season.

Long Term Impact

Broyles' skillsets match that of Nate Burleson more so than any other receiver on the Lions roster and projects to play a similar role in the long term.

At the moment, Burleson is the team's No. 2 receiver but did move to the slot in three-receiver sets in 2011 with Titus Young playing the outside.

The Lions envision Broyles manning the slot with Calvin Johnson and Titus Young as the team's outside threats for years to come.

If Broyles develops as the Lions hope, their three-receiver sets will prove to be lethal.


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