Lions wide receiver Ryan Broyles, drafted in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, might not be ready to play when the regular season begins in September. He'll be 10 months removed from reconstructive ACL surgery.
The Oklahoma receiver tore the ACL in his left knee in November but at 5-10, 194 pounds become the NCAA's all-time leader in receptions (349). He was projected as a third- or fourth-round pick because of his size and the present durability and injury questions.
General manager Martin Mayhew said the Lions, who feature Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson at wide receiver and drafted Titus Young in the second round in 2011, were certain Broyles was worth the investment, even it means starting the season on the physically unable to perform list.
"If the guy were healthy now, he'd have been gone way before our pick," Mayhew said. "We're just fortunate to have this guy on our team. Think he's a great talent."
Broyles doesn't have full range of motion but has been running in a straight line for months. He was timed at 4.57 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his pro day in April, only five months removed from the injury. He said Saturday that he's "doing everything normal" and could run routes today if needed.
The Lions intend to be extra cautious. That might temper the excitement of some Lions fans who'd hoped for a middle-tier cornerback or linebacker in the second round, but it doesn't tamp expectations from team management.
"He's a playmaker, he scores touchdowns," said coach Jim Schwartz, who believes Broyles can play any receiver position and also return punts. "And we're really excited to be able to have him."
Broyles said he's following advice on his rehab and recovery from Patriots star Wes Welker.
"I can't give you a timetable," he said. "I'm doing all the weight-room stuff, all the running, getting my flexibility back as well. So I'm on pace to just look good. I feel better than ever right now, to be honest."