ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions are stacked at receiver with All-Pro Calvin Johnson, standout veteran Nate Burleson and 2011 second-round pick Titus Young.
That didn’t stop the Lions from giving Matthew Stafford another option when he throws.
Detroit drafted Oklahoma wide receiver Ryan Broyles in the second round Friday night, deciding the NCAA career receptions leader was too talented to pass up even though he’s coming off major knee surgery.
“I’m glad the Detroit Lions felt I was a guy that was capable of coming back from an injury,” Broyles said.
Detroit drafted Broyles 54th overall, sticking with their best-prospect-available strategy despite a desperate need at cornerback and a thinner depth chart elsewhere on defense.
“He was the best player on our board, a very productive guy,” Detroit general manager Martin Mayhew said. “He’ll be a great fit for us, another receiving weapon for our quarterback.”
Broyles, who is from Norman, Okla., had 349 career receptions for 4,586 yards, 45 touchdowns and 1,194 yards on punt returns for the Sooners. His sensational career was cut short when he tore a ligament in his left knee in November shortly after breaking the NCAA receptions record.
“We have the luxury of being able to rehab this guy very carefully and let him get healthy,” Mayhew said. “If the guy was healthy now, he would’ve been gone.”
Less than five months after surgery, Broyles ran the 40-yard dash and a handful of routes for pro scouts. In about 30 minutes, the 5-foot-11, 187-pound receiver showed he could accelerate, make quick stutter-step stops and come out of his breaks to catch passes.
“I showed a little bit during pro days that I’m on pace to be ready for training camp,” he said.
The Lions took Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff in the first round with the 23rd overall pick Thursday night. They also had third, fourth and fifth round picks along with two slots in the seventh and final round.
Detroit has a desperate need at cornerback and could use some help at other positions on defense, but the franchise is sticking to its plan to keep improving by adding talent regardless of position.
“If you chase needs, you’re chasing a moving target,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “What looks like a need one day, might not be a need another day. Martin has said this before, the finish line is not the draft.”
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