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Most Surprising Starting Wide Receivers: Marcus Easley (Buffalo), Ryan Broyles (Detroit) and Lestar Jean (Houston). We are nominating three wide receivers due to the number of NFL teams that feature three-wide receiver sets in their offensive schemes.
The three receivers in question, Easley, Broyles and Jean have quite a bit in common. They are all very young, they are inexperienced, and none of the three has ever caught a pass in a NFL regular season game. But, that is all about to change in 2012.
Kevin Fishbain of Pro Football Weekly.com, writes that Easley is the wild card in the competition for the No. 2 receiver job in Buffalo.
For Easley, he has sat out the first two NFL seasons due to knee injury in 2010 and then he developed a heart ailment in 2011. He has an outstanding chance to not only start in 2012, but to have a breakout season.
Defenses will be keying on Fred Jackson and Stevie Johnson, so Easley will be probably looking at single-coverage for the majority of the year. He is a big target, at 6'2" and weighing 221 pounds, and is very fast. He ran a 4.46 at the NFL scouting combines in 2010.
Jean has been impressing in OTA's, and is looking to move up the depth chart, as per this story from Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle.
In 2011, Jean had a shoulder injury that prevented him from contributing. But when Jacoby Jones left Houston in free agency, that opened up a slot for Jean to take the ball and run with it, literally.
Out of the surprise choices, Ryan Broyles really has the toughest battle if he is to become a starter. First of all, he has to finish his rehab and gain medical clearance prior to training camp. Rob Rang of NFL Draft Scout.com wrote that Broyles has a decent shot of gaining 100 percent medical clearance by the start of camp.
Next, he will have to beat out either Nate Burleson or Titus Young if he wants to be a starter. In Young's case, if he keeps fighting with teammates, he will make the decision easier.
As an Oklahoma alumnus, I watched every game that Broyles played in college, and he is an impressive wide receiver. Assuming he gains the medical clearance he needs, he will have plenty of time in training camp to prove to the Lions coaches that he deserves to be a starter. Should be a fun battle for Lions fans to watch.