Detroit Lions: Revisiting the Ryan Broyles 2012 Draft Selection

Eric VincentCorrespondent ISeptember 24, 2012

In May after the NFL draft, I published an article discussing the Detroit Lions' second-round pick Ryan Broyles, questioning the logic and reasoning behind general manager Martin Mayhew's decision of drafting an unhealthy wide receiver over upgrading on defense.

Broyles was a very talented target from Oklahoma coming off a bad ACL injury that ended his last collegiate season early. A sure-handed wideout who could be a reliable No. 2 or 3 option on a team in need of receivers. 

However, the Lions coming into the draft didn't need another wide receiver. With Calvin Johnson producing a monster season in 2011, as well as hopeful futures for wideouts Titus Young and Nate Burleson, wide receiver should have been the last position on the Lions' draft board.

The Lions still had a solid tight end core of Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Scheffler and Will Heller. They have been disappointments so far this season, but that has come as a surprise. The number of drops and bone-headed plays weren't often seen last season compared to now.

With the selection official, Broyles showed much promise during training camp. He played sparingly in the preseason and showed a slight glimpse of his talent against the Baltimore Ravens.

During Broyles' training camp, the Lions were trying to find the right fits in the secondary. With defensive leader Louis Delmas out from knee surgery and the Lions drafting many project corners, the secondary didn't look promising.

Rookie Bill Bentley has looked to be the most promising of the three cornerbacks drafted. Jonte Green has struggled since preseason, and Chris Greenwood is on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list with a torn abdominal muscle.

Broyles has barely touched the field this season and is yet to catch a pass. Bentley looks to have a bright future in the NFL but has struggled from time to time.

With the struggle of the defense and non-existence of Broyles, what sense has the pick made so far?

Sure, it's still early in the season. Broyles could wake up along with the Lions offense at any moment. But will that equal an increase in production from the defense? Not necessarily. 

Quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense have surprisingly looked a bit sluggish this season. Stafford has thrown bad balls to his receivers, and some of his targets have regressed since last season (Young, Pettigrew).

However, the issue with the Lions offense isn't the lack of talent available. This offense can still be explosive and has proved just that without Broyles on the field. Calvin Johnson is still the best receiver in the league, and the other weapons are reliable enough to get the job done.

But even with the success and potential of the offense, too many questions remain on defense. With Delmas on the sideline with injury and the secondary struggling to improve, the Lions have been picked apart through the pass.

This isn't a knock on Broyles' skill set or potential with the Lions. It's only to raise the question again why this pick would benefit the team. The offense hasn't been better with Broyles, and the defense continues to struggle as it did last season.

Looking at the Lions defense this season, there wasn't much improvement from 2011. Mayhew and Jim Schwartz stick with drafting the best available player while refusing to fill the team's gaping holes. If the Lions didn't want to draft a cornerback to address need, they could've, at the very least, stuck with defensive improvements. 

In my May article, there was plenty of optimism and hope for Broyles to be uplifting and make the team better. It hasn't happened yet, and it more than likely won't if the Lions trot out every Sunday with the same defensive lineup. 

Is that same optimism there for Broyles and the Lions? After these first few games of 2012, it should be hard to say "yes" to that question.

All hope isn't lost with Detroit so early in the year, but will Broyles be a deciding factor for the turnaround? Doubtful.