In a game against Texas A&M late last season, Broyles turned to make a move after leaping up for a 31-yard catch in the third quarter, and heard a crack in his knee.
"It was a tough situation," Broyles said. "I jump up; plant, twist and I felt something I knew wasn't right. I tried to get up right that instant and knew something wasn't right."
Broyles made it to the sideline where team doctors put him on the table and quickly diagnosed him with a torn ACL.
The diagnosis instantly sent the stock of the NCAA's all-time leader in receptions (349) from a possible first-round pick to a second- or third-round pick in this year's draft.
When it came time for the Lions to make a selection with the 54th-overall pick, all they had to do was look up to the top of their board and there was Broyles' name. Needing a versatile fourth receiver who can also return kicks, the weren't going to let his stock drop any farther.
"We just listen to our board; we just follow our board," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said after the pick. "Our board tells us who the best players are and this guy was the guy to take for us."
Schwartz said the injury didn't scare them away at all.
The Lions have experience with this exact situation. Back in 2010, Lions tight end
Pettigrew rehabbed the entire offseason and started all 16 games in 2011.
"I wouldn't expect it to be a 'redshirt (season),'" Schwartz said. "Every knee injury is a little bit different but the predictability of ACLs has become a little bit better.
"He worked out – he didn't work out at the combine, he worked at his pro day; he wasn't 100-percent, but he was five months off his ACL and he seems to be ahead of schedule."
The good thing for the Lions is they don't have to rush Broyles onto the field before he's ready, according to Schwartz.
"You see teams that have a lot of different weapons, we've seen teams in our division that have found use for guys like that and they've affected games," Schwartz said. "He was the best player on our board and there's a discipline that goes along with that thought process."
The Lions see Broyles as a physical receiver who can play both inside and outside, but I'd suspect he plays more inside, initially.
"He just has a knack for the game," Schwartz said. "He's very, very strong; he's not the biggest guy in the world.
"Ryan benched like 23 times which is extremely rare for a wide receiver to get into the 20s. That's the kind of skill set that helps him. He's very, very quick; he just has great instincts like a lot of good punt returners and a lot of good run-after-the-catch guys have had."
Broyles thinks he'll be ready to play by training camp and recently got a little encouragement from Patriots' receiver Wes Welker, who suffered an ACL tear a couple seasons ago.
"He hit me up with an email and pretty much said he went through the same thing and to buckle down and 'you'll get back.'
"Obviously, we've seen the way he's played over the years. That was definitely encouraging.
"I'm back to doing everything normal. I'm doing all the weight room stuff, all the running stuff. I'm getting my flexibility back as well so I'm on pace to look good. I feel better than ever."