Analyst Phil Simms says he sees a little Wes Welker in rookie Ryan Broyles

Posted Nov 20, 2012

Simms got his first live look at Broyles at practice, Tuesday, and thought he had some of the same qualities as a young Welker.

Former NFL quarterback and current CBS analyst Phil Simms covers a lot of New England Patriots games throughout the football season and sees a whole lot of receiver Wes Welker, who he considers the best slot receiver in the game.

Welker has been the gold standard at the position for the better part of a decade and is one of the reasons the Patriots have been so good on offense for such a long time.

“To me, the slot receiver in the NFL has to be tearing it up, and when he’s not, I think it changes offenses,” Simms told Tuesday. “The top offenses I look at in the NFL have a slot receiver that's playing not just good, but great.

“Look at the Indianapolis Colts this year. Who’s the slot receiver most of the time? Reggie Wayne. He’s catching a lot of balls (76 so far). As (interim head coach) Bruce Arians says, Reggie came to him and asked him why he wanted him in the slot and Arians said, ‘Because that’s where the ball goes.’”

The Lions think they have the makings of a pretty good slot receiver in rookie Ryan Broyles, who has caught 15 of the 18 passes thrown his way over the last five games with two touchdowns.

Simms got his first live look at Broyles at practice, Tuesday, and thought he had some of the same qualities as a young Welker.

“The first thing I said was, ‘Boy, he’s pretty quick,'" Sims said.

“I love to do the eye test and going to games. Yeah, I can watch them on tape and on TV, but there’s something about seeing them in person and my first impression of (Broyles) when he ran a route was that I liked what I saw. He’s got fast feet, skinny legs and has the body to be the quick, fast guy. He has the look. Really, to me, that’s the look I like in a slot receiver. The guy that can do the work underneath.”

Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said Broyles had the best understanding of how to play the slot than any receiver that he's seen come out of college in a while. It’s because of that, and the fact that Broyles was college football’s all-time leading receiver, that the Lions took him in the second round of this year’s draft, despite him coming off an ACL.

“That’s such a learned craft,” Simms said of playing the slot. “Wes Welker didn’t become Wes Welker because he went to New England and said, ‘Hey, let’s run some option routes.’ It takes a while. But for the talented people, and (Broyles) might be one, they can learn it fast.”

Simms said Welker can vary the same five-yard out route seven different ways during a game, which is one of the reasons he’s so difficult to cover.

He said Broyles looks capable of the same thing if the Lions offense is patient enough and can stay together long enough to help him get there.