How the OU trio fits with the Detroit Lions

May, 1, 2012
5/01/12
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Ryan BroylesBrett Davis/US PresswireFormer OU receiver Ryan Broyles was one of three Sooners to be drafted by Detroit in 2012.
From Steve Owens to Billy Sims to Barry Sanders, the Detroit Lions have always had an affinity for drafting players from Oklahoma. But never anything like this.

Over the weekend, the Lions drafted three players from OU -- receiver Ryan Broyles in the second round, defensive end Ronnell Lewis in the fourth and outside linebacker Travis Lewis in the seventh. It's believed to be the first time the Lions have taken three players from one school in the same draft since 1958.

SoonerNation quizzed Lions beat writer Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (you can follow him on Twitter at @davebirkett) about this haul and how each Sooner might fit in Motown.

1. Was it simply coincidence the Lions ended up drafting three OU players, or was there something about OU that intrigued them?

Birkett: Coincidence. That's not to say they don't like and value Oklahoma players and the program - they do. But drafting Ryan Broyles, Ronnell Lewis and Travis Lewis was about each player's individual fit in Detroit more than their ties to Oklahoma. Still, it's impressive to think this is the first time in more than 50 years they've taken three players from one program in the same draft.


Matthew Emmons/US Presswire
Former OU linebacker Travis Lewis will need to stand out on special teams in the NFL.


2. The Lions obviously have needs on defense. Why then did they take Ryan Broyles with their second pick, and do they believe he'll be ready to go for minicamp?

Birkett: They caught a lot of flack from fans for passing on defensive needs to take Broyles in Round 2, but he was their highest-ranked player, they stuck with their board and he does fill a need as a No. 4 receiver. As for minicamp, no, it's doubtful he'll be ready next month and he could open training camp on the physically unable to perform list. They're deep enough at receiver they can bring him along slowly, but they expect him to contribute this fall.

3. How will Broyles fit in on an offense with so many receiving weapons already in place?

Birkett: Initially, Broyles will be the Lions' No. 4 receiver behind Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson and Titus Young. If he's healthy, he should handle punt-return duties, too - an area the Lions struggled in last year. Ideally, Broyles will be a weapon from the slot position for the next six or eight years.

4. The Lions run a 4-3, but given his skill set, seemingly everyone projected that Ronnell Lewis would be drafted into a 3-4 defense. How do you see the Lions utilizing Lewis in the 4-3?

Birkett: The Lions play their defensive ends in a wide-9 technique, so size isn't always an issue. It's more important that their pass rushers have a quick first step and the motor to pursue plays all over the field. Playing the run is secondary for the Lions' defensive line. Lewis might have a hard time cracking the rotation initially, but he should be a key contributor on all cover and return teams as a rookie.

5. What are the odds that Travis Lewis makes the team after falling all the way to the seventh round in the draft?

Birkett: Lewis probably has to earn a job on special teams, but he's got a shot to make the 53-man roster. The Lions return all three of their starters at linebacker and spent a fifth-round pick on Doug Hogue last year. Backup Ashlee Palmer has been a core special-teamer the last two years, and they traded up to get another linebacker, Tahir Whitehead, in the fifth round this year. Training camp will be important to Lewis.

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