ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions addressed a desperate need after adding some depth at a position of strength.
Detroit drafted Louisiana-Lafayette cornerback Dwight "Bill" Bentley in the third round of the NFL draft, taking a player who will get a shot to start right away. The move followed its selection of Oklahoma wide receiver Ryan Broyles in the second round Friday night.
"Well, we drafted a corner," Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said with a smile.
Detroit is stacked at receiver with All-Pro Calvin Johnson, standout veteran Nate Burleson and 2011 second-round pick Titus Young, but that didn't stop the team from giving Matthew Stafford another option when he throws.
The Lions simply determined that Broyles, the NCAA career receptions leader, was too talented to pass up with the 54th pick overall even though he's coming off major knee surgery.
"I'm glad the Detroit Lions felt I was a guy that was capable of coming back from an injury," Broyles said.
Broyles, who is from Norman, Okla., had 349 career receptions for 4,586 yards, 45 touchdowns and 1,194 yards on punt returns for the Sooners. His sensational career was cut short when he tore a ligament in his left knee in November shortly after breaking the NCAA receptions record.
"We have the luxury of being able to rehab this guy very carefully and let him get healthy," Mayhew said. "If the guy was healthy now, he would've been gone."
Less than five months after surgery, Broyles ran the 40-yard dash and a handful of routes for pro scouts. In about 30 minutes, the 5-foot-11, 187-pound receiver showed he could accelerate, make quick stutter-step stops and come out of his breaks to catch passes.
"I showed a little bit during pro days that I'm on pace to be ready for training camp," he said.
The 5-foot-11, 173-pound Bentley, who has been known as Bill since middle school in Pahokee, Fla., had three interceptions last season and seven in his career. He will get a chance to compete with Aaron Berry to start opposite veteran cornerback Chris Houston.
"He's not the tallest or the heaviest," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "But he ran real fast and is a good cover guy and is an aggressive player. He throws his body around."
After starring in the Sun Belt Conference, Bentley gave the Lions a glimpse of what he could do against the best college football players in the country at the Senior Bowl. That helped him get drafted 85th overall.
"I felt like it boosted my stock," he said. "I went out there with a chip on my shoulder to show I can compete with the best."
The Lions entered the draft needing help at cornerback, the only position they don't have a starter returning from last season. Detroit lost cornerback Eric Wright in free agency when he signed with Tampa Bay and has every other key player back from the franchise's first playoff team since the 1999 season.
When Detroit didn't take a corner in the first or second round, Schwartz explained the team's philosophy.
"If you chase needs, you're chasing a moving target," Schwartz said. "What looks like a need one day, might not be a need another day."
The Lions took Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff in the first round with the 23rd overall pick Thursday night. They have a fourth and fifth round pick on Saturday along with two slots in the seventh and final round.
"The draft is not the finish line," Mayhew said.
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