The curious case of Ryan Broyles

Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma WR 5-10 1/2, 188, 4.5 (Sooners junior Pro Day results)

Back in January 2011, most expected Oklahoma wide receiver Ryan Broyles to declare for the 2011 NFL draft.

Broyles redshirted as a freshman in 2007, when he was reportedly suspended indefinitely for stealing gas. Players can enter the NFL draft three years after their high school class graduates. Therefore, juniors or third-year sophomores can apply for entry into the draft, and Broyles' first opportunity came after the 2009 season, when he had 89 receptions for 1,120 yards and 15 TDs.

He had an even better season in 2010, with a nation-high 131 receptions for 1,622 yards and 14 TDs.

Broyles said many other factors went into his decision to stay at OU. He's from Norman, so he's already at home with friends and family. In addition, his parents had encouraged him to finish his degree. Ryan was the first in his family to go to college.

Still, when you stay in school, there always is the risk of injury. Former Sooners QB Sam Bradford and tight end Jermaine Gresham suffered season-ending injuries in 2009 after bypassing the NFL Draft, but were fortunate enough to still be selected as first round draft choices.

Entering his senior season, Broyles was thought to be a potential first round pick, although there were doubts about his ability to be an "outside" receiver due to a lack of size and speed.

Mocking Dan's Bold statement: Broyles will be the best pure slot wide receiver in the 2012 NFL Draft. Prospect notes

On October 15, 2011, Broyles broke the NCAA record for career receptions "Ryan Broyles breaks receptions record"

Three weeks later, tragedy struck when his senior-year ended in a game against Texas A&M. Broyles tore the ACL in his left knee on November 5, 2011, ending his college career, and preventing him from being able to participate in either the Senior Bowl, or the NFL Combine. This was Broyles second significant injury, as he suffered a broken collarbone during 2008 spring practice.

Broyles will not resume running full speed until May after tearing his left ACL in early November. Source: Joe Schad on Twitter

This is what Tony Pauline of CNNSI and had to say after the injury:

The torn knee ligament suffered by Sooner receiver Ryan Broyles, which ended his college career, will undoubtedly hurt his draft stock. The OU senior, who bypassed last April's draft in order to return to Norman, was slotted into the early part of the second round based on his play this season. Scouts questioned Broyle's top-end speed but love his precise route-running skills and ability to quickly get into breaks, then separate from defenders. It may be a while before Broyles is able to run sharp routes, and the general consensus on Sunday was the injury will likely push him into the third round.

Read more:

Broyles is likely to find a team in the 3rd or 4th round, and the team that drafts him may get a steal; as not only is Broyles a great receiver but also a stand up guy, having spent the past offseason aiding in the Haiti relief effort. Despite a disappointing return season to OU, in which he was searching for a National Championship, Broyles finished his career with 347 receptions, 4499 yards, and 45 touchdowns.

Although I never agreed with the first round predictions of many, Broyles currently ranks as only the 20th best WR prospect by Wes Bunting (National Football Post) and 23rd by CBSSports', Broyles seems like an excellent investment for a team looking for Wes Welker type of production from the slot WR, and a productive return specialist.

Highlights of Broyles 2010 season

ESPN Game Day feature

Broyles beating future 2013 first round draft pick Xavier Rhodes

Ryan Broyles vs Nebraska (Amakamura and Dennard)

9 catches for 208 yards and 3 touchdowns vs Colorado 2010

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