By Dave Birkett — Detroit Free Press
The Lions have gotten less production from their first two picks in April’s draft than just about any other team in the NFL.
First-rounder Riley Reiff has played nine offensive snaps as an extra tackle in the Lions’ first four games, and second-rounder Ryan Broyles is still waiting for his first NFL catch.
Broyles acknowledged he’s somewhat frustrated with his role as the No. 4 receiver Tuesday — “It’s not good when I can count the (snaps I’ve played),” he said — but Lions coach Jim Schwartz is preaching patience with his eight-man rookie class.
“A lot of times you get graded on a rookie class right after the draft and then you’re graded at the end of the year,” Schwartz said. “I think it’s probably a little too much to be grading those guys after four games. I think we have some very good players in that class, and I think all those guys are going to help us. I think time will bear that out.”
Reiff, the 23rd overall pick out of Iowa, has seen his role increase in recent weeks. If the Lions’ struggles on their veteran front continue, he’d be a natural solution at either guard or tackle.
After playing one offensive snap each of the first two weeks, Reiff was on the field for five plays including a penalty in a Week.4 loss to the Vikings. He’s played well but unspectacularly overall, cut-blocking Jared Allen on a 5-yard end-around by Titus Young and firing late off the line on one pass play.
“He’s got some experience, but he’s learning the NFL and he’s doing a very good job,” Schwartz said. “He’s improving every single day, not just in his physical technique but also his knowledge of what we do on offense, and we’re going to be very happy with him.”
Broyles has appeared in just two games so far and made his biggest headlines for sitting alone on the bench while his offensive teammates were on the field in a Week.2 loss to the 49ers.
He was inactive for the opener, dressed but did not play at San Francisco, played 17 snaps but wasn’t targeted once when tight end Tony Scheffler was out in a Week.3 loss to the Titans and saw the field just three times last week against the Vikings.
“You just got to take it how it comes,” Broyles said. “I’m a positive person, so I’m going to continue to work so when I do get my opportunities I got to seize the moment. This isn’t how I expected it, but coming off (a torn ACL) a lot of people said you won’t be back for a year, so definitely getting drafted to a team like this that doesn’t really need receivers, it just shows they have a plan for me in the future and whenever that time comes I’m going to be ready.”
Of the 13 other teams who picked in the back half of April’s first round — the Bengals and Patriots had two picks — the 49ers and Steelers are the only teams whose top two choices have seen less playing time.
Neither of San Francisco’s top picks — first-round receiver A.J. Jenkins and second-round running back LaMichael James — has played this year, and Pittsburgh has gotten few contributions from its first two picks, offensive linemen David DeCastro and Mike Adams.
Adams, like Reiff, has played as an extra blocker and on special teams, while DeCastro was slated to start at guard until he suffered a torn MCL in the preseason.
The Lions have gotten three starts with mixed results from third-round cornerback Bill Bentley, and mostly special-teams help from the rest of their rookies.
Bentley has 12 tackles in three games, but also has been flagged three times for pass interference and once for defensive holding. He worked with the second team at right cornerback behind Jacob Lacey on Tuesday.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football