Ask most NFL talent evaluators about Ryan Broyles and you are likely to get an answer very similar to this one from longtime Bills and Colts general manager Bill Polian.

“I love Broyles” he said. “He’s got a chance to be really special.”

But when you ask why the answers get a little more nebulous.

“He’s just really special” Polian said.

Broyles isn’t the biggest slot receiver (5-10 188) and he’s certainly not the fastest running on a pair of surgically-repaired knees. Heck he may not even have the best moves in his own home. His wife Mary Beth put on quite a show at the Tigers’ Dancing with the All-Stars charity dance contest last week.

“Oh she took it over” Broyles said. “Like it was game day.”

Yet Broyles is the NCAA’s all-time leader in receptions (349) and second in receiving yards (4586). The Lions were so keen on him they took him the second round even though he senior season ended with a torn ACL.

Watch him during training camp and you would never know he is just eighth-plus months out of his second ACL surgery. His route-running is fluid and precise and his ability to find open spaces in the defense is uncanny.

Maybe the best word to describe him is stealth.

“I don’t know” Broyles said. “I just try to find a way. I’ve been playing since I was 8 and it’s been a thing I’ve always done. I just work with the ability God has given me; just try to do the best I can with what I was blessed with.”

Coach Jim Schwartz had the familiar initial response when asked what it was that made Broyles so effective — “I don’t really know.” Receivers coach Tim Lappano took a pretty good stab at it though.

“I think No. 1 he really understands the game” he said. “Ryan’s a smart football player. He understands the concept of running routes how to set the defenders and how to use his technique. I would call him a savvy route runner with good speed not great speed — he’s a savvy crafty route runner that has a nice niche inside and a good feel for that inside area to slip in and out of zones and defeat man coverage as well.”

There was a play during an 11-on-11 period Sunday that epitomized what makes Broyles so sneaky good. He ran a simple slant route from the slot and at the moment quarterback Matthew Stafford released the pass he was well-covered.