TE Brandon Pettigrew (Oklahoma State) - Round 1, Pick No. 20
With both Michael Oher and Rey Maualuga available when the Lions went on the clock again in the first-round of the draft, nearly all fans expected that the need for a left tackle or middle linebacker would be taken care of. When the pick was announced, however, fans were shocked to learn that the Lions actually took care of their need at the tight end position. Detroit drafted Brandon Pettigrew, the top tight end in the draft, much to the dismay of many fans at the time. As the move really started to sink in, though, fans, myself included, began warming up to the pick. After all, Pettigrew is a top talent at his position, and the Lions did need a TE. While the initial reaction was negative to this pick based on who else was still available, there is no doubt that the Lions upgraded their TE corps by selecting Pettigrew.
Best trait per Scouts Inc.:
Better blocker than most at his position. Big frame with long arms and big hands. Good overall strength for a TE. Is able to anchor at the point of attack when he stays low. Displays good upper-body power for the position and flashes a mean streak. Does a good job with his first step. He is a more effective blocker in-line than he is in space, though. He needs to be more consistent with his technique in space, rather than looking to bury the defender with his initial pop.
POSITIVES: Physically talented tight end with a complete game. Nimble athlete who quickly releases off the line, runs well laterally, and adjusts to the errant throw, making the reception in stride. Nicely settles into the open spot on the field, extends his hands, and makes the reception away from his frame. Plays faster than his 40 time, effective running after the reception, and a sturdy pass catcher who takes a pounding yet holds onto the ball. Blocks with good lean, and bends his knees. Works to stays square, strong at the point, and effective as a position blocker. Quickly gets out to the second level, and easily controls linebackers.
NEGATIVES: Shows marginal quickness to his game. Must learn to keep his blocking intensity until the whistle blows. Not a true downfield threat as a pass catcher.
Final word: On the field, Pettigrew is a complete tight end, similar to Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys. He has tremendous size and natural athleticism. He does, however, need to improve from a technical and route running standpoint. The interview process will also be key for Pettigrew, who had a run-in with the law.
Outlook for 2009
With the release of Michael Gaines, the Lions are sending a clear message that Brandon Pettigrew should be a starter from day one. There is no real reason to believe he won't start, as he is a perfect fit in Jim Schwartz's offensive mindset of running the ball thanks to his blocking skills. What's more, Scott Linehan loves to utilize his tight ends, so it would not surprise me if Pettigrew became a big part of the Lions' receiving game from the very start of his career.