In 2009, the Lions spent their 20th pick on Brandon Pettigrew from Oklahoma State. Pettigrew started his rookie season off with a slow start. In his first 7 games, Pettigrew only caught 14 passes. Later in the season, ‘Grew had two decent games against Cleveland and Seattle. He recorded 13 catches and 2 touchdowns in the games. Pettigrew injured his knee in the Thanksgiving Classic and the injury required season-ending surgery.
Last year was a big improvement. Pettigrew was healthy again and played in every game for the Lions. He caught 71 passes which was the third most in the entire league for Tight Ends. Also, his 722 yards ranked seventh amongst all TEs. Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez were the two Tight Ends that made the Pro Bowl last year.
I expect Brandon Pettigrew to show even more improvement for this upcoming year (first, we have to make sure we have one). I also expect Pettigrew to earn a trip to his first Pro Bowl. My main reason behind my expectations is the fact that Stafford and ‘Grew only played 3 games together last year and only 11 in the two years combined.
From an article on ProFootballFocus.com:
Although Pettigrew’s catch rate is slightly better when Stafford is inactive, almost every other rate stat is worse. When Stafford is out, Pettigrew sees drop in yards-per-reception, he’s targeted deeper down the field, his YAC rate is over a full yard worse, his TD rate is significantly lower, and his drop rate increases quite a bit.
Another reason for Lion fans to believe that Pettigrew will have a break out year is that he will have more playing time. In 2009, most of the time that Stafford was healthy there was competition at the TE position but he still threw 4 TDs to ‘Grew. Last year Tony Scheffler helped “groom” Pettigrew into the position and the league. Scheffler caught 45 passes last year, expect less this year and more for Pettigrew.
Pro Bowl or not, Brandon Pettigrew will have a major impact on the 2011 season.