Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson breaks down the tight ends of each NFC North team. Today: Detroit Lions.
Brandon Pettigrew's 2010 receiving numbers might inflate his true value as a receiving option, but he does have the look of a very reliable and tough intermediate option in the middle of the field. His presence could be huge for Matthew Stafford's development. Pettigrew should find plenty of favorable matchups in the middle and near the goal line with all the attention Detroit’s other weapons will attract. Still, he isn’t overly dynamic. There is a lot to like about Pettigrew’s game, though.
He is well-built and powerful and shows those qualities after the catch, and especially as a blocker. As young tight ends go, Pettigrew is an exceptional blocker. He can uproot defensive ends in the run game and certainly holds his own in protection. Shaun Hill, who has a much weaker arm than Stafford, tended to favor Pettigrew, but Stafford might throw to the perimeter and downfield more than his backup did a year ago.
Tony Scheffler is a much different type of tight end, but he and Pettigrew should complement each other very well. Scheffler moves well and does very good work away from the formation, where he can run wide receiver routes, often against linebackers. Unlike Pettigrew, Scheffler is not a very physical player and won’t get much done as an inline blocker. Detroit should continue to use a lot of double-tight-end sets with Scheffler and Pettigrew in the game together.
Will Heller contributed very little last season. Heller, an older veteran, is a third tight end at best and a special teams contributor.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com. Follow Matt Williamson on Twitter @WilliamsonNFL