The Detroit Lions took tight end Brandon Pettigrew 20th overall in the 2009 draft. Nine picks earlier, the Buffalo Bills spent their first round pick on defensive end Aaron Maybin. Eight picks after the Lions selected Pettigrew, the Bills spent their second first round pick on guard Eric Wood.
Many predicted Pettigrew could be a target for the Bills at 28. Strong, athletic, fast, and labeled a "complete tight end" coming out of Oklahoma State, the Bills could have filled a rather large hole at the position. Instead, Detroit plucked Pettigrew and the Bills settled for Shawn Nelson in the fourth round.
Since entering the league two years ago, Pettigrew has grown with his classmate QB Matthew Stafford. Pettigrew started 11 games for the Lions a year ago, and all eight of his team's games this year. In 2009, he finished fifth on his team in receptions and yards and scored two touchdowns. This season, he has already eclipsed all of his marks from his rookie season. He is currently third on the team in receptions with 38, trailing Jahvid Best by three and Calvin Johnson by a single reception. His 362 yards and three touchdowns are second.
Not only has Pettigrew been consistent, he is stretching the field for Lions QBs. In his rookie year, he averaged 11.5 yards per reception, and in 2010 is going for 9.5 yards a clip.
Against the Bills this week, Pettigrew could have a huge game. The Bills have been awful against tight ends this season allowing Greg Olsen, Todd Heap, Marcedes Lewis, Dustin Keller, Aaron Hernandez, and Jermichael Finley to have big days and score touchdowns.
Nelson, the Bills' consolation prize, has come nowhere near Pettigrew's production. He was suspended for the first four games of the season by the NFL and has 19 receptions in 14 games. His lone touchdown came in his NFL debut.