Lions ignore defensive needs with first two picks

(Ric Tapia /

The Lions drafted TE Brandon Pettigrew with their second selection in the first round. (Ric Tapia /

With so many holes on a leaky defense which finished near the bottom of the league in at least five major categories in 2008, the Detroit Lions went wild selecting two offensive players in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft.

After taking QB Matthew Stafford with the first overall pick, the Lions ignored the interior areas on defense to draft TE Brandon Pettigrew with their second selection in the first round.

Twenty years ago, the Lions took Oklahoma State RB Barry Sanders in the first round and now Pettigrew leaves Stillwater for Motown, looking to help the Lions achieve the miraculous.

“I look forward to playing with some of the other young and talented players on offense with the Lions,” said Pettigrew.

Pettigrew was viewed as the best tight end in the 2009 draft largely because of his all-around talent and willingness to block in the run game. He often asked his college coaches to run the ball behind him during critical moments.

“I would always ask my coaches to allow me to make the key blocks when we needed to gain yards at important times during our games,” Pettigrew said.

Lions RB Kevin Smith will be happy to have a blocking TE like Pettigrew, but Stafford will be equally pleased when he witnesses the ease in which Pettigrew catches the ball and dominates between the hash marks in the passing game. He has soft hands and is capable of creating yards after the catch. Pettigrew is a blue-collar player now playing in a blue-collar town, where the Lions hope their days at the bottom of the Black and Blue division have come to an end.

— Solomon Wilcots is reporting from Detroit

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