Lions could go for a tight end in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft

Posted Apr 2, 2013

With both Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler in the final year of their contracts, could the Lions be looking toward this year's draft to bring in another tight end?

Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler combined for 1,071 yards on 101 receptions last season. Supplement that with Will Heller’s 17 catches and 150 yards, and the Lions recorded more than 1,200 yards of production from the tight end position in 2012.
Brandon PettigrewTE Brandon Pettigrew

But despite all of that production in terms of yardage, the trio combined for just five touchdowns, which was fewer than 15 other teams in the league.

In fact, there were nine tight ends that scored more touchdowns as individual players than the Lions' trio.

The production has always been there from the Pettigrew and Scheffler, but what the Lions need now are more of the big plays – the touchdowns and the explosive receptions of 20-plus yards or more. Scheffler had six such plays in 2012 and Pettigrew three.

New tight ends coach Bobby Johnson likes what he sees in both Pettigrew and Scheffler. Coming from Jacksonville, Johnson compared Pettigrew to former Pro Bowl tight end Marcedes Lewis, whom he coached in Jacksonville.

In Scheffler, Johnson said the Lions have a multidimensional weapon who’s a tough matchup for defenses.

"I get enjoyment out of guys progressing and getting better and reaching their goals," Johnson told this offseason. "It'll be one of the first conversations I have with each guy. I'll ask them, 'Where do you want to go? I want to find a way to help you get there.'"

The Lions would like more stops in the end zone to be on that destination list, certainly.

Pettigrew and Scheffler are under contract for the 2013 season, but it's the final year of each players' deal. Heller is already a free agent this offseason and remains unsigned. The possibility certainly exists the Lions look to the middle and late rounds of the draft to bring in another tight end with the uncertain future of the position.

Ideally, they’d like someone with the versatility to be a receiver, play an H-back role and be a blocker.

Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said he’ll never stop trying to find weapons to surround quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Calvin Johnson.

That statement wasn't restricted to just receivers and running backs. It also applies to the tight end position -- even with a good combination already in place in Pettigrew and Scheffler.