NFL DRAFT: THE TIGHT ENDS

Former Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew is widely projected to be the first tight end selected in the 2009 NFL Draft. The NFL Draft is scheduled to be held April 25-26 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

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Former Oklahoma State Tight End Brandon Pettigrew Could be Top Draftee at Position
INDIANAPOLIS – For Brandon Pettigrew, the choice came down to a simple factor.

Not that the tight end from Oklahoma State University said the decision to remain in school was simple. Far from it.

But the final decision . . .

Well, he said, that was fairly straightforward.

"I figured I couldn't ruin anything by coming back," said Pettigrew, projected by many to be the top tight end in the 2009 NFL Draft, which will be held April 25-26 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

"Another year of getting better is how I look at it."

Pettigrew, in the eyes of many NFL Draft analysts, was right.

Because although he statistically didn't have as big a season as he had had previously, he still is widely projected as a first-round selection in the NFL Draft. He is widely regarded as the only player at the position expected to be selected in the first round this season.

"He's a classic tight end," Oklahoma State tight ends coach Doug Meacham told the Oklahoma City Oklahoman in October.

Meacham said when he says "classic," he means a player with ability to block and catch rather than the smaller, "third-receiver" tight ends who have become more common in college and the NFL in recent seasons.

"In today's game, you see a lot of tight ends that split out the majority of the time," Meacham said. "Brandon can go down inside and grind it out with the best of 'em, then he can get out and mismatch safeties. He's an every-down guy."

Pettigrew (6-feet-5, 263 pounds), who considered foregoing his senior season, has been projected most often somewhere between selection Nos. 20 and 32, with many analysts projecting him at No. 24 to the Atlanta Falcons.

Pettigrew, who is considered by many analysts a player with potential who has not yet refined his game, said the senior season was valuable.

"I gained more experience," Pettigrew said.

Pettigrew said this at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February and did so despite a difficult senior year in which he missed the first four games of the season with a high-ankle sprain. He didn't catch a touchdown pass as a senior and didn't make first- or second-team All-Big 12.

Still, he said, he didn't regret returning.

"Once you make a decision, you gotta stick with it," Pettigrew said. "You can't look back in regret. The ankle happened. Nothing I could do about it. . .

"It didn't work out for me. But I'm a team guy. It didn't bother me much. I'm about getting the wins."

Pettigrew, who caught 35 passes for 540 yards and four touchdowns as a junior, caught 42 for 472 yards and no touchdowns this past season, but he said he improved in area as a senior not necessarily reflected statistically.

"I gained more experience – got to play against more different guys, got to work on more technique and got a little bit stronger," he said.

And while Pettigrew has the size and speed of a prototype, block-and-receive tight end, he said during the combine that although he is a solid blocker compared to many collegiate tight ends, he likely will need to improve in that area as a professional.

"I think I blocked well at the college level," Pettigrew said, "but I know that I'm going to have to pick it up to play in this league. Guys are bigger, faster, stronger than they were in college. I think that does set me apart. I try to be the most complete tight end that I can. I try to be able to do both.

"That's a big deal to me. I like to do both (block and catch)."

Because he can, most analysts believe Pettigrew has separated himself from a class of tight ends that otherwise lacks a big-time first-round selection. Cornelius Ingram of Florida was projected as a first-round possibility by many before a preseason knee injury, and after a solid Pro Day, he is again a first-day possibility.

As for Ingram, he said whether his name is indeed called at the end of the first round or if he slips to the second is something out of his control.

"I hope that I go first round, but I'll be blessed wherever I go," he said.

BREAKING DOWN THE 2009 NFL DRAFT'S TOP TIGHT ENDS

Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew is considered the lone tight end worthy of a first-round selection, although Cornelius Ingram of Florida was considered a first-round possibility until missing his senior season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He reedly performed well at his Pro Day in Gainesville. Missouri tight end Chase Coffman, who underwent foot surgery recently, and early-entry junior Jared Cook of South Carolina are also widely considered first-day possibilities.

ON THE COLTS' ROSTER

Dallas Clark, seventh season, Iowa; Gijon Robinson, second season, Missouri Western State; Jacob Tamme, second season, Kentucky; Tom Santi, second season, Virginia; Jamie Petrowksi, second season, Indiana State.

THE LAST FIVE

The last five tight ends drafted by the Colts . . .

2008: Tom Santi, sixth round, Virginia.

2008: Jacob Tamme, fourth round, Kentucky.

2004: Ben Hartsock, third round, Ohio State.

2003: Dallas Clark, first round, Iowa.

1996: Scott Slutzker, third round, Iowa.

THIS YEAR'S DRAFT

An alphabetical list of 20 tight ends expected to be selected in the 2009 NFL Draft . . .

Travis Beckum, Wisconsin, 6-3, 245

Marquez Branson, Central Arkansas, 6-2, 245

Jared Bronson, Central Washington, 6-4, 255

Chase Coffman, Missouri, 6-6, 245

Jared Cook, South Carolina, 6-5, 245

James Casey, Rice, 6-3, 245

Davon Drew, East Carolina, 6-4, 255

Anthony Hill, North Carolina, 6-5, 260

Darius Hill, Ball State, 6-6, 245

Cornelius Ingram, Florida, 6-4, 245

Dan Gronkowski, Maryland, 6-5, 255

Branden Ledbetter, Western Michigan, 6-5, 245

Zach Miller, Nebraska-Omaha, 6-4, 235

Cameron Morrah, California, 6-3, 245

Shawn Nelson, Southern Miss., 6-5, 240

Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State, 6-5, 265

John Phillips, Virginia, 6-5, 250

Richard Quinn, North Carolina, 6-4, 265

Bear Pascoe, Fresno State, 6-5?, 250

Ryan Purvis, Boston College, 6-4, 255

Kory Sperry, Colorado St., 6-5, 240

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