This article is part of a series in which Pro Football Weekly features scouting reports on the top five draft prospects at each position, as published in the 2009 Draft Preview book.
1. TE Brandon Pettigrew, #87
(6-5 3⁄8, 263, 4.81) Oklahoma State
Notes: Redshirted in 2004. Played in all 11 games in ’05, starting nine and catching 11 passes for 128 yards (11.6-yard average) with one touchdown. Started all 13 games in ’06, grabbing 24-310-4 (12.9). Also started all 13 games in ’07, grabbing 35-540-4 (15.4). Arrested in January ’08 on complaints of assaulting a police officer and public intoxication. According to the police report, Pettigrew was given multiple chances to leave an early-morning fight between “10 to 15” people. The only participant arrested, he refused to depart and was uncooperative, allegedly cursing the police officers and elbowing one officer in the chest. He was charged with felony assault and battery on a police officer, as well as a misdemeanor public intoxication charge. In June ’08, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery and misdemeanor public intoxication and received 20 hours of community service and a deferred sentence upon completion of a one-year probation. Started all 10 games in which he played in ’08, hauling in 42-472-0 (11.2). Missed three games with a sprained right ankle. Sustained a hit to the head against Colorado, returned to action, and dislocated a finger. Team captain.
Positives: Looks the part with very long arms and big mitts and a frame to add another 15 pounds. Uses his hands well to control blockers. Shows some nastiness and consistently plays hard. Can bury defenders into the ground. Wants to dominate and does. Nice pop and power. Can eliminate linebackers at the second level. Can power upfield after the catch and plow through tacklers. Character is solid despite one incident. Has a passion for the game and plays hard.
Negatives: Lacks great downfield speed and is still raw as a route runner. Appears a bit methodical as a route runner and could improve getting in and out of breaks quickly. Not quick up the field after the catch. Is late to react to the thrown ball. Is a bit naïve, and could take some time to digest a complex playbook.
Summary: Did not have a great workout at the Combine, but is a much better football player than he is an athlete and a team will know exactly what it is getting by drafting him. Could be one of the most dominant in-line blockers in the league the minute he is drafted and will help make a running game go. Fits the mold of the typical Pittsburgh Steelers-type tight end and does everything well. A solid, all-around complete player in a similar mold to Steelers 1990 21st overall pick Eric Green.
Grade: First-round talent.
2. TE/H-back Cornelius Ingram, #7
(6-3 7⁄8, 245, 4.66) Florida
Notes: A high school quarterback, Ingram also lettered in basketball as a prep. Redshirted in 2004. Played in 19 games for the Florida basketball team during the 2004-05 season. Moved to tight end in ’05 after seeing action in two games: as a quarterback against Louisiana Tech and as a receiver against Iowa in the Outback Bowl. Rushed twice for eight yards (4.0-yard average). Started 2-of-14 games (Central Florida, Ohio State) in ’06, catching 30 passes for 380 yards (12.7-yard average) and one touchdown. Started 5-of-13 games (Tennessee, LSU, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Florida Atlantic) in ’07, catching 34-508-7 (14.9) despite battling an ankle sprain against Georgia, Vanderbilt and South Carolina. Missed the ’08 spring game due to a sprained ankle, then suffered a torn left ACL during fall camp and did not play in ’08. Team captain.
Positives: Has soft, natural hands with long arms and terrific athletic ability. Plays tough. Can take a hit. Great competitor. Shows enough speed to threaten the seam. Creates mismatches — is able to outrun linebackers and outsize defensive backs. Willing to lower his shoulder and drive through defenders but also quick enough to outmaneuver defenders in space. Easily adjusts to off-target throws. Good leaping ability — will go up and catch in traffic. Has the competitive make-up to contribute as a blocker.
Negatives: Does not have natural girth. Not a polished route runner — wastes too much movement avoiding contact and takes himself off pattern. Not quick upfield after the catch and does not show a top gear. Struggles to sink his hips and separate. Was seldom used to block in an offense that does not feature a true tight end and will require a lot of technique work blocking in-line. Is still raw and may require a longer adjustment period as a rookie.
Summary: Has the potential to emerge as the best pass-catching TE prospect in this draft class with natural athletic ability and ball skills that cannot be taught. Is built like an NBA power forward and could create a lot of mismatches against linebackers and defensive backs. Durability is the biggest question. Has huge upside.
Grade: Second- to third-round talent.
3. TE/H-back Shawn Nelson, #1
(6-5, 240, 4.56) Southern Mississippi
Notes: Cousin of Chiefs DT Glenn Dorsey. Redshirted in 2004. Played in 12 games in ’05, starting the last 11 and tallying 35 receptions for 540 yards (15.4-yard average) with five touchdowns. Started 12-of-14 games in ’06, catching 36-506-3 (14.1) with three touchdowns. Was suspended for a half against Houston because of a curfew violation. Sprained his ankle against Tulane and also battled a fractured hand late in the season. Played in all 13 games in ’07, starting 12, and hauled in 33-451-5 (13.7). Did not start against Memphis (migraine). In ’08, started 12-of-13 games, recording 53-557-3 (10.5). Tweaked his hamstring during practice, and did not play in the Senior Bowl.
Positives: Good athlete with long arms. Can get vertical and create separation down the seam. Slippery at the line of scrimmage swimming off the jam. Adjusts well to the thrown ball and has good balance in his feet and fine body control. Natural catcher. Showed improvement as a blocker at the Senior Bowl working with Mike Tice and uses his long arms and agility well to compete. Solid downfield blocker. Competitive, four-year starter. Consistent career production. Has good upside.
Negatives: Does not have a big frame and has struggled to bulk up. Needs to spend more time in the weight room and get stronger. Lack of bulk will create some problems matching up with bigger defenders on the line. Does not play with authority in his hands and lacks upper-body strength. Not a polished route runner and could sharpen his cuts and come out of breaks more cleanly. Does not create a lot of yardage after the catch.
Summary: Impressed at the Senior Bowl with his willingness as a blocker and performed well at the Combine. Can develop into a solid all-around tight end with added bulk and physical development.
Grade: Second- to third-round talent.
4. TE Richard Quinn, #89 (junior)
(6-37⁄8, 264, 4.92) North Carolina
Notes: Has a daughter. Spent his first two years of high school in Alabama before moving to Ohio. Also played basketball as a prep. Saw very limited action in nine games as a true freshman in 2005. Redshirted in ’06 after fracturing his right scapula in fall camp. Started 8-of-12 games in ’07, catching four passes for 27 yards (6.8-yard average) and one touchdown. Played in all 13 games in ’08, starting 11, and grabbed 8-97-1 (12.1). Played with a cast on his right hand after breaking a knuckle early in the season. Did not start against Virginia Tech or in the Meineke Car Care Bowl against Virginia Tech, as he gave way to three-receiver formations.
Positives: Has natural girth with a thick frame and really looks the part. Comes off the ball with a good, wide base and shows good hip strength and power to leverage defenders. Strong at the point of attack with good hand use. Understands blocking angles, how to get positioning, work his hips around and hook defenders. Gets to the second level and seals off linebackers. Plays big and can anchor in pass protection. Tough. Improving hands. Good run strength to break tackles after the catch. Solid character. Works hard and takes the game seriously.
Negatives: Was rarely used as a receiver with very limited production. Labors off the line and takes time to get into routes. Not nifty or elusive after the catch and lacks the burst and acceleration to separate or get vertical. Suffered from a case of the drops early in his career. Durability needs to be evaluated.
Summary: Caught the ball extremely well at the Combine despite being greatly underutilized as a receiver in college alongside three legitimate NFL starting-caliber receivers and has excelled as a base blocker. Is big, strong and physical and could turn out to be a better pro than college player. Would be a great fit for a run-first offense such as that of the Dolphins, 49ers or Patriots.
Grade: Second- to third-round pick.
5. TE Jared Cook, #84 (junior)
(6-43⁄4, 246, 4.49) South Carolina
Notes: Also starred in basketball as a prep. Played receiver and safety in high school. Suffered a broken ankle during his junior season. Recruited as a receiver and redshirted in 2005. Tried at tight end in spring ’06 and into the season, but his blocking deficiencies prompted a return to receiver following the Wofford contest. Played in 12 games in ’06, catching six passes for 113 yards (18.8-yard average) and zero touchdowns. Moved back to tight end in ’07, starting 3-of-12 games (South Carolina State, North Carolina and Tennessee) and snagging 30-421-3 (14.0). Sprained his right big toe at the beginning of ’08 fall camp. Managed to play in all 13 games, starting 11 and catching 37-573-3 (15.5). Sprained his right foot against Mississippi and was benched for the second half of the Clemson contest for a lack of effort.
Positives: Has exceptionally long, 353⁄4-inch arms and big hands and can extend outside his frame to pluck it. Can cover a lot of ground with long strides. Natural hands and body control. Solid positional blocker. Has a 41-inch vertical jump and rare leaping ability. Excellent straight-line speed — paced all tight ends with a 4.5 40-time at the Combine. Worked out like a phenom at the Combine.
Negatives: Too gangly. Does not play with awareness — is not quick into his routes, is late to get his head around and react to the thrown ball. Shows marginal awareness against the blitz and little feel for coverage. Not strong and gets knocked off routes. Too often telegraphs his routes and breaks stride to haul in the ball. A bit duck-footed. Runs a lot of simple digs, hitches, drags and pick routes and is seldom used down the field. Seldom separates. Drifts in his routes and does not play fast. Shows little creativity after the catch. Marginal base blocker. Not a finisher. Does not play with urgency. Could take some time to grasp an NFL offense.
Summary: Blew the doors off the Combine with a jaw-dropping performance and very likely will be drafted higher than he grades out on tape because of his rare athletic ability. However, the team that invests highly will have to be very patient and will need to spend a lot of time developing him. A much better athlete than football player, Cook possesses the speed to be a vertical threat even if he was rarely used that way in college and his natural physical talent gives him a great chance to be successful.
Grade: Second- to third-round talent.
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