Paul Sancya/Associated Press
The Lions didn't draft Eric Ebron with a desire to replace Brandon Pettigrew. Frankly, Ebron doesn't have the skill set.
Yet it should send the message that Pettigrew's receiving skills aren't highly valued anymore.
The presence of Ebron, Pettigrew, Joseph Fauria and Michael Williams makes for an extremely crowded depth chart at tight end. While Pettigrew's four-year contract makes him safe this year, he will only be carrying $3 million in dead money after this season.
This means Detroit could cut ties with him cheaply if he doesn't step it up.
The message might seem a bit muddled with all the talk regarding Ebron holding down the Jimmy Graham role and Pettigrew handling the more traditional duties. And out of every player on this particular list, Pettigrew seems the best bet to last.
However, his blocking might not save him. Broken down to his numbers, Pettigrew hasn't been making the grade. While his overall PFF metric improved from -8.4 to -8.0, his run-blocking score tumbled 6.5 points to a terrible -9.1.
If he can't hold onto the ball (he has 13 drops the past two years) and he isn't blocking, why is he beating out the above-mentioned Williams?
Even if he does, it's much easier to find a blocking tight end than an athletic one that can line up all over the field.