Brandon Pettigrew: What Will His Immediate Impact on the Offense Be?


Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan recently indicated that brand new first-round tighet end Brandon Pettigrew could have an impact on both the passing game and rushing game next year. This begs the questions: how much of an immediate impact does a first-round tight end typically have on the rushing game and the passing game?

The answer? Not much on either account. All other things being equal, teams who have drafted a tight end in the first-round have see their passing games improve by only 29.5 total yards and its rushing games by only 17.9. I was initially surprised at how insignificant the changes were, but the history bears it out.

It is true that, with a big season, a rookie tight end can have a large impact on his team's offense. Jeremy Shockey had 894 receiving yards as a rookie, and the Giants' passing yards increased by 393 and their rushing yards increased by 98 over the previous season. However, Shockey is the exception rather than the rule. On the other hand, Kellen Winslow, tied with Vernon Davis as the most highly drafted tight end of the last two decades, had no immediate impact on his offense's fortunes. Kellen Winslow's Browns actually got slightly worse: with their passing game dipping by 10 yards and their rushing totals decreasing by 13 yards. Although that is hardly a surprising result considering that Kellen Winslow was hurt most of the season, there are plenty of healthy rookie tight ends who have had similar results.

There is a much more powerful force at work here that actually works in the Detroit Lions' favor: regression to the mean. In other words, teams who have great seasons passing and rushing tend to have less spectacular seasons the following year, just as teams who have poor seasons passing and rushing totals tend to improve. The Detroit Lions, unsurprisingly, fared poorly in both metrics: garnering 2960 yards passing and 1332 yards rushing. Based solely on their performance last season and the miniscule "tight end bump," regression to the mean would bring the Detroit Lions to 3196 yards passing and 1619 yards rushing. And it doesn't even cost a high-round draft pick.



©2009 The "Goodbye, Ladies" Draft Report | Template Blue by TNB