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Jamal Pettigrew UDFA profile

In the same draft where the Detroit Lions selected Matthew Stafford with the first overall selection, Detroit drafted a TE later in the first round, Brandon Pettigrew. Detroit got that pick as part of the infamous Roy Williams trade with Dallas. Pettigrew had some good seasons early in his career and looked like he was going to be a very good TE, but then he declined. He suffered what proved to be a career ending knee injury in a game against the Rams in 2015.

Having the same last name might be the only thing Rams UDFA tight end, Jamal Pettigrew, has in common with Brandon Pettigrew. To my eye, Jamal Pettigrew is a big longshot to make it in the NFL. He's not a good football player. He reminds me of Levonta Taylor, the former Rams UDFA defensive back from Florida State who once was a top high school recruit. Taylor didn't even make an NFL practice squad and currently is on a CFL roster. The CFL season starts in June.

Jamal Pettigrew was a 4 star recruit, ranked by Scout.com as the 7th best TE recruit in the nation. He had offers from several big name schools, including Alabama, Michigan, Florida and Texas. At LSU, he was only a backup and made little impact. In 4 seasons at LSU (he missed one year due to a knee injury), he had a grand total of one reception that went for positive yardage. With another elite TE recruit coming to LSU in 2020, it didn't look like Pettigrew would get any playing time. He transferred to an FCS school, McNeese State and played for them in the spring and fall of 2021. In 7 games in the spring, he had 18 catches for 132 yards and 1 TD. In 11 games in the fall, he had 7 catches for 92 yards and 1 TD. He was only 9th on the team in receiving yards last season.

When a player has an NFL type of body and athleticism, but is only a mediocre player at the FCS level, that should immediately set off alarm bells and red flags. Jamal Pettigrew has underachiever traits. Unless he wakes up and dedicates himself to being a better player, I think he has almost no chance of making it in the NFL.

Background

6'6 1/2'' tall, 244 pounds, 33 3/4'' arms, 10 1/4'' hands, 80 1/4'' wingspan

4.84 sec (40 time, another source listed his 2 attempts at 4.67 and 4.77 seconds), 1.70 sec (10 yard split), 36.5'' vert jump, 9'9'' broad jump, 20 bench reps, 4.55 sec (shuttle), 7.3 sec (3 cone)

From New Orleans. Top 10 TE recruit in high school. ACL injury in summer of 2018, missed entire season (3rd year at LSU.) He only had 2 catches at LSU. He had one catch for 18 yards in 2017, then he had another catch for negative one yards in 2019. Was part of the undefeated National Championship team in 2019 with Joe Burrow. Thad Moss (UDFA 2020) was the primary TE that year. Stephen Sullivan (late 7th round 2020) was a backup TE.

The following year, LSU signed a 5 star TE recruit, one of the top players in the nation, Arik Gilbert (who has since transferred to UGA) and it didn't look like Pettigrew would be in the regular rotation for LSU. He transferred to McNeese State, where he played in 7 games in the spring of 2021 and 11 games last fall. He as a 6th year bonus senior last season.

24 years old. Listed at 6'7'' and 247 pounds last year.

Chad Reuter ranked him as the 21st best available UDFA tight end. Not ranked by Drafttek or by Lance Zierlein.

Strengths

Tall, big body.

Decent athletic testing scores relative to his size.

Large wingspan and available catch radius.

Played Y tight end, lined up in-line, sometimes also in slot. Blocked in line.

Exploded into 3rd down, short yardage, heads up run block.

Will finish some blocks aggressively and with physicality.

Solid upper body strength.

Made a couple of catches next to the sideline.

Size helped him get extra yards after catch when a defender bounced off him and wasn't able to make the tackle.

An NFL team might only care about his raw physical tools and consider all of the rest to be fixable, since it is theoretically almost all technique and coaching. A lump of clay with developmental upside.

Weaknesses

Commits silly penalties due to lack of concentration and focus. False started. Blocking penalty for blocking too early on screen pass. Slow to react after some snaps.

Footwork entering his block fit is not detailed. Takes horrible angles into his block fits, clueless trying to find the blocking angle. Confused who to block on some plays. Poor hand placements. Not able to consistently get hands inside. Hips not at proper angle to seal defenders. Doesn't protect his inside gap against penetration on zone runs.

Consistently fails to protect the blocking angle to sustain blocks, even when blocking CBs. Doesn't slide feet well laterally to sustain blocks.

Lunges into blocks, doesn't stay centered. Sloppy body positioning. Helmet too far forward. Unstable base as blocker, robbing him of play strength. Plays narrow as blocker, not able to generate movement and drive into the defender. Poor core strength. Not good as a move blocker. Sloppy block on the move, just glances off the defender.

Gave up penetration in short yardage play near GL.

Destroyed on solo pass block on 3rd down, poor initial step, then lunges and is beaten around his outside edge. Poor lateral mirror vs DE on pass block and beaten to inside.

Completely unable to create any separation. Terrible route runner. No burst or fluidity. Runs in and out of breaks like an old lady. Slow getting off of the LOS. The rare catches he has are almost all system catches where he's wide open. Gives away direction of break early with his lean and body positioning. Poor pivot route. Dull and lethargic in and out of breaks.

Shaky, unreliable hands catching the ball, doesn't have natural hands. Dropped pass right in his bread basket.

Limited ability to add YAC. Carries the ball loosely after the catch, vulnerable to having it knocked out of his hands.

"Incarnate Word gamer". Had virtually zero production at LSU and at McNeese State nearly half of his receiving yardage came in 2 games against Incarnate Word. Outside of that one opponent, he had almost no receiving production in his entire college career.

Gives away the play by staring pre-snap across the formation at the player he's going to block.

Poor stamina. Gets tired and plays even worse when fatigued, taps out and asks to come out of games. Hands on hips, breathing hard.

Doesn't play to the whistle. If he fails at initial block attempt, sometimes will just stand and watch instead of looking for work and making a 2nd attempt to block someone. Doesn't uncover to help his QB. Sometimes has a lazy play demeanor on field.

Didn't appear to play special teams at McNeese State.

Had a serious knee injury.

No signs of progress or development in fall of 2021 compared to spring. Not getting any better, no signs that he's been working on his game and has an upward trajectory.

Two years older than an average draft prospect.

Rams Outlook

There is a potential practice squad spot available for a TE, so there is at least a glimmer of hope for Pettigrew. Just add a few more pounds on Pettigrew, is there much difference between him and Kendall Blanton? So, if Blanton can make it (at least in a limited sense), why not Pettigrew? He has the size that NFL coaches want at the TE position.

I'm not optimistic that Jamal Pettigrew is going to take advantage of the opportunity he has with the Rams. He doesn't play consistently either as a blocker or as a receiver. He has the looks of a guy destined for the XFL or USFL and might struggle to win a job even at that level.