Repeat after me: Best ... available ... value
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit failed to address its offensive line or the front seven of its defense on the first day of the NFL draft. No one, however, should be surprised.
Lions general manager Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz were steadfast after taking tight end Brandon Pettigrew with the No. 20 overall pick and safety Louis Delmas at No. 33. Lions fans might not want to hear it, but your team did exactly what it said it would do.
"We stuck to our core values about looking for value in the draft," Mayhew said. "We weren't tempted to go offense or defense. We felt like we would take the best player. We took the best player both times."
I don't have much of a problem with the Delmas pick. A playmaking safety can quickly stabilize a defense, especially if your inside players are letting ball carriers bust through the line. The Lions still have needs at middle linebacker and defensive tackle, but Schwartz insisted there were no saviors available when the Lions came on the clock.
"We didn't feel there was a guy there that fit the profile that we wanted," Schwartz said. "You can't try to reach and fit square pegs into round holes. My hat is off to the scouts, to Martin. I thought we did an outstanding job of not trying to create a player: 'Well, we need this, so let's move this guy up ahead.' I'm very happy with how we've started this draft. And again, it's just the start of this draft."
Pettigrew, however, is another story. Mayhew and Schwartz both noted his exceptional blocking ability, seeming to make the argument that a good blocking tight end can help an offensive line almost as much as a lineman himself. But even if Pettigrew immediately becomes the best blocking tight end in the NFL, is that attribute alone worth the No. 20 pick in the draft?
Pettigrew caught 42 passes last season at Oklahoma State, but I don't know that anyone believes he will be a vertical threat in the passing game. So in essence the Lions got an exceptional edge blocker during a part of the draft when other teams are looking for starting linemen, linebackers and receivers. You could have a pretty good debate about Pettigrew's value at No. 20 in that context.