When Justin Pugh started playing football at Syracuse University, his teammates nicknamed him “Pugh-ney.” The 6-foot-4, 310-pound offensive tackle, recently selected by the New York Giants with the 19th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, says now “it’s more of a joke than reality.” Pugh was the seventh offensive lineman taken in the first round.
Pugh is a much-needed addition to the Giants aging offensive line. For one, the Giants have only one starting offensive lineman, Will Beatty, under the age of 30. Additionally, Dave Baas fought through injuries last year and Chris Snee is coming off of hip surgery. Pugh will add a youthful energy and spirit to this group, and could be the first addition in a new wave of offensive lineman that come to play for New York in the next several seasons.
In terms of the skills he brings to the table, Pugh has excellent range and great feet for someone of his stature. Many think he can play a variety of positions on the offensive line, which could be crucial to the Giants if some of his teammates struggle with injuries late in the season.
In his senior season, Pugh was named first-team all-Big East. He was also instrumental in leading Syracuse to set many school records, including total offense and passing yards.
One of the most positive aspects of selecting Pugh is that his experience and skill will allow him to play right away. That’s nearly a requirement for Giants GM Jerry Reese, who believes the days of sitting draft picks for an extended period of time are “dwindling away.”
A common criticism of Pugh is that his arms are too short. He isn’t fazed by it—and neither are the Giants, who surprised some by selecting him midway through the first round.
A much bigger concern for the Giants may be that Pugh is, well, a Philadelphia Eagles fan. When asked how he would react to being selected by the Giants’ NFC East Rival, he remarked, “That’d be unreal.”
All kidding aside, look for Pugh to step in next year and immediately make an impact.