New York Giants fans are scratching their heads after last night’s draft. When the four-time Super Bowl winning team made its 2013 first round NFL draft selection, Radio City Music Hall got as quiet as a Ashram – for a few seconds anyway.
The Giants selected Justin Pugh, not athletic SEC linebacker Alec Ogletree.
Not Tyler Eifert, Björn Werner or Desmond Trufant. They drafted Justin Pugh, the second-lowest graded draft selection in the first round at 73.0, according to NFL.com. People might as well have been saying Justin Who?
Still, the move shows a team desperate to replenish its aging offensive line particularly as its best member mulls retirement. It also seems to represent a huge reach for need, which is atypical for GM Jerry Reese and the Giants, which typically selects the best player available, regardless of position.
The Big Blue front office seems to feel good about the selection, however.
“He’s not perfect, but he’s a really good player,” said Reese to Tom Rock of Newsday. “I think you win with solid football players.”
Pugh’s one glaring imperfection is that he lacks the requisite arm length desirable for a starting-caliber offensive tackle. His 32-inch arms are considered short for the position.
“We don’t think his arm length hinders him on tape,” said Marc Ross, Giants’ Director of College Scouting. Ross believes Pugh’s balance, technique, intelligence and foot movement compensates for those arms. What the Giants front offense seems to praise is the kid’s versatility.
“Most of these guys are what they are – they’re a right tackle, they’re a center,” said Ross, according to New York Post writer Paul Schwartz. “This guy is the most versatile offensive lineman in our eyes. Other teams may feel differently, but that’s the way we felt, that he was the most versatile.”
The Syracuse left tackle is capable of playing four of the five positions on the offensive line. Many believe Pugh will eventually play guard, where he will provide an excellent contingency option for the aging Chris Snee, the Giants’ 31-year-old, four-time pro-bowler. Snee reportedly mulled retirement this year but later decided to return for the 2013 season. He also had hip surgery as well.
For what it’s worth, highly-respected NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock predicted that the Giants would select Pugh in his mock draft, which was posted the day before the draft.
“I told you it wasn’t sexy, but I love the pick. He can play left tackle. He can play right tackle. He can play left guard. He can play right guard,” Mayock said.
Tacuma R. Roeback is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TacumaRoe, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+