Justin Pugh enters training camp as the New York Giants’ first round selection. In recent history, the Giants have had fluctuating success in their first round selections. Kenny Phillips—due to constant injury—is now with the Philadelphia Eagles, Hakeem Nicks has panned out immensely– becoming one of Eli Manning‘s favorite targets, Price Amukamara continues to struggle and David Wilson appears to be one of the NFL’s rising stars.
Entering the 2013 NFL Training Camp, Pugh sits behind David Diehl as the second team right tackle. But Diehl, who has struggled and has been injured frequently, could lose his spot to the young tackle.
In 2011, Diehl ranked in last place out of all eligible tackles in pass blocking efficiency, according to pro football focus. Moreover, the 32-year-old lineman will be entering his 11th year—an opportune time for Pugh to ascend upward on the depth chart.
Pugh’s biggest draft criticism was his modest wingspan, which was 32.5 inches. To put this in perspective, Will Beatty—the player who the Giants deemed as their franchise left tackle—has a wingspan of 34.75 inches. In the subject of pass protection, a short difference in arm length can account for a lot—even if the arm length differential is 2.25 inches.
Pugh’s versatility also makes him a potential guard. But, Kevin Boothe and Chris Snee are currently at left and right guard, respectively—two players from whom it will be much harder to steal a first team position. Snee has been an elite guard in the NFL for a decade, and Boothe—while not being as tremendous—has still been a mainstay for the Giants during New York’s last two Super Bowl victories.
While Diehl has also been entrenched in the Giants’ offensive line for many years, his play has since suffered more than New York’s two aforementioned guards.
Recently, the Giants have struggled—and won a championship two years ago—with a patchwork offensive line. Their line problems could also be telling of their red zone issues, such dilemmas made kicker Lawrence Tynes the team’s leading scorer in 2012 by averaging just over three field goals per game.
Analyzing all of the previous information, Pugh was selected to solve many of these issues. His first team competition—Diehl—could be out of a first team job going into 2013. Moreover, Pugh’s mix of strength and youth could finally provide the Giants with some much needed durability and consistency along the offensive front.