In One Fell Swoop, the Giants’ O-Line Gets Younger and Deeper

The Giants finally drafted a lineman in the first round – Syracuse’s Justin Pugh. Many pundits and GMs liked that about him, but now that he is a pro, where will he fit best – tackle, guard or center? The Giants like him at tackle, but his arrival makes the whole line suddenly more youthful and versatile.

Some thoughts from the coach and the front office:

Head coach Tom Coughlin: “He is a very technically sound player. He has performed at the left tackle position. We think he can play right tackle. We have even talked about the versatility that he presents because he has big hands and perhaps he is even a guy that could be considered as a center if we thought we needed that. So versatility – smart – technically sound – a guy that we think can grasp the system right away and be in a position to help us out as a young player in a position that is not easy to play right away. And that is the offensive line at the professional level.”

On if he will start out at RT: “Well, that is probably what will happen. But we will look at the rest of the draft and see what happens to come our way. And at the end of that we will assess our depth and see where we think we should start him out. He has been a tackle. I would expect him to stay there. Whether he goes over to the right side or not, and how fast he goes over there – we will have to decide.”

On if Pugh can be an opening day starter: “I’m sure that competitively he will have that opportunity. If he wins the job, then he would be the starter.”

GM Jerry Reese: “We think he’s really versatile. The Giants, we like guys that can do multiple things. We think this guy can play left tackle, right tackle, either guard, and actually (offensive line coach) Pat Flaherty thought he could even play center. He thought he had that kind of skill set.

It’s hard to pass up those kinds of guys, really good football player. People ask about his arm length and that wasn’t an issue for us. We looked at him and when you see guys with 32-inch arms playing the offensive line, especially the tackle the position. I looked at tape after tape after tape and I never could see the arms come into play because I was looking for an excuse to downgrade him but you can never find that…….

I watch a lot of tape. I can’t pinpoint a game that I watched but I watched a lot of tape on him though because again I saw the 32-inch arms and I was like ‘I’m going to find something wrong with this guy,’ and there’s nothing wrong with him.”

Director of College Scouting Marc Ross: “Justin just is, I’m sure Coach and Jerry have said, is clean – is just a clean player. For us that means he was productive on tape, he plays hard, he’s smart, he’s athletic, he’s physical, he’s a great kid, he doesn’t have any issues and he has a lot of upside. When you go down the checklist of positives that you look for, he had most of those attributes.”

On where Pugh might play: “I think he has the skillset to play anywhere along the line, and whatever our coaches feel is the biggest need to put him at next year, I think he can do that – from left tackle to center to right tackle to guard, he really has… because he’s so smart, so technique-sound and so athletic, it’s definitely a positive to be able to do that.”

On why he liked this player: “Because in a year who knows what our needs will be. Just having a guy that even during a game, if your center goes down, he can go in there and move wherever you want him to go. And there’s nothing wrong with having a top notch left tackle, if that’s what he is. This just added to it. This isn’t the only reason why we liked it. It just added to him.”

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

This was a need pick that also happens to be a value one.  To me, it doesn’t matter where he plays. The Giants needed an infusion of young blood on the line and Pugh brings that. He has the ability to grasp all five positions, especially once Pat Flaherty gets his hands on him.

The Giants love this pick because Pugh can play anywhere. With an aging line, he is next man up at all five spots.

It may not take a lot for Pugh to become a starter this season. His competition at RT will be David Diehl and James Brewer. Diehl is a great guy and has the heart of a lion, but his body may no longer be willing. No one knows much about Brewer and this pick pretty much tells us the Giants aren’t completely confident in him handling that RT spot.

The constants on the line right now are Will Beatty at LT, Chris Snee at RG and David Baas at center. That is only for this season, however.

Beatty was signed to five-year deal earlier this year. He’s going nowhere, but he can be moved back to RT in favor of Pugh, if Pugh turns out to be the better option.

I believe Brandon Mosley, last year’s fourth round pick, may end up at guard either during or after this season. Kevin Boothe is on a one-year deal and Snee may decide to forego his option after this season and retire. Baas is under contract for three more seasons and providing he can stay healthy, the spot is his.