Other candidates to go at 19 included Manti Te'o, Alec Ogletree, Desmond Trufant and D.J. Hayden, among others. Like many other teams, the Giants must not have considered Te'o a solid first-round pick. Teams had similar concerns about Ogletree, who appeared to be slipping into Round 2 before Atlanta traded back into the first round to nab him. And apparently, the Giants are comfortable with their secondary to add depth in later rounds.
Jim Mancari: The Giants have been known for using their first-round pick on defense, and if there was ever a year to continue that trend, this was it. But the team also had a need along the offensive line and addressed it by taking Justin Pugh. Draft experts say that Pugh is a polished and versatile offensive lineman, and the Giants claimed he was the best available player at No. 19. That versatility will be key, since the Giants current offensive line has three players (David Diehl, Chris Snee and David Baas) who are all over 30 and have dealt with injuries in their careers. Regardless of if Pugh wins a starting job, he's bound to see extended time, and he actually projects better as a guard than a tackle. One thing that benefits him is that he will have three veteran linemen in Diehl, Snee and Baas to learn from. This kid better have his notepad with him at all times.
Kel Dansby: The Giants take the highest rated player on their board, which is Justin Pugh. The Giants needed a right tackle upgrade and Pugh fills that need. Pugh was a rising prospect but still over drafted in my eyes. Eli Manning allows the Giants to take risk early in the draft and Pugh must pay dividends to justify his 1st rd pick. If the Giants get Arthur Brown in the 2nd round then all is forgiven and this draft is looked at as a success.
Jimmy Kempski: I want to be careful not to pretend that I'm some sort of scout, but there was a series in the Senior Bowl game where Pugh absolutely had his lunch eaten on 3 consecutive plays. Just an ugly series through and through. It's something that I haven't been able to get past any time his name came up during the pre-draft process. Fortunately for Giants fans, my amateur evaluations don't mean squat.
All-Star games are tricky. There are any number of reasons why a player may not look good. The have temporary coaches for the week, and could be asked to play a different technique, which could lead to a false negative performance.
I haven't watched enough real game tape of Pugh to offer any kind of legitimate analysis otherwise, but I know a lot of people around the league really liked him. The Giants needed to get younger along their OL, and they did. So I'll give them a temporary golf clap.
Jon Wagner: Representing a city like New York, with a name like Justin Pugh, the Giants’ 2013 first-round pick better not stink.
A projected consensus second-round pick, Pugh might have been a bit of a reach at number 19 overall -- which, in a physical sense, is something Pugh lacks with his relatively short 32-inch short arms. Not that all of the times that quarterback Ryan Nassib went down were Pugh’s fault, but when Pugh was protecting Nassib’s blind side as a three-year starter at Syracuse, Nassib was sacked about twice a game (71 times in 34 games) -- not terrible, but not great, either.
By comparison, quarterback Eli Manning was sacked 13 fewer times (58 times) in two more games (36), including the playoffs, and just 47 times during the regular season, over the past two years. However, after Pugh returned from a four-game absence at the start of last season (following an upper body injury), he was instrumental in helping Syracuse set school season records for yards per game, total yards, passing yards, passing yards per game, completions, and touchdown passes. Pugh was also a first-team All-Big East selection each of the past two years, after making the conference’s second team as a sophomore.
Although the Giants need help on both sides of the ball, general manager Jerry Reese knows how to find defensive talent in later rounds. And, he knows the high level of talent he already has in Manning, and in offensive playmakers such Victor Cruz (when his deal is finally done, and it will be), Hakeem Nicks, and David Wilson. He also knows that the game is won in the trenches, and without protecting the franchise quarterback, all of those exciting playmakers are rendered useless.
The Giants’ offensive line has mainly been in flux ever since their NFL-record streak with the same starting offensive line was stopped at 38 games, four years ago. Since then, they’ve largely had to rely on versatile lineman to get by, and in that sense, it’s little surprise that they chose a tackle who can effectively play at different spots (Pugh could be used at guard) on the line, with a good frame, at 6-foot-5, and just over 300 pounds. Pugh should also be able to have an immediate impact, which is what a team absolutely needs to have at any position from first-round pick. Time will tell whether Pugh will live up to his unfortunate sounding surname, or whether he will be much better than that for the Giants’ offense. But, for now, the pick seems to fill a need and make sense.
I might be one of the few people who actually like this pick. Most fans tend to focus only on the players' on-field performance, and a small sample at that. That's not even a third of the equation. The Giants look for intelligence, character, versatility and the ability to fit into their system. A player must score high in those areas for the team to consider them for a first-round selection. The only time the team variates from that criteria is when faced with a slam dunk talent such as Jeremy Shockey. Just because ESPN or NFLN don't have him rated as high as other does not mean he is automatically worse. That's one man's opinion.
For the record NFLN's Mike Mayock actually mocked Pugh to the Giants in his final draft. Still, people wanted someone else such as a low-character LB or a another player who won't fit in.
Pugh is a safe pick - he is already good enough to play in the NFL and will take direction well from the coaches. He is type of player the team builds championships around: a team-first guy with talent who will get better with each game. He will grow into a leadership role with the Giants and five years from now no one will remember (or care) who they passed on to take him. Does anyone still think the Giants gave up too much for Eli?