The New York Giants desperately needed a right tackle in the 2013 NFL Draft. With veteran David Diehl on the down side of his career and uncertainty surrounding James Brewer's talent, the team drafted someone to come in and compete immediately for a starting position along the offensive line. With first-round pick Justin Pugh out of Syracuse, the Giants have exactly that, a guy who will be relied upon to protect quarterback Eli Manning for the foreseeable future.
However, Pugh's status as a first-round selection has placed a giant bulls eye on his back, as teammate Chris Snee has already insinuated that the rookie should be ready to spoil his new teammates throughout Big Blue's 2013 campaign.
"I did get a credit card," Pugh said. "I am ready."
Rookie hazing aside, the Giants are going to need Pugh to step up and plug the void the team currently has at right tackle. A year ago, a combination of Diehl and Sean Locklear were able to adequately compensate for the loss of veteran Kareem McKenzie. But with Locklear gone and another year of tread on Diehl's tires, the Giants can not afford to take any chances with Eli Manning's health. Pugh may or may not be ready for week one, but at some point during 2013, the Giants are going to call his number.
Regardless, for now, Pugh says he is still learning the bare essentials of what it truly means to play in the NFL.
"I think for me, the biggest thing I can learn is how to be a professional," Pugh said regarding one of the most pressing pieces of advice he'll seek from his teammates. "How to prepare, how to study–all of those little things that go into taking my game to the next level and contributing to the New York Giants."
Luckily for the Giants, the team possesses one of the best offensive line coaches around in Pat Flaherty. Through all of the unit's deficiencies last season, the Giants still only gave up a sack on 3.58 percent of Eli Manning's passing attempts, which the best ratio in the league. With Pugh now on the roster and the combination of Brewer, Cordle and McCants and Mosely still waiting in the wings, the Giants will have a much deeper and experienced offensive line in 2013.
Pugh will also benefit from the wealth of veteran experience that still remains on the roster. In particular, Diehl, who is likely to lose his job to Pugh as some point this season, has already made it clear that he plans to help the rookie transition to the NFL in anyway possible.
"Yeah, [Diehl] actually texted me when I was drafted and said congratulations and any way he can help out," Pugh said. "He is an 11-year tackle and he has been in the biggest games and won the biggest games."
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