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New York Giants’ Justin Pugh Reflects on Rookie Season; Says He’ll Switch Positions If Team Asks

January 2nd, 2014 at 1:00 PM
By Dan Benton

As the New York Giants head into the 2014 offseason, they're faced with a multitude of questions and concerns. Perhaps most importantly however, is what to do with their offensive line, which was arguably the worst in the league and allowed quarterback Eli Manning to be sacked a career-high 39 times. The last sack, unfortunately, leading to a high ankle sprain.

With Kevin Boothe a pending free agent, Will Beatty having suffered a fracture leg, David Baas with a massive contract and David Diehl pondering retirement, it leaves only rookie Justin Pugh as the sole level of consistency and reliability. In fact, he was the Giants' first first-round rookie to start all 16 games for the team since Lawrence Taylor did it back in 1981.

But all of that was not without rookie hiccups. Following the Giants' season-ending victory over the Washington Redskins, Pugh took a few moments to reflect on his first NFL season and how he felt he performed.

“I think it was a little bit inconsistent for the way I want to be,” Pugh said. “I had some down games. I just want to be that guy that you can always count on, you know what you’re going to get from him, and I think that’s something I need to do a better job of being more consistent.”

Despite being the highest rated first-round offensive tackle by Pro Football Focus, Pugh also understands that the offensive line is in peril and there's been much speculation and debate about him possibly changing position. And whether that's to the other side of the line or the interior of the line, Pugh says he's willing to do whatever the Giants ask of him.

“I think I could play wherever they need me to play,” Pugh added. “I’m not going to say ‘I need to play this position.’ I want to win games. I want to go to the playoffs. I want to keep the quarterback upright. So if that’s me at tackle, me at guard, me at center, I’ll play.”

Whether or not the Giants do ask Pugh to switch positions remains to be seen, but there's no denying that a massive overhaul of the offensive line is coming and he's one of, if not the only remaining rock on it.

photo credit: Sean Thornton

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Tags: David Baas, David Diehl, Eli Manning, Football, Justin Pugh, Kevin Boothe, Lawrence Taylor, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Will Beatty

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16 Responses to “New York Giants’ Justin Pugh Reflects on Rookie Season; Says He’ll Switch Positions If Team Asks”

  1.  fanfor55years says:

    I like his toughness and intelligence, so I’m still of the belief that he could turn into the long-term solution at center, one of the two most crucial positions on the offensive line.

    I’m still not giving up on Mosley and Brewer. I think one or both of them may turn out to be pretty good alternatives at guard. And I have to note that while it was against the Deadskins, that kid Goodin actually looked promising. Beatty is clearly an issue. I don’t think the issue is his long-term health. A break is a lot better than a knee or hip problem. The issue is whether he can become a good player rather than the bum he was this season. If so, how? Weight gain and a move to the right side? A very high-paid depth guy for 2014 and then cut? A miraculous case of remembering how to protect Eli’s blind side and not be overpowered by most of his matchups across the line of scrimmage?

    If I’m Reese I’m picking a tackle with my first pick in April and I’m getting the best offensive lineman available in free agency the first day free agency starts. I don’t care what position he plays. Pugh can move and Beatty didn’t do well enough to care about saving a spot for him. It won’t be a LT because that would cost too much, but ANY other position would be fine. Added to Pugh that could give us three pillars to build around. Then if we get lucky with one of Mosley, Brewer and Goodin, or Beatty returns to form, we’re in decent shape, with one more stud to be added with a slightly later April pick that turns out well (I’m thinking an interior lineman with pick #76) or an early pick in the April, 2015 draft. And, of course, while no one wants to hear it, Baas just might prove able in 2014. That would be a big bonus. I wouldn’t count on it, but it isn’t totally unlikely. When he has been healthy (a very rare occurrence) he has had some good games.

    I think it takes into 2015 to have anything approaching a really good offensive line, but I think we could get to “adequate” next season if we make the right moves and get new players into the lineup early.

    •  Nosh.0 says:

      I’m with this plan.

      •  Chad Eldred says:

        I’m for any plan, the success of which does not depend upon Baas having to play a meaningful role.

    •  nick86 says:

      I’d like to see Reese draft an OL in 2 out of the first three rounds. no doubt in round 1 and add atleast one other in rounds 2 or 3. Bring in a quality starter via FA and we’re on our way back to respectability on the OL.

    •  Kettles78 says:

      Before this year, what was your opinion on Beatty? I thought up until this year he was very solid on the outside and I think this year he just had a terrible year. I haven’t given up on him yet. Now if he has a 2nd bad year then I would be concerned.

      •  Nosh.0 says:

        Beatty had a meltdown this year. Add the leg injury on top of that and there is no reason not to add someone because Beatty is on the roster.

        As for giving up on him, we simply can’t. He makes too much money.

        But I think he would greatly benefit moving to the right side. I know people like to say that you need to be more physical and a mauler on the right, but that’s overblown. The bottom line with Beatty this year is that almost all his problems were mental, and the right side is much less pressure than the left.

        Come April I’m looking into a tackle with the #12 pick and Will Beatty will have absolutely nothing to do with my decision to ultimately draft one or not.

    •  turkish says:

      Plan sounds like a winner to me.

    •  buljos says:

      ff55 I hope you’re right. OT with the 12th. If I may ask, if JR does go OT in 1st, would it be possible for JR to go Guard in the 2nd… if say Cyril Richardson is there? He’s projected to go in the 2nd, and NFL Draft Scout had him the #1 of 268 Guards in the draft. Do you think that’s even remotely possible, especially given what John Mara said about the offense, and Coughlin calling the offensive play “putrid,” and Eli on crutches, and the 31st ranked rushing attack… and since the defense was 8th in the league and looking pretty good? Or is there no chance.

      I’m probably over thinking it, but if I were JR after the boss stated they weren’t getting enough out of the drafts (target on my forehead) and also stating “the offense is broken” emanating from that O-line, what better way to move that dot over to Coughlin and his new OC than to hand him another Justin Pugh type with the 1st pick, and Cyril Richardson with the 2nd? “There ya go Tom. If that O-line still sucks in 2014, it’s not on me.”

  2.  Krow says:

    Well … the entire OL plus all our TEs bombed this year except for Pugh … so I guess he’ll have to switch positions. Nothing at all weird about that …

    •  jfunk says:

      For real.

      I swear this meme is bizarre. I still have yet to see a single person step up and explain WHY this makes sense. Is there any reason at all this idea is in anybody’s head besides a few ESPN geniuses saying “his arms are too short, he’ll play guard in the NFL” during the draft TV coverage?

      •  Nosh.0 says:

        It’s not like Pugh was an all pro. He was good, and part of the reason the Giants liked him is because he was supposedly versatile.

        If we draft an LT, move Beatty to right, then Pugh inside, overall the line is improved.

        I don’t think the idea of Pugh moving is set in stone, but it is a possibility. One that gives us more options when determining how to rebuild our OL.

      •  buljos says:

        Maybe I’m looking at it the wrong way, but it’s not really about Pugh being a good RT. I think it’s about how to place the O-line talent you’ve got in the best positions possible in 2014. Looking at it from a single player perspective is one way to judge it. But if JR drafts an OT with the 12th, what’s the right combination for all 5 positions? Is that the wrong perspective?

  3.  pvdeluca says:

    The answer to the question of where Pugh will play and what they think of him will be apparent after the first round pick. If they draft an OT, he will move inside. If they draft a WR, he will stay where he is.

  4.  JClare says:

    Who do you guys like for the Giants to draft at LT? At pick 12 it’s looking like there will be multiple options for Reece. Personally I would like to see Reece draft Lewan but with guys like Greg Robinson, Cyrus Kouandjio and Cameron Erving out there Reece is going to have a tough decision, if of course he goes OT in the first round.

    Probably sound stupid saying this but if Amaro was still available in the second that would be amazing. He and Eli would do some serious damage!

    •  KingAndrewXXIII says:

      Lewan has a lot of flaws to his game…definitely wouldn’t take him at 12;most likely a later first round-early second round pick. Of those available tackles, I’d take Kouandjio or Robinson in that order. Kouandjio is mean and having played at Bama, has experience in a pro-style program and playing on the biggest stages in college sports. I still would rather go with a playmaker at WR or CB for our first pick.

      I like Amaro, but he will go in the first most likely and is more in the mold of Jimmy Graham than what the Giants look for in TE’s. I REALLY like Austin Seferien Jenkins and the kid from Iowa – both of whom are great blockers with soft hands and the ability to be solid receivers.

    •  buljos says:

      I’m probably sounding stupid too, but if he doesn’t return to school (likely will) I’m intrigued by OT La’el Collins as a nice pickup in the 2nd round. 6’5″ 315 former Guard, punishing blocker who can play both Guard and Tackle spots. I’m liking Cyrus Kouandjio with the 12th.

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