Justin Pugh: 5 Things You Need to Know About the Syracuse Offensive Tackle
Due to the lack of elite talent at the skill positions in this year's draft crop, it's possible that five offensive lineman could go in the top 10-12 picks—three of which will be offensive tackles.
Although college football's top underclassmen at the position decided to stay in school—Taylor Lewan, Jake Matthews and Zach Martin—Justin Pugh stands to show the true depth of the this year's class.
Combine results courtesy of NFL.com. College stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com.
Name/DOB: Justin David Pugh | August 1, 1990
Hometown: Holland, PA
High School: Council Rock South
Pugh went from being selected to play for Pennsylvania in the 2009 Big 33 All-Star Classic and earning the Maxwell Award, which is presented to the Top 50 high school scholar-athletes in the tri-state area, to not seeing any game action in his freshman year at Syracuse. He became a three-year starter after the learning experience.
After redshirting his freshman year at Syracuse, Pugh proved his worth to the team by becoming a perennial All-Big East Team selection—second team in 2010 and first team in 2011 and 2012.
Each year he seemed to get better and better. He went from a second-team selection to the first team and being one of only 11 players to start all 12 games. In 2012, he was named an ECAC Division All-Star and team co-captain.
Each year with Pugh as a starter, the team featured a different 1,000-yard rusher, showcasing the talent of the team's offensive line.
Weight: 307 lbs.
Arm Length: 32"
Hand Size: 10 1/4"
40-yard Dash: 5.14 sec
Broad Jump: 103"
Vertical Jump: 28.5"
Three-Cone Drill: 7.45 sec
20-yard Shuttle: 4.63 sec
Pro Day Results
225-lb Bench Press: 22 reps
Pugh possess the movement skill desired by zone-blocking teams, utilizing his agility and balance to overcome his shortcomings in other areas. As a three-year starter for Syracuse, Pugh has the experience to back up his second to third round grade, but his short arms (32 inches) and lack of strength for the position may force him inside.
Pugh's true strength is his mobility. He is adept at quickly reaching the second level of opposing defenses and is very capable of pulling and trapping on screen plays, etc.
After redshirting in his rookie season, Pugh started his three remaining seasons, only missing four games at the beginning of the 2012 season to recover from offseason surgery.
* Scouting combine and pro day information gathered from NFL and NFL Draft Scout
Pugh was a member of the 2010 Fall and 2012 Fall Athletic Director's Honor Roll at Syracuse, according to SU Athletics.
Only three offensive linemen in this year's draft class had arms measuring shorter than Pugh's, and they're all considered interior players.
Pugh and Alabama's D.J. Fluker became the first non-seniors to be invited to the Senior Bowl in its 64-year history. They both were able to report to the event with one year of eligibility remaining after graduating in less than four years.
"He is short-armed (32), and he does play short-armed," one scout said. "Everybody wants to make him a guard because of that. That's fine. Maybe. I like bigger, thicker guys at guard. I'll make him a center. I was thinking about guys like Max Unger or Trey Teague, somebody that made the tackle-to-center switch. You can get away with shorter arms and less mass at center."
Graduated with a degree in finance in 3 ½ years. "One of the smartest guys I've (scouted) in 12 years," another scout said. "Like a coach on the field."
From Holland, Pa. Played in a pro-style offense. "He came into our room at Indy and told us he was a left tackle, which I'm sure his agent told him to say because they make the most money," a third scout said. "He doesn't have the feet to play out on an island. He is ornery. Good technician. He's high intangibles. He bends well enough. He's a second- or third-round guy that will be a solid player for a long time." -- Milwaukee-Wisconson Journal Sentinel
"Justin Pugh's feet are so good that you don't want to waste him at guard. Will his short arms force him inside? They could, but we have a lot of insight into the program and the coaches swear he can play the angles well enough to stay outside. You can be prepared to move him in, but you have to at least try him (at left tackle) to start." -- Pro Football Weekly