There are three blue-chip offensive tackles at the top of this year’s NFL draft, and Justin Pugh isn’t considered to be on that tier with Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson. But Pugh is considered to be a first-round candidate. The knock on the Syracuse product is that his short arms could force him to move inside, but the bright side of that is that a lot of teams seem to think Pugh has the versatility to play anywhere on the offensive line.
Justin Pugh joined The Big Show on WSSP in Milwaukee to discuss his NFL draft stock, his strengths, his big performance against Nick Perry when the Orange played USC in 2011, his projection in some places as a guard rather than a tackle and his fit with the Packers. Being a Syracuse guy, Pugh also talked about the Orange’s run to the Final Four in the NCAA tournament.
On the Orange making the Final Four:
“I knew we were gonna beat Marquette, I just was scared about Indiana. I actually had Indiana going pretty far in my bracket. Every year we’ve been there we’ve had great teams and seemed like the big games we’d always win, and then we’d get to the tournament and lose. And this year was the exact opposite.”
On his strengths:
“I think my strength definitely is my athleticism, both in the run and in the pass game. In the pass game it’s just being able to block defenders. I played left tackle for every year that I was at Syracuse, so I was all-conference all the years I was there. The first year I was second-team as a redshirt freshman. So I think being able to play a premier left tackle position in college and play it well is definitely gonna help me at the next level.”
On how he fared against Nick Perry:
“I did real well against him. That’s actually the game where everyone started to contact me, after they saw me play against Nick. Because I guess he was a first-round pick and after playing him people thought that I had the talent to be a first-round pick as well. … I did well against him and it kind of helped put me on the map.”
On why he’s being projected as a guard rather than a tackle:
“That’s all like the analysts and draft experts who work for ESPN and say I’m playing guard. But people I’ve talked to have said that they’re gonna keep me at tackle, some want to play me at guard and some want to play me at center. It’s all where I fit in their scheme. But some teams have told me I will play tackle until I prove I can’t play. Everyone’s saying I can’t play left tackle in the NFL because I have short arms, but I don’t really know if I can worry about that.”
On how he believes he’d fit in with the Packers:
“I think I’d fit great in the Packers’ scheme. Obviously you gotta love playing for Aaron Rodgers; he makes the offensive line look even better because he gets the ball out so quick, and they have great receivers. … That would definitely be a great fit for me.”