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NFL Draft 2013: Justin Pugh Prospect Profile

Player profile on Syracuse OT/OG Justin Pugh, who visited the Jaguars last Friday and could be a potential target on day 2 of the draft.

Justin Pugh at the 2013 senior bowl.
Justin Pugh at the 2013 senior bowl.

The Jaguars are going into the draft with a big hole at the RT spot, as both Cameron Bradfield, and Guy Whimper both proved to be ineffective, and are not seen as viable options going forward. Justin Pugh could be an option to fill the RT spot, if they decide to go that direction on day two. He has his question marks about being able to play OT in the NFL due to his 32" inch arms, and some questions in his game, but he is a good fit for the Jaguars ZBS and could be an OL option for the Jags, whether it's at RT or Guard.

OT/OG Syracuse
Height 6'4" Weight 307
Class RS Junior
NFL Comparison Andy Levitre Projection mid-late 2nd round

Pugh is a very experienced player, having made 34 starts for Syracuse over the last 3 years, all at LT. However despite that college experience, I don’t see a smooth transition to OT from college to the pros for Pugh. He has some style="font-size: 1em;">desired traits for the next level, particularly his experience style="font-size: 1em;">, and good technique. He is a bit tricky to project to the next level though, as he appears to be best suited to play as Guard, not OT, though he is inexperienced there. His biggest issues at the moment seem to be due to his length, lack of a strong core.

His pass protection skills comes into question to me, as a several times rushers were able to effectively force him off balance and force him to play on his heels, due to strong bull rushes, which leads me to believe that he needs to add strength to his overall core. When rushers converted speed to power, he had noticeable troubles also, as it appears he does not have the anchor to be able to hold his ground on the edge after being forced to redirect himself. While he had trouble with bull rushes, I think speed rushes will be his biggest problem at the next level. His kick slide out of his stance appears methodical and slow developing, which gives the rusher one more extra advantage, as occasionally they would be able to get to the edge before he gets there to meet them. His normally solid foot technique lessens in pass protection when he tries to mirror rushers. Rushers who are able to properly change direction, convert speed to power gave him the biggest fits overall, something that would become much bigger in the NFL.

Pugh’s lack of normal OT arm length (32") also plays into his struggles in pass protection. Many times defenders were able to get into his frame, keep him off balance and push him back towards the quarterback . If he had normal arm length he wouldn't have to be locked in so close with pass rushers, but since they were able to get into his frame, some were able to dictate their direction, and he couldn't keep them away at a comfortable distance. Pugh did have some positives in pass protection though, as he did show show some solid technique, good flexibility, ability to properly read and react to stunts, and firm hand placement to help him stay locked in with defenders. I believe if he was put into a smaller space, his pass protection would improve greatly, as he wouldn't have to be too concerned about beating his man out to the edge, and he wouldn't have as many rushers be able to change direction and convert speed to power as well since they'd be interior rushers, not edge rushers. Playing at Guard instead of tackler would really help him play to his strengths (technique, athleticism) and would help him avoid his biggest weaknesses (mirroring rushers, beating speeders to edge, keeping up with changes of direction) Don't get me wrong, Pugh isn't awful in pass protection, he had some good flashes at times, but I believe his strengths and weaknesses just point to him being better suited to play Guard.

In run blocking he will never be mistaken as a mauler, but is more of a athletic tactician. He is able to consistently keep his pad level low, continually keep his feet moving, and opens holes at a efficient rate. He moves laterally well, and is able to get to the second level with ease. He doesn't let up on blocks, and he has a high motor also. He clearly understands the proper technique for lineman, and most of the time he was effectively able to turn his defender away from the hole for the runner. I think his agility, combined with his size, strength, make him a good candidate for a Zone Blocking Scheme, which the Jaguars will run next year.

I think Pugh is an Guard in the NFL, and and could be a effective one at that, simply because that's where all of his strengths best play into, but I do not think he is limited there as I believe he could probably slide into RT for a small period of time if needed. While I would not advise using the #33 pick on a probable guard with so many more pressing needs on the team, Pugh very well could be in play for the Jaguars if they are able to trade down into later in the second. While I am not sure that Pugh would be the answer at RT, he would provide much needed athleticism and consistent proper technique to an inconsistent line. The Jaguars could do a lot worse than Pugh at RT, they have recently, but I also think they could do better. Pugh would be a upgrade at Guard though, so I wouldn't rule him entirely out of the Jaguars plans.