Prospect: Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse
By Clint Clearwater
NFL Draft Director and Senior Writer
January 19, 2013
Ht: 6-5 Wt: 298 40: 5.12
Strengths: Pretty good size, with room to add bulk. Very athletic and quick. Has a great kick slide and is fast enough to mirror speed rushers. Also shows true strength and establishes a good base to handle the bull rush. Upper body strength is truly impressive. He is solid is pass protection. Does a good job at extending his arms to keep defenders off him. He shows good awareness when dealing with the blitz. Shows very impressive power when run blocking but is very inconsistent throughout games. Shows textbook football I.Q. when double-teaming linemen; he helps out the guard then peels off to the second level. Plays with a mean streak. Has a terrific motor. Has a lot of potential.
Weaknesses: Overall consistency needs major improvement. I saw a lot of film I really liked on Pugh, but there was a lot I did not like. He has immense potential but he is not consistent in both run and pass blocking. He is a better pass blocker in my opinion, but there were still times I saw him get beat bad. His run blocking was where I saw he needed the most improvement. He does not consistently get low, does not stay on his man, does not keep his shoulders square, does not drive his opponents and often over-pursues his blocks. This shows a lack of focus and fundamentals; both of which can be improved. His run blocking worked in college, but this will not work in the NFL. I would like to see him be more aggressive. Overall he is a little raw, needs to develop more into a better prospect. Had shoulder surgery last August.
Summary: Justin Pugh kind of surprised me by declaring for the NFL draft this year. I don’t think it was necessarily a bad decision, but with his head coach leaving I can understand it. I noticed Pugh when I first started watching film on Ryan Nassib. Pugh stood out to me as a solid pass blocker who looked like he had potential to be a really solid player in the NFL. So I began watching more and more tape on him and I saw a lot of stuff I really liked. First off, he’s a solid pass protector with a great punch, excellent ability to mirror defenders, quick feet and powerful hands. He also can be very dominant when he wants to be. There were times where he simply took his man completely out of the play. Pugh really impressed me in these areas. I saw a lot of things I did not like though; mainly his run blocking consistency, which is not close to where it needs to be. He did a good job opening holes in college but his techniques will not work in the NFL. Don’t get me wrong, he has the ability to be a great run blocker, but he lacks the focus and fundamentals that will be needed in the NFL (getting low, driving opponents ect..). Pugh is a strong guy, and he relied on that when blocking at Syracuse; well in the NFL the guys are bigger and stronger and Pugh will need to get back to the basics and improve his techniques because strength alone will not cut it. In short, Justin Pugh has areas where he needs to improve (like all prospects) but he also has a high ceiling and potential to be great. I think teams will see that and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go somewhere around the 3rd round.
Draft Projection: 3rd – 4th round