Justin Pugh is Ready For Pro Bowl Performance
Tom Peticca (@peticca95)
Since I started writing for this site back in January I have wrote many times about the importance of the defensive line and how it was instrumental to bringing the Giants wins in Super Bowls 42 and 46. Well, now I’m going to flip the script and talk about the big uglies on the offensive line and their significance.
Going into last year many people, myself included, thought the Giants O-Line was their biggest weakness. As it turned out, the unit outperformed expectations and for the first time in a few years the Giants didn’t feel the need to draft an offensive lineman (even though I think they should have taken a shot on Laremy Tunsil at 10).
While the right side of the line will be looked at under the microscope, the rest of the offensive line has major pro bowl quality. Center Weston Richburg has been regarded as one of the best young centers in the game, and he will only get better with more experience going into his 3rd year. As they say in Remember the Titans its “left side, strong side” also true for the Giants now sporting another former 1st round pick in Ereck Flowers playing left tackle. Flowers was thrust into starting as a rookie and will only improve in 2016.
However, it’s Justin Pugh who stands out as the most underrated and most vital piece to the offensive line puzzle though.
Not only is Pugh the longest tenured O-line starter for the Giants, but he can also play almost any of the front five positions. After being drafted 19th overall Pugh started all 16 games playing right tackle. Since then Pugh has proved his versatility starting games at left tackle and left guard. His 2015 performance at left guard proved to be his strongest position and between Flowers and Richberg, Pugh could have a pro-bowl year.
Knowing that he can shift outside if Flowers got hurt, or flop to the right tackle spot in a pinch proves how important Pugh is to the success of this unit. While the longer he stays at one position the more he will improve, he also keeps his options open for the betterment of the team, in a similar way that Mathias Kiwanuka did switching back and forth from defensive line to linebacker in his time in New York.
Pugh likely won’t get the praise he deserves; but he is definitely the most underrated player on the Giants roster leading through example; on and off the field. Last year Pugh put in the extra training utilizing off season MMA training. That choice paid off as Eli was one of the least sacked QB’s in the league in 2015. The Giants go…as Eli does and having Justin Pugh ready to crank up his 4th season is vital.