When the Giants selected offensive tackle Justin Pugh out of Syracuse with the No. 19 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, many fans and critics thought that the pick was a bit of a reach. It now appears that New York knew what it was doing when it chose Pugh with such a valuable pick.
On Tuesday, the Pro Football Writers Association named Pugh as one of two offensive tackles on its 2013 All-Rookie Team. The other tackle chosen was D.J. Fluker, who was chosen by San Diego with the No. 11 overall pick out of Alabama.
“My whole goal was just to contribute and help the team win in any way possible,” said Pugh. “If it was on special teams or as a starting right tackle, I wanted to play my part and show these guys that I came here to play and play well.”
Pugh did all that was asked of him and more in 2013. He became the first Giants rookie since defensive tackle Barry Cofield in 2006 to start all 16 regular season games as well as the first rookie offensive lineman to do so since David Diehl in 2003.
Pugh is also one of just four Giants first round draft picks to start every game in their rookie season. The others are linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1981, guard John Hicks in 1974 and linebacker Jim Files in 1970.
For Pugh, though, the most important thing this past season was proving to the Giants that he is a dependable asset on the field.
“You’re just showing the guys in this locker room that you’re reliable and this organization can count on you to go out there and play every snap, every week, and you take pride in that,” he said.
With Pugh locked in as a starting tackle for the Giants, it’s up to general manager Jerry Reese to solidify the rest of a unit that was consistently inconsistent in 2013.