There is no doubt that the offensive line is a huge concern for the Jets, until we improve this unit the production from the QB and RB positions won't be at the level we expect. Right now without any upgrade, we could head into the 2013 season with a line consisting of D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Matt Slauson, Nick Mangold, Vladimir Ducasse and Austin Howard, if we go with that line, we'll finish with a losing record for the 2nd season in a row and our quarterback will be hit more than a piñata.
There are a lot of options in the first round and some top of the line tackles, however if we want to go in another direction in the first, we need to look a little lower. With this in mind, if Justin does elect for the draft this year (he is still undecided last i heard), he'll likely go in the first 20 picks of the 2nd round. Right around where the Jets will be selecting. So lets dive right in and take a look at Justin.
After redshirting in 2009, Pugh became the starter at left tackle his freshman year in 2010, making an immediate impact and earning All Big East Second Team, he started every game in 2010 and 2011 at left tackle, again being named All Big East First Team, despite missing the Spring game and the first four games of this season, he did enough to earn All Big East First Team (coaches selection) and looked every bit the elite tackle along the way.
First of all lets start with personality, he is a high character player who is constantly on the honor roll at Syracuse, never been in any kind of trouble and coaches speak highly of him and his work ethic. Exceptional pass protector who has excellent balance, and manages to mirror pass rushers to keep them out of the backfield. Has excellent hands that he sets and re-sets if rocked, sinks his hips to counter power moves and rarely gets beat off the line. His pass protecting is among the best in the nation. Has good power when in-line blocking and works well in space, has good balance and initial surge to knock defenders back, very good lateral ability to seal off the edge. Works to the next level and plays to the whistle, good blitz recognition and his coaches have commented how he picks up the blocking schemes quickly. Finishes his blocks and shows a toughness and core strength that will make him a good prospect at either the left tackle or right tackle position.
Although he does have excellent height, he will need to add a little bulk to his 290lb frame. His run blocking is not quite to the standard of his pass protection, and can lose leverage at points. Had shoulder surgery this off-season which forced him to miss the Spring game and the first four contests of the regular season. Other than that, there isn't a great deal not to like about Pugh.
Justin is a prospect that I really like. Mainly because his pass protection is already at an elite level. He has experience as a three year starter and he could instantly help us keep the quarterback clean. He controlled Bruce Irvin last year and that speaks volumes for me, as look what Bruce did in the NFL this year. I class him as a late first round selection but it seems nobody else does, so I'm going with the majority with a 2nd round grade. I hope he elects for the draft and I hope we take a long hard look at him.
Would I draft him for the Jets? Yes (Second Round)