NFL Draft 2013OpinionSpeculation

Draft Target: Justin Pugh

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Leslie Frazier didn’t exactly give current offensive line backups a ringing endorsement when he said “we need a swing tackle, we don’t have that.”  He went on to say the Vikings “need more competition at the guard position” and these comments struck me as out of character for a guy that normally seems very careful about saying anything that might shed a negative light on his current roster.

On the other hand, he certainly isn’t lying.

The Vikings could use an increase of talent at the guard position, someone capable of pushing both starters, and they don’t really have a proven swing tackle on the roster.  The need is there, and it may not be a first round need, but Frazier probably isn’t sending up any smokescreens in this specific instance.

One option outside of the first round could be Syracuse left tackle Justin Pugh, standing at 6′ 4″ and 307 pounds, who was a rock solid pass protector in college but probably fits best as a utility lineman in the NFL due to his lack of size.  At Syracuse he was a redshirt freshman, started every game in the next two seasons, and then had to sit the first four games of the 2012 season due to an offseason surgery on his shoulder.  He played in each of the remaining nine games as a starter.

Pugh is a divisive prospect in the draftnik community.  Some say that his lack of size and short arms, combined with suspect strength which leads to struggles against bull rushes, will prevent him from ever having a very high ceiling.  Others say that his mobility, footwork, balance and quickness will allow him to be an immediate upgrade at guard for some NFL team.

Me?  I tend to think he is a classic “mixed bag” case and will be a bit of both.  He clearly has some physical limitations, but there is also a lot to like about his agile style of play for teams running a zone blocking scheme.  He is not only an athletic offensive lineman, but a technician that continues to develop his craft, with plenty of starting experience (37 games) to build off of.

Lastly, Pugh is known as a very high character guy with an incredible work ethic.  He has long supported worthy causes, such as the Special Olympics, and will surely make his future franchise proud with his off-field commitment to doing good.

His limited skill set may cause some teams to slide Pugh down their draft board, and he may fall as far as the third round, but that could play right into the hands of teams like the Vikings that could utilize Pugh’s attributes on Sundays.  He would be well worth a second round selection for the Vikings, and would be considered an absolute steal in the third.  He is someone to keep an eye on during day two.

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Adam Warwas

Adam Warwas (Founder) has been writing about the Vikings for a total of eight years. Five of those years have been here at Vikings Territory where he continues to surround himself with enough talented individuals that people keep coming back. As proud as he is of what Vikings Territory has become, his real treasures are in his home... a beautiful wife and three amazing children (and a dog named Percy).

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  1. I was hoping Frazier was talking about finding a swing tackle later on in the draft.
    Wisconsin’s Ricky Wagner in round 5 or 6 would make a great swing tackle for the Vikings.
    The Vikings have already shown interest in Oday Aboushi.
    David Quessenberry and Brian Winters are also swing tackles to keep an eye on.

    Round 2 or 3 is just too high for a backup lineman. I will pass on Justin Pugh.

  2. Adam, Frazier’s comment about not having a backup swing tackle leads me to believe he is not planning on drafting a starting guard high in the draft to replace Charlie Johnson. (J Cooper)

    It seems to me that Charlie Johnson would make a great swing tackle???

    1. Good comments, Carl. I guess I would consider Pugh a likely starter at guard, which doesn’t mean he can’t also serve as a backup at the tackle spots. Was thinking along the lines of Artis Hicksanshis role from years ago.

      It is odd to me that Frazier said that. Charlie Johnson and DeMarcus Love surely didn’t enjoy reading that quote.

  3. I think if the Vikings had any plans of drafting one of the top OL prospects (Pugh is among the top ten)… Frazier would have worded his comment differently.

    I think if the Vikings had their eye on Pugh or Kyle Long or any of the top 3 guards… Frazier probably would be considering Johnson as a swing tackle.

    His comment leads me to believe the Vikings have a plan for those early picks and OLine is part of if. Charlie Johnson’s starting job is probably safe.

  4. Do you like Pugh better than Barrett Jones from Bama? Too me they’re both starters inside at the NFL level and could give you a snap outside in a pinch. If Jones’ injury drops him into the third or 4th I would sure take him.

  5. I don’t believe what any coach or GM says right now. The deception game is in full swing. Especially all those “a source says”, “we are hearing”, or my favorite ” there is a current buzz regarding…”

  6. And where the hell is Big Johnny? Don’t make me come down there looking for you Boy. . .

    1. He is alive and well Fran! Checked in the other day…couple of post’s down. Try and keep up would ya?