The Washington Post

Syracuse OT Justin Pugh aims to sell his versatility to NFL teams

As he looks to impress NFL officials, coaches and scouts at pro football’s Scouting Combine, Syracuse offensive tackle Justin Pugh hopes that versatility stands out as one of his best traits.

Syracuse tackle Justin Pugh believes he has the ability to play all five positions in the NFL. (Associated Press) Syracuse tackle Justin Pugh believes he has the ability to play all five positions in the NFL. (Associated Press)

The 6-foot-4, 307-pound Pugh has experience in both zone- and power-blocking schemes. He hopes that knowledge makes him even more attractive to NFL teams.

Pugh has spent the bulk of his college career at tackle, but has seen time at guard as well. This offseason he may work on learning how to snap the ball in case an NFL team asks him to take up the center position.

“Yeah, I think I can play every position on the offensive line,” Pugh said. “I haven’t snapped, but I think with my football IQ I know I’d be good with the calls. It’d be just getting the snaps down, which is something that with coaching should come easy.”

Projected as a second- to third-round pick, Pugh also is aware that he could be asked to switch to right tackle. But he doesn’t expect that to be a challenge.

“It’s just getting that muscle memory back down. You’re used to kicking back with that left foot, now you’ve got to switch it over. It takes a little adjustment, but nothing that an off-season can’t handle.”

Pugh, who met with the Redskins (who are in need of a right tackle) and 30 other teams here at the combine, said his week at the Senior Bowl enforced the importance of versatility. There, he worked at both guard and tackle, and during interviews, team officials asked him about his ability to switch positions.

“You like to have position-flexibility. If a guy has played exclusively on the left, you have to be concerned,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said, speaking in general about the qualities teams seek. “Can he make the transition to right tackle, physically? And it’s a new technique that he’s going to have to learn. You won’t know until you try it. … Most offensive linemen, you want them to be able to fluctuate and play multiple positions.”

Pugh’s goal is to prove to teams that he can do just that.

Follow Mike Jones on Twitter.

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.



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