Here is how New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin reacted Thursday night to the selection of offensive lineman Justin Pugh with the 19th overall selection of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Opening remarks: We are excited about this pick. We had an opportunity throughout the course of our meetings here to sort of analyze the players that we thought would be available to us at this particular spot in the draft if something didn't happen to shock us out of that position. There was a run on the tackles early, as you know. It kind of backed off - Fluker was taken and then it kind of backed it. There was a trade right in front of us. We didn't think San Francisco would take an offensive lineman. We didn't know for sure, but we didn't think so. And so in the group of players that we really liked that we hoped would be available to us at 19, we had this young man right at the top - Justin was the guy on the board who was on top. So we are real happy to get him. I have been asked, ‘Do you think it is time for you to take a hard look at your offensive line in terms of young talent?' Well, there always is. Some years it is just not available to you. So we do feel like the addition of some young talented players in our offensive line is going to help us going forward in the future. We think we have a young man who has demonstrated the ability to learn. He is a very technically sound player. He has performed at the left tackle position. We think he can play right tackle. We have even talked about the versatility that he presents because he has big hands and perhaps he is even a guy that could be considered as a center if we thought we needed that. So versatility - smart - technically sound - a guy that we think can grasp the system right away and be in a position to help us out as a young player in a position that is not easy to play right away. And that is the offensive line at the professional level.
Q: Would you like him to wind up on day one at right tackle?
A: Well, that is probably what will happen. But we will look at the rest of the draft and see what happens to come our way. And at the end of that we will assess our depth and see where we think we should start him out. He has been a tackle. I would expect him to stay there. Whether he goes over to the right side or not, and how fast he goes over there - we will have to decide.
Q: Could he be an opening day starter?
A: I'm sure that competitively he will have that opportunity. If he wins the job, then he would be the starter.
Q: You and others in the organization talked a lot this offseason about fortifying the trenches on both sides of the line.
A: Very important.
Q: How big a priority...top of your list?
A: Well, it certainly was a strong consideration. I have always believed that if you are strong in the offensive and the defensive lines, you have a great chance to be competitive. And this is certainly consistent with that theory. We have got good young players here that are going to compete. We have veteran leadership here as well. It is a good situation to be in. Let's let them compete. As best we can, we would like to be competitive and have challenges at all positions. As more competition as we can place, no matter what the position is, the better off as a team we are going to be.
Q: Did you have a chance to talk to him?
A: I did.
Q: What impressed you about him?
A: His first answer; the first question he was asked.
Q: Which was?
A: ‘Who is the Syracuse alum that you are most familiar with?' He didn't say Jim Brown, he said ‘Coughlin.' He passed the IQ test right away at the Combine. That was a Marc Ross (question) - you knew that was coming when Marc took the floor. I knew something was coming.
Q: Was his run blocking what jumped out at you in watching the Syracuse offense?
A: Run and pass. We certainly saw the bowl game in which they did a tremendous job of rushing the ball. But there have been numerous games where that good young quarterback up there had big days as well. So we have been able to see Justin as a pass protector and as a run blocker and have been equally impressed.
Q: The way the defense struggled last year, was it hard to go with an offensive player with your first pick?
A: It wasn't hard, but if you know the way that we conduct our business, it is going to be the best player. You may think that there is a need - a greater need somewhere else - but the history of this organization has always been as far back as you can remember, take the best available player. And I think that was consistent with the first pick of the 2013 Draft.