General manager Jerry Reese said he simply could not pass on a 6-foot-4, 301-pound tackle who the Giants think can play all the positions on the line.
"Terrific football player," Reese said. "We think he is really versatile. We like guys who can do multiple things. This guy can play left tackle, right tackle, either guard, and actually [offensive line coach] Pat Flaherty thought he could play center, so he has that kind of skill set.
"Hard to pass up on those kind of guys."
In doing so, the Giants passed on Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, projected by some to be a top-five pick.
Pugh, who played left tackle, had shoulder surgery and missed the first four games of 2012 but still earned All-Big East and All-America honors. He's the first All-American at Syracuse since 1990, and he helped Syracuse have a 1,000-yard rusher in each of his three seasons in school.
The Giants said they have no concerns about the surgically repaired shoulder or his arm length, which is considered "adequate."
"People ask about his arms," Reese said. "We looked at him, and when you see guys with 32-inch arms playing offensive line, especially the tackle position, I looked at tape after tape after tape and I could never see the arms come into play."
"I was looking for excuses to downplay him," Reese said, "but could never find it. He was too good of a value. As a matter of fact, he was the highest guy on the board."
With Diehl and Kevin Boothe both on one-year deals, Pugh could be a starter next season.
"I think he's a tackle and I think he's going to start out at tackle," Reese said of Pugh's position. "But I think he is one of those guys that during a game you can plug him in at any position and he will do good for you. Smart, high test score. Team captain. All those things you like. Our kind of guy."