That comment was more about upside than his stature. It's the old waver of would you rather select a talented specimen with limited football fundamentals or a more polished player who excelled through his technique in college moving onto the NFL where his opponents now also have that advantage.
I would have always assumed that the Giants valued the former as I believe it's easier to teach technique to a physically superior individual than to hope a player somehow develops some physical attributes he didn't have before.
Pugh was a pretty good technician coming out who compensated for his reach pretty well with his ability to shift and mirror. I don't think he was the athlete that Beatty was which is the premise of this thread.