Southern California Senior
PROS: Works well in press coverage and is able to get the jam. Has nice size to match up with receivers and has enough speed to run with most. Shows some ball skills when playing in space and is decent in zone. Capable tackler that contributes in run support. Can beat blockers out on the edge.
CONS: Doesn't have great hips or burst out of his breaks. Doesn't have ideal makeup speed. Struggles to turn and run at times when he doesn't get the jam, which he'll miss from time to time. Lacks ideal awareness in zone, and is not really a playmaker when working at corner.
OVERVIEW: Pinkard formerly was the Trojan's starting free safety until Taylor Mays showed up in 2006. Started the season opener that year before tearing ACL in right knee. Missed all of the following year with a tear in his left knee, and also got busted for a DUI that spring. Came back in '08 as a starting corner where he played the past two seasons. Combined for 98 tackles, 3 picks, 12 pass breakups, 5 forced fumbles, and 4 recoveries in that span. Was a starter way back in '05, playing mostly corner, but also working at both safety spots where he had 54 tackles, 2 picks, and 7 pass breakups. He's had in total 2 left ACL tears and 1 in his right knee. I'm sure those knees at this point are held together with spit and bubble gum.
NFL FORECAST: When you've had as many knee injuries as Pinkard, you're liable to have another one. But Pinkard projects well in the NFL as a role player because of his versatility, and I would really like his chances if I didn't feel he's one more knee injury away from retiring. He works as a bump and run corner in college, but he's not quite good enough to stay there in the pros. He's a capable tackler that probably projects best as a dime safety, although his awareness in coverage isn't where you'd want it to be. But I don't think he'll have any issues in the film room to get better there. He had a tendency to play with less fire and passion than some of his teammates on that load '08 USC defense, but he still was a productive player when he was on the field. He fits best for a team that will use him in a variety situations, and I would call his NFL position a dime back. He can come in on nickel and dime packages, and be used at corner or at safety, whatever the situation calls for, and can be effective in that role. So he'll be a valuable role player for some team as long as his knees hold up. And while obvious I'm no team doctor with insight into his issues, I've just never heard of a player that had his knee problems in college go on to have a successful, and long NFL career. At this point, I'd be surprised if Pinkard finishes his rookie contract, but I'd give him the chance to maybe give me two or three years as a role player if need be.
ATL FORECAST: Pinkard could fit in Atlanta as that versatile defensive back off the bench. He offers the size and potential to be a bump and run corner when the team needs it (I would guess mainly in the redzone), and can also move to safety and help off the bench. His primary role will be on special teams, and if he sticks there he has a chance to develop as a valuable and versatile backup. He'll never be a starter, but if he can stay healthy long enough to be coached up a bit, by his second or third year he make small contributions off the bench.
VALUE: Purely as a player, I'd take him in the fifth or sixth round to add depth in my secondary. But because of the knee issues, I'd be a bit hesitant and would try to see if I could wait until the undrafted market or maybe take a flyer on him late in the seventh round.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.