While teammate Shaq Quarterman receives most of the hype when it comes to the Miami linebacking corps, Pinckney is an impressive prospect in his own right and in my opinion, the 'Canes top linebacker entering the season. In two seasons for the ‘Canes, Pinckney has tallied 129 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, two interceptions and four pass breakups.
Despite being on the smaller side, Pinckney’s range, play speed and physicality is a good fit for today’s NFL where offenses challenge defenses to defend every blade of grass on the field. Excelling in space, Pinckney can be trusted to close down distances in a hurry and is a sound coverage linebacker in both man and zone coverage. If there is a window to close, Pinckney has rapid closing speed and attacks with a high level of urgency. If he can be kept clean, Pinckney makes impact plays and is a secure tackler. Pinckney is a sound tackler that does well to come to balance and wrap low.
While Pinckney isn’t necessarily lacking in terms of play strength, his smaller stature does create some issues when he is tasked with playing into the line of scrimmage. He’s much more effective in a pursuit-style role then being tasked with stacking blocks and playing downhill. Pinckney lacks the mass and functional strength to routinely stack and shed blocks. His play speed and processing skills help mitigate those concerns but adding bulk and play strength would serve him well.
If Pinckney can bulk up and not lose his athletic ability, it would serve his draft stock well in what should be a standout season for Pinckney and Miami’s defense as a whole.