The 2021 fifth-round pick was originally drafted as a cornerback and has been mostly deployed on special teams as he grows into his new safety role.
This season, Pinnock played 35 percent of special teams snaps compared to 14 percent of defensive snaps. In Week 16 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, however, Pinnock played a season-high 96 percent of defensive snaps and enjoyed his best game of the season.
The small sample size makes it difficult to accurately judge Pinnock's long-term performance, but his ability to plug and play last Sunday should shine a flickering light of hope for the Jets defense.
NY Jets may have found a defensive gem in rookie Jason Pinnock
In the wake of injuries and COVID-19 absences, Pinnock was put out on the field as a last resort, but the Pittsburgh product played like a starter.
Pinnock recorded four total tackles, one pass defended, and one forced fumble, earning an 80.1 PFF score for Week 16. Only fellow safety Will Parks and Zach Wilson scored higher.
Pinnock also had the best PFF run-defense grade of any defensive player in Week 16 — a grade that also ranked as the highest among all Jets players this season.
Given how atrocious the Jets' run defense has performed as a whole, that bar remains fairly low for Pinnock. Still, he played above and beyond what one would expect for a rookie making his first start, and it should be exciting to see what Pinnock can accomplish on a healthier Jets squad.
His Pro Football Network draft profile lists size, physicality, and ball skills as Pinnock's primary strengths while noting that he's not the speediest defensive back out there.
The rookie nonetheless seems willing to learn and adapt to the safety position, and if the Jets can hone his raw talent into a more refined product, Pinnock could yet develop into a pivotal piece in New York's defensive backfield.