Former Pitt cornerback Jason Pinnock was selected by the New York Jets with the 175th pick in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL draft on Saturday. The pick was in line with where many assumed he would go in the draft after a college career that was solid at the program level but never earned him national acclaim.
The 6’1”, 205-pound cornerback was the third alumnus of Pitt selected in the 2021 draft, as Panthers defensive ends Patrick Jones II and Rashad Weaver came off the board in the third and fourth round, respectively. Jones went to the Minnesota Vikings with the 90th pick, and Weaver went to the Tennessee Titans with the 135th pick. Many also considered Panthers safeties Damar Hamlin and Paris Ford safer bets than Pinnock, but he was the first Pitt defensive back chosen in this year's draft.
Pinnock declared for the draft after a senior season in which he started in 10 of Pitt’s 11 games. All told, he came up with 19 tackles, including one tackle for a loss; five pass breakups, and a team-best three interceptions. One of those picks came late against Louisville and secured a 23-20 win, but Pinnock also gave up costly late touchdowns in one-point losses to NC State and Boston College.
With that said, no Pitt alum did more to improve their draft stock at the school’s pro day than Pinnock. The cornerback put on a show, running a 4.52 40-yard dash on a new, spongy surface at the Pitt practice facility that seemed to slow down others. In addition, he posted a 39.5-inch vertical jump that would have ranked third among corners at the 2020 combine and a 10-foot, eight-inch broad jump.
As an organization, the Jets have much to sort out, as they went 2-14 in 2020 and have had just two winning seasons in the last 11 years. Pinnock is far from the last piece of the puzzle in terms of fixing the team's many issues, but he does address a position of need and should start his career in a low-pressure situation that should allow him room to grow and improve.