Eric Pinkins is listed on the New York Giants official web site as a linebacker. That might have been right when the Giants signed him to their practice squad last season, but not now. Pinkins, 6-foot-3, 230 pounds is a safety and he’s right in the the thick of the competition for the Giants’ fourth safety spot.
Let’s take a closer look at Pinkins as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the Giants’ 90-man roster.
2016 Season In Review
Pinkins played in five games for the Giants last season. He was waived/injured by the Seattle Seahawks at the beginning of the season, started on Seattle’s IR, was released and joined the Giants practice squad in October. He was promoted to the 53-man roster in late November.
Pinkins played only three snaps on defense for the Giants last season, but played 99 special teams snaps in those five games.
How did Pinkins end up transitioning from a linebacker who once weight 240 pounds to a 230-pound safety? He explained to NJ Advance Media:
“Honestly, I took initiative. I went up to the guy that runs the scout cards because they had two receivers at safety. I was like, 'I'll give a way better look than receivers out there.' So he ended talking to the head man (Ben McAdoo) and I saw him just smirk and shake his head, 'Yes.' Then I was like, 'Yes! It's my opportunity to show them I can play safety.' I ended up going back there. Two plays later, (Sterling Shepard) was running a corner route, I picked it and I've been playing safety ever since.”
2017 Season Outlook
Pinkins is competing with Nat Berhe, Duke Ihenacho, Jadar Johnson and Ryan Murphy for a reserve safety spot. The idea that at 230 pounds he could drop down into the box and play strong safety might give him an advantage. So might the idea that he is considered a quality special teams player. Pinkins played in six games with Seattle in 2015, getting 66 special teams snaps.
Honestly, it is pretty much impossible to handicap the competition for the last safety spot. My guess is that Berhe, Ihenacho and Pinkins are the top three candidates, with Johnson more likely to wind up on the practice squad. We will find out in a few weeks when training camp opens.