Jason Pinkston was drafted with the 150th pick in the 5th round of the 2011 draft. He played right tackle at Pittsburgh but was immediately moved inside to left guard. At the time he was picked, the Cleveland Browns were looking for linemen more associated with a West Coast Style offense more familiar to then President Mike Holmgren. After Holmgren, Tom Heckert and Pat Shurmur were replaced, the Browns seemed more interested in bigger, stronger linemen. Now, with Kyle Shanahan in as offensive coordinator, more athletic, rangy linemen may be more valuable which could make Pinkston more attractive.
Pinkston was at a natural disadvantage when Rob Chudzinski was hired due to the fact that he seemed to want bigger linemen in a more power based scheme. Then, he was afflicted by the blood clot which not only prevented from playing football but also from being able to do any strength training, so he was at a further disadvantage when he came back for this past season.
Further complicating his situation was a high ankle sprain which took him out for a large chunk of this past year. Ultimately, Pinkston was able to play some snaps at the end of the year, but he had become somewhat of a forgotten man as the team became less and less relevant due to their record.
It still remains to be seen if Shanahan will have the Browns use a zone blocking scheme, but that has been his history both with the Houston Texans and Washington Redskins. In that scenario, Pinkston is not only back in the picture but could genuinely be a starter if the Browns were to play a game tomorrow. Presumably, that scheme would have Joe Thomas at left tackle, Alex Mack at center and Mitchell Schwartz at right tackle as the roster sits now. The Schwartz situation could ultimately change depending on how they draft and could move Schwartz inside to guard, but for the moment, he is still at tackle. John Greco might have to move over to right guard with Pinkston moving in to play left guard like he did as a rookie.
The Browns could certainly look to address the issue in the NFL Draft or free agency, but Pinkston suddenly becomes a very interesting, viable option to not only play but start on the Browns offensive line for Pettine next year. He will certainly be a player worth keeping an eye on as the process unfolds. Hopefully, with a full offseason and his health intact, Pinkston can surpasss where he was before the blood clot and get back to the level of progress he appeared to be making from his rookie year.
Topics: Jason Pinkston