According to a league source, the Chicago Bears recently put former Pittsburgh offensive tackle Jason Pinkston through a private workout. The team saw him at the Scouting Combine, at the Senior Bowl and was in attendance for his pro day March 25. The individual session will be the fourth time the Bears get a close look at him, so obviously there is strong interest.
Pinkston (6-3, 317-pounds) was a three-year starter at left tackle for Pitt, starting 41 games in his collegiate career. He was named first-team All-Big East his junior and senior seasons. Experience is not an issue.
He has great feet and long arms. He does a good job of staying in front of defenders and uses a violent first punch to create initial separation. On traps and pulls he shows good quickness, footwork and awareness at the second level. He anchors well in pass protection but can be beat by speed rushers to the outside.
Due to his less-than-ideal size and inconsistencies with faster edge rushers, he most likely won't be a left tackle in the NFL. He's projected as a guard or right tackle. In the run game, Pinkston must improve. He does not show a nasty streak and isn't the mauler a team would need out of a guard. For that reason, his ideal position would be right tackle.
He's projected as a mid- to late-round pick. Yet his combine and pro day performances were nothing to write home about, so it's possible he could fall to the sixth or seventh round. The Bears are interested in his versatility and probably picture him as a swing tackle that could play guard if needed.
Pinkston is not NFL-ready and must improve his run blocking if he's going to be a full-time contributor at the next level. He started plenty of games at Pitt, so he's not a project, but he'll need a lot of grooming. In Chicago, he most likely wouldn't contribute for a few years. On tape, he doesn't appear to be too special but obviously the Bears see something in him. Odds are good Chicago will pick an offensive lineman early in the draft and a developmental blocker late in the draft. Don't be surprised if Pinkston is that developmental pick.
Bears bring in Friday
Friday is a late bloomer. He was a backup at VT until his senior season. He also got a late start on his collegiate career and will come into the draft as a 25-year-old. He has good size (6-3, 230) and is extremely athletic.
He led the team his senior year with 8.5 sacks, while totaling 66 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. Two of those sacks came against projected first-round offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo of Boston College.
WR DE Steven Friday
Kevin C. Cox/Getty
Friday is a speed rusher who relies on his natural ability more than sound fundamentals. He's extremely strong, reportedly bench pressing in the 440-pound range, but doesn't play with much strength on the field, often due to his inability to gain consistent leverage. Once he gets to the edge though, he's very hard to stop. He has an all-day motor and shows great game speed. His tackling is above average as well. He shows quick feet and good lateral movement, and looks comfortable making tackles in space.
The knocks on Friday are due to his inexperience and his inconsistencies at the point of attack. He'll need to add about 20-30 pounds if he's going to play defensive end in the Bears' 4-3 system. Which is why many project him as better suited for the OLB position in a 3-4 scheme. He's a developmental player that won't be able to come in and start right away but his natural athleticism should make him a solid special teams contributor.
His ability as a pass rusher is limited, as he doesn't possess many moves other than the quick edge rush. He'll definitely need some time to develop but his pure talent has NFL teams salivating. Most analysts believe he's seventh-round talent. Surely one team is going to grab him earlier than that with the hopes he reaches his high ceiling.
Friday has good speed and quickness, which is why it's more likely a 3-4 team with a need at OLB will pick him before Chicago. The Bears don't have a pressing need at DE. While they may be falling in love with his potential, it might be too hard for the team to justify using a fifth-round pick on him when there are so many other roster holes to fill. Yet, if he's the best player available in the sixth round, Jerry Angelo may pull the trigger. And if Friday goes undrafted, expect the Bears to make a run at him in free agency.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.