Clemson Football: Why Nyles Pinckney may declare for NFL Draft

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 28: Nyles Pinckney #44 of the Clemson Tigers celebrates his teams 29-23 win over the Ohio State Buckeyes in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium on December 28, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 28: Nyles Pinckney #44 of the Clemson Tigers celebrates his teams 29-23 win over the Ohio State Buckeyes in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium on December 28, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /
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Clemson football DT Nyles Pinckney still has another year of eligibility, but he is flying under-the-radar as a guy who could declare for the NFL Draft.

The Clemson football program expects to return the vast majority of players along the defensive line in 2020, but one who may choose to go in DT Nyles Pinckney.

Though Tiger fans have had the decisions of Isaiah Simmons, Travis Etienne, A.J. Terrell and Tee Higgins, on their radar, one player who has slipped through their minds in Pinckney.

Pinckney likely didn’t receive a great draft grade. He’s not going to be taken on the first or second day of the NFL Draft and, honestly, would likely be leaving college to become an undrafted free agent.

That being said, he could choose to make that decision based on his academic merit and current situation.

Though Pinckney still has one year of eligibility remaining, he earned his degree long before ever stepping on the field in the 2019 season. He is set to earn a second degree in May, as well.

Already having accomplished the goal of graduating, Pinckney doesn’t have much left to prove in terms of academics and may believe it’s time to take that next step instead of playing another year at the collegiate ranks.

One thing Clemson football fans have to remember about Pinckney, as well, is the potential lack-of-upper-mobility for his draft stock. If Pinckney returned for another season, would he really be able to improve that draft stock?

He’d likely be considered a starter alongside Tyler Davis at defensive tackle, but the Tigers would have plenty of depth and competition behind him to take snaps. Guys like Jordan Williams, Darnell Jefferies, Ruke Orhorhoro, Xavier Kelly, as well as freshmen Bryan Bresee and Demonte Capehart could all see snaps at the position.

With that much depth and talent, it’s not likely that Pinckney sees any more snaps in 2020 than he did in 2019.

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There’s always something to be said for a guy wanting to come back and prove himself, and perhaps win another National Championship, but Clemson football fans should certainly at least be aware of the fact that Pinckney has a decision to make as well. His decision is different from some of the other juniors, but it’s an important decision nevertheless.