Last month, the Jets signed offensive lineman Adam Pankey to their practice squad. Today, we break down Pankey in detail.
The 28-year old Pankey is listed at 6’4” and 313 pounds and was undrafted out of West Virginia in 2017. He has played in nine NFL games with one start in his career.
Pankey was a three-star recruit out of high school but played in a read-option style offense, so there was a learning curve for him when he headed to West Virginia. After redshirting his first season, he was just a reserve in year two, playing in seven games.
He finally got his chance to be a starter in 2014 and started 37 games over the next three seasons. In his senior year, he was named as an all-Big 12 second teamer.
After not being invited to the senior bowl or scouting combine, Pankey went to the East West Shrine Game and worked out for teams at his pro day. He was not selected in the 2017 draft, but the Packers picked him up as an undrafted free agent.
In each of the next three seasons, he was released by the Packers in final cuts, but he was added to the practice squad in 2017 and activated for one appearance as a rookie, then signed to the Titans practice squad in 2018 and poached back by the Packers, again making one appearance.
After his release in 2019, he was claimed by the Dolphins and spent time on their practice squad and active roster over the past three years, making seven appearances and one start. He was released in final cuts by them this September and signed to the Jets’ practice squad a few weeks later. He has yet to be activated or elevated by the Jets.
Now let’s take a look at what Pankey brings to the table, divided into categories.
Pankey has decent size with a thick frame and long arms. At his pro day, he posted decent explosiveness numbers but his agility numbers were mediocre and his 40-yard dash time was only 5.31. He didn’t perform the bench press at his pro day.
Pankey has only played 42 offensive snaps in regular season action at the NFL level, but all but three of these were as a jumbo package tight end. Although he made one start, that was just a game where they had six linemen on the field for the first play rather than a full game.
In preseason, however, Pankey has seen extensive action at all five offensive line positions. In college he started games both at left guard and left tackle. He was the left guard all season when he earned his all-Big 12 second team honors.
Once he learned how to pass protect having hardly ever done so in high school, Pankey was a solid pass protector in college. However, he was not perfect, as he gave up 11 sacks in his three seasons as a starter. At the NFL level, his pressure rates have been low in preseason action but he has given up three sacks.
He displays quick feet and an ability to react to inside counters or stay with his man on an outside rush.
Despite his big frame, Pankey can struggle to anchor at times, both when working against interior bull rushes and speed-to-power moves off the edge.
Interior quickness can give Pankey issues, leading to him losing a leverage advantage early on in the play so that he is unable to recover.
Pankey is a bit limited as an athlete, and has been an inconsistent run blocker at the NFL level, although he looked as good as he ever has in the final preseason game this season, so he may be improving.
When he was used as a jumbo package tight end with the Dolphins, they had some decent success as a team, but he had more negatives than positive plays individually.
As a drive blocker, Pankey isn’t as punishing as you’d like to see from someone with his build. However, he can work well on combo blocks.
He’s usually effective at moving from one assignment to peel off and make another block, as he does here.
Pankey’s teams have had some success running behind him in short yardage situations. He’s capable of controlling his block at the point of attack even though he’s perhaps not a player you might look to get a big surge behind.
On this play, Pankey displays that even though he doesn’t have outstanding athleticism, he can hustle downfield well enough to get out in front of a screen.
However, he’s had mixed results in these situations. On this play, he didn’t engage his target fast enough and the play got blown up.
Pankey’s main issue is that he lacks flexibility. He bends at the waist, can be too upright with his pad level too high and will sometimes have a narrow base that means his balance isn’t always great.
His hand placement can also be consistent. On this play, he steps across to get in front of the blitz but isn’t able to repel the first punch and is knocked back to create easy separation.
In preseason action, Pankey had seven penalties in his first three seasons, but has none since. His discipline also improved over the course of his college career as he had eight penalties in his first year as a starter but then only five the next season and four in his final year.
One penalty that was called on him in preseason was a holding penalty that negated a touchdown pass. However, this looked a little harsh as he stepped across to pick up an interior rush and the pass rusher went to ground but didn’t appear to be dragged down.
He was ejected for targeting in one college game.
Like most offensive linemen, Pankey’s only special teams contributions have been as a blocker on the placekicking unit. He hasn’t allowed any pressure or had any penalties in this role.
Pankey obviously has good instincts and role familiarity because of his incredible versatility. He’s responsive in pass protection and does a good job of picking up stunts. This play ended up in a touchdown pass.
With his ability and willingness to play any offensive line role, Pankey obviously has a team-first attitude. He’s also shown a determination to work hard to improve and is considered to be coachable.
He was arrested for DUI in 2016 with the team suspending him for one game, but otherwise doesn’t have any off-field concerns.
Injuries haven’t disrupted Pankey’s career much. He missed two games due to an ankle injury in 2015 and spent time on the practice squad injured list with an undisclosed issue in 2021.
Pankey’s experience in multiple positions speaks to his adaptability in terms of fitting into any system, although it should be noted that he doesn’t necessarily have the elite athleticism the Jets usually look for in their linemen.
While he was with the Dolphins, Pankey was briefly teammates with current Jets Will Parks and Chris Streveler.
When Pankey was brought in, the Jets had serious injury issues on the offensive line, but the situation has improved with Duane Brown’s return and Alijah Vera-Tucker proving he can play multiple roles.
Pankey is a useful player to have on the practice squad, though, because he’s so versatile. He is a long shot to get a chance to play unless there is another injury crisis but it’s not just valuable that he can fill any spot in an emergency - it also helps out in practice with the scout team, as they can move him around when other players are unavailable.