In the end, there wasn’t a trade and no big shock with a QB. Instead, the Browns went with the somewhat safe route, taking LSU Barkevious Mingo, who is expected to be a force in the pass rush department for the Browns moving forward.
The raw data shows 4.5 sacks for Mingo last season, a 2.5 regression from the previous (he had seven sacks in 2011). That’s concerning for many because typically pass-rushers who sack the quarterback in college end up sacking quarterbacks in the NFL. If he doesn’t sack college quarterbacks, then who’s to say he will sack them in the pros?
But that’s not an entirely rational way to evaluate the LSU star. He faced many issues last season, some of which include an oddball coaching staff and facing double teams.
His coaching staff appeared to have used him in a read-and-react pass-rushing mode, which sometimes made him look undisciplined and frankly, useless. The coaches used him in “rush-to-cover” situations — that means he rushes the passer until a running back leaves the backfield, who he goes to cover — more frequently than they should have and didn’t really unleash him downhill. When he did get unleashed, his pursuit of the passer was quickly halted by multiple blockers. That made it difficult to rack up sacks like others did, but he still showed potential.
He showed that he had the athleticism to work around offensive tackles and instinctively loop through the offensive line on stunts. He also showed that he had powerful hands that knocked blockers back. That’s vital for a pass-rusher in the pros — unless you’re a speed rusher — because more often than not, to beat an offensive tackle, one has to go through him.
When Mingo wasn’t facing multiple blockers and was expected to rush the passer, he had fundamental issues that he needs to leave at the door of his next training facility. He played too tall because his pads were erect, and for all his athleticism, he wasn’t very flexible from snap to snap. If he can get this cleaned up in the pros, then he’ll have the chance to show off his impressive pass-rush tools.
One play that I enjoyed rewinding endlessly from Mingo’s past season was a fourth quarter sack against South Carolina.
The Gamecocks are in the red zone with just over two minutes left in the game. It’s 2nd-and-eight and they’re down 23-14 to LSU. To have a chance of winning this game, they have to get points out of this drive, and the only way to do that is to move the ball toward the end zone. Mingo, who is set to be unleashed after the quarterback once, isn’t going to let that happen.
Mingo’s lined up at left end, in the five-technique spot of LSU’s 40 front, outside the right tackle’s outside shoulder. His lanky frame is coiled up. His right arm is digging the dirt of the field and his left leg is staggered forward, set for explosion. Mingo doesn’t have great “juice” (scouting term for explosiveness), but he has enough of it to pose problems for the right tackle, who is hunched over in a two-point stance that indicates pass protection.
At the snap, Mingo takes four long strides forward as if he’s going to be speed rushing like most raw college ends do. The offensive tackle, who started off facing the end zone, turns his entire body to face Mingo and deal with his supposed speed rush. As he continues to turn, Mingo changes direction, raises his long arms up and engages in contact. In the process of engagement, he brilliantly squares his hips and simultaneously lowers his pad level to gain a leverage advantage on the massive blocker.