Cleveland Browns 2013 Draft – Round 1 – Pick #6 – Barkevious (“Keke”) Mingo
The Browns chose to bolster their defense (primarily pass rushing) on Thursday night with the former LSU standout.
Pros: After signing free agents Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves, the Browns began their transition into the 3-4 defense by getting experienced linebackers. The acquisition of Keke will now take pressure off these two veterans; double teams will likely not be as prevalent against the tremendous edge rushers. In passing situations, opposing offenses will now have to look across the entire field or their quarterback will be sacked (or hurried or hit) repeatedly.
In addition to getting to signal callers, Mingo has shown an ability to slow down running backs. Clearly this will have to develop against better talent in the NFL, but if he does this, the former LSU star will prove his worth as a full-time player. Where he can make is mark, is consistently tackling ball carriers for losses.
The speed of the outside linebacker is undeniable – the scouting combine is proof. In the 40-yard dash, the athlete ran an incredible 4.58 seconds and was the top performer in the three-cone shuttle (with a time of 6.84 seconds). His quick burst will be paramount for success with the Browns, and hopefully he can get behind larger, offensive linemen right after the snap.
Off the field, Mingo comes across like a “nice” guy (which was verified in his first press conference on Friday) – he is intelligent and cordial. However, between the sidelines I envision a nasty leader who is very destructive on most plays. This is the type of mentality the team needs to possess – opponents must be concerned when game planning for these defenders.
Cons: Many believe that, while the front seven could use an upgrade, the secondary was in more of a dire situation. After the first round completed, the Browns were still seeking another starting cornerback opposite Joe Haden (who can play exceptionally). Hopefully, the Browns can find a gem in the middle rounds to fill that need; if they do not, the team could struggle against the pass in 2013.
Playing in a 4-3 defensive system in college, Mingo was a defensive end; however he will have to learn a new position in Ray Horton’s 3-4 defense. There are several recent examples of players who failed to transition in the league – especially very early draft picks (i.e. Vernon Gholston, Aaron Curry). Obviously the current Browns’ selection has no correlation to those, but recent history is not on his side.
Playing against larger athletes, the belief is that the outside linebacker must put on weight – as he admitted to being just 237 pounds (or sixty pounds lighter than the average offensive lineman). If he remains at that size, Mingo might either get pushed around or injured. The other worry is that after putting on pounds, there is a chance this could hinder the athlete’s dynamic speed. Strength and conditioning will be key in the growth of Keke’s professional career.
My Take: This was a solid selection by the Cleveland Browns; currently I do not love the pick but I do not hate it either. It’s a high risk, high reward option – coming from a regime that was viewed as conservative; it was refreshing to see this aggressiveness. With proper coaching and scheming, Mingo can hopefully prosper in the defense for a long time.
I believe he epitomizes the type of defense this team wants – a fast, physical, and disruptive force (for opponents to deal with). I anticipate the Browns easing him in (during passing situations), and increasing his workload as the season progresses. The defense desperately needs a sack artist – they have improved recently in making life arduous for opponents, but they want to become one of the best. If I had to grade it, I would give the selection a B, but I hope that improves down the road.