+Test tube defensive end with as much raw physical upside as anyone on the planet
+Astounding long speed
+Has the most projectable frame I’ve ever senn
+Has the fluidity of a corner
+Jaw dropping quickness off the ball from the 5 technique
+Rubber like flexibility
+Lots of potential in coverage
+Good instincts against the pass
+Has the physical skill set of a guy who could get 200 sacks in a career
-Needs to add a lot of strength (frame definitely has room for bulk)
-Poor instincts against the run
-Needs to improve hand usage
-Overaggressive as a pass rusher
-Weak tackler that can’t control his body
Whoa. That’s what I say whenever I watch LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo. He is just a breathtaking site to behold. This guy has all the physical tools to become the best player in the NFL. I’ve never seen someone who simply oozes upside like Barkevious Mingo. Some of the things you see him do on film is just amazing. Truly breathtaking. And he has the potential to be simply amazing in the NFL. But there is a lot of risk involved here too.
I want to start off by talking about his build and measurables. Ya see that picture up there? That is a picture of a man who is 6’5, 245lbs. Looks a lot skinnier than that, doesn’t he? More like a wide receiver? That’s because every single pound of weight on his body is muscle, and, as a result, he is 245lbs and moves like a corner. That’s why I say he has the most projectable frame I have ever seen; he really needs to add strength. Looking at him, do you think there is room for some extra muscle on his frame? Obviously. Mingo has room for about 30lbs of muscle on his frame, and he shouldn’t lose much speed. Plus, hey, he can afford to sacrifice a little bit of speed. 4.46 40 (and I can tell you that’s not an exaggeration)? No defensive end needs to be that fast. It’s not even fair, anyway. That’s why I call him a test tube defensive end. I would add an inch of height, but, beyond that, I couldn’t design a more perfect physical specimen to play defensive end in the NFL. He’s that good physically.
As a pass rusher, Mingo is good right now and but has the physical tools necessary to break pass rushing records. To start things off, he has more quickness from the 5 technique than any player I have ever seen and probably ever will see (watch last year’s SEC championship for proof). This guy gets an incredible jump off the ball and the rate at which he gains speed is probably as high as the rate that nose tackles run (meaning, I wouldn’t be surprised if he accelerates at a rate of 7 m/s^2 while many nose tackles run at a rate of 6.9 m/s). Mingo reaches full speed in no time at all, and he anticipates the snap very well, which can result in linemen simply being overwhelmed by his quickness. He is also a ridiculously fluid athlete with amazing hips and the second greatest spin move I have ever seen (Dwight Freeney has him beat with the spin move), and he makes sharp cuts and change directions like receivers and corners. His quickness is so overwhelming that offensive linemen try to get a head start by lining up as far away from the line of scrimmage as possible (they often get flagged for it), but he can still beat them because if he sees a linemen backing up really far off the line of scrimmage, he darts outside then makes a ridiculously fluid cut into the B gap and just kills the quarterback. It’s truly a sight to behold. He also has incredible flexibility that allows him to get awesome leverage on the speed rush, and he knows how to stay low.
On the downside, that’s the only thing he knows how to do as a pass rusher. His quickness is incredible, and he knows how to use his flexibility, but he has other pass rushing tools he needs to develop that could make him the next Lawrence Taylor instead of the next Dwight Freeney. Again, his quickness alone means that he probably will rush the quarterback as effectively as Freeney, but considering his long arms and a frame that bodes well for 30lbs of muscle, this guy is loaded with strength and pass rush move potential. At this point, he is extremely raw in terms of his hand usage (never uses a pass rush move in his life), but, considering his incredibly long arms, he has the potential to dominate with his hands if he develops his pass rush moves. Again, he’s not too strong right now, but he has the room for 30lbs of muscle on his frame, and if he adds that muscle, it will allow him to control the arms of opposing linemen as well as get an awesome initial punch to get offensive linemen off balance. Even without a ton of strength, he can still get a good initial punch, because he hits opponents like a bullet. A bullet may not be too massive, but it still hurts when it hits you, and Mingo can have that same effect even without strength, though he is yet to really harness this ability. If he adds strength and learns to dominate with his hands, there’s no reason he can’t become the next Lawrence Taylor.
Here’s a little not very widely known fact about Freeney; he sucks versus the run. Why? Because he tries to get outside the tackle on every play. Against the run, opposing offensive linemen feel comfortable letting him take his momentum way too far upfield and over-pursuing to the point that he takes himself out of the play. The Colts are willing to put up with this because his usefulness as a pass rusher does more than offset this problem he has against the run. Right now, for Mingo, it’s a similar story for him against the run. That’s part of the reason I said that he needs to learn how to use his hands and use his strength to knock opposing linemen off balance. If he can learn how to create pressure using methods other than the speed rush, then he doesn’t have to take himself out of the play against the run by taking himself too far upfield. Regardless, Mingo still has a ton of work left to do as a run stopper. His instincts are poor, he’s only average from disengaging from blocks, he needs a lot of strength, he can’t penetrate (good hand usage would help), and he’s an overrated tackler. He has no body control whatsoever and constantly over-pursues the ball carrier, plus he lacks strength and could afford to be a bit more physical as a tackler. Still, if he adds strength and improves his hand usage, he’ll still be respectable against the run, though his mediocre instincts are a reason for concern.
Mingo is widely considered to be very versatile, but many wonder what his best position is. I’m actually going to say 4-3 defensive end. Although many people astutely point out his potential for dominance in coverage (especially against tight ends), I respond by saying that Mingo has once in a lifetime quickness from the 5 technique and that tool should be utilized with him playing on the line of scrimmage and nowhere else. Of course, he will need bulk to play 4-3 end, but I still think it’s his best fit. Don’t let his ability to anticipate snaps and get an awesome jump off the ball go to waste.
Mingo has mediocre stats. In 2011, he had 46 tackles and 8 sacks. That’s fine and all, but it pales in comparison to Jarvis Jones. He only has 23 tackles and 3 sacks 8 games into 2012. Again, this guy is more about potential, but you’d like to see a bit more production at the college level.
Ultimately, Mingo must be one of the biggest high risk, high reward prospects the draft will ever see in the top 5. His potential is, well, you name it, he could do it. Still, his lack of instincts and strength are major reasons for concern. But he has so much upside that most scouts can’t help but drool when they watch him. And he can’t fall out of the top 5.
NFL Comparison: Dwight Freeney, but taller and longer
Grade: 99 (worthy of a top 3 pick)
Projection: 99 (will be a top 3 pick)