BEREA — The Browns hope their top pick fits in as well as his name does.
Barkevious Mingo thinks it’s pretty neat to join the Dawg Pound.
“(My name) is very fitting,” Mingo said. “I’m very excited. It’s a lifelong dream and coming to a team and city that loves football.”
Rob Chudzinski referred to Mingo as ‘Keke’ throughout the press conference.
It’s obvious the Browns are hoping to put so much pressure on opposing quarterbacks that the defensive backs won’t have to cover very long.
“It all starts with pass rushers and trying to affect the quarterback with the pass rush helps your back end in coverage,” Chudzinski said. “It’s been a priority for us. We want a strong front with guys that can run and getting to the quarterback is a key element. We obviously found some guys in free agency and we felt the same way about Keke and we’re happy to have him.”
Mingo (6-4, 241) ran a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash. NFLDraftScout.com described Mingo as a ‘quick twitch pass rusher with extraordinary upside, but never produced up to expectations in Baton Rouge’.
Browns CEO Joe Banner summed up the importance of the pass rush at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
“The game is fundamentally about preventing pressure on your quarterback and getting pressure on the opposing team’s quarterback,” Banner said. “If you can do that, you have a chance to win any game against any team.”
Mike Lombardi talked in the draft preview about there being some good pass rushers in this draft.
“Like in most draft, there’s always guys that can rush the passer and I think this draft has several guys that can do that,” Lombardi sad. “So it’s more than just rush the passer, it’s trying to make sure you find guys that can do a little bit of everything.”
Banner said Mingo was the guy the Browns targeted with the sixth pick and had draft offers, but felt taking Mingo was the better way to go.
“We’ve been talking about the same things,” Banner said. “We talked about bringing in aggressive players. This was the outcome we were hoping for and we feel very good about this.
“We’ve been talking to people (about trades) and did have some opportunities, but felt too strong about the player.”
Banner did say that the Browns had a trade in place if Mingo wasn’t available to them.
Chudzinski said that defensive coordinator Ray Horton was very involved in the process. Horton has to be happier than a kid in the candy store.
The Browns loaded up on pass rushers this off-season as they signed Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves in free agency and used their first pick to take Mingo. They also added defensive lineman Desmond Bryant.
Jabaal Sheard is being converted to outside linebacker and some thought he would be dispensable with the addition of Mingo, but Chudzinski was asked if there was still room for Sheard.
“Absolutely. We’ve been very impressed with Jabaal and his ability to make the adjustment to the 3-4,” he said. “Adding Keke to the mix gives us another solid rusher. You can’t have enough pass rushers.”
Mingo is excited on how he will be used.
“I talked to coach Horton and he told me how they wanted to use me in this scheme,” Mingo said. “He said they needed pass rushers and wanted somebody to get to the quarterback.”
Mingo is excited to play in Horton’s aggressive defensive.
“I agree with the point that the teams won’t be able to predict where I’m coming from,” he said. “The scheme on both sides of the ball is aggressive.”
Mingo had 15 sacks in three seasons at LSU, including 8 as a sophomore and 4.5 as a junior. He had 119 tackles in his career with 29 tackles for loss and 27 quarterback pressures.
Chudzinski said the drop in sack totals doesn’t tell the story about Mingo.
“One of the things you look at is not just sack totals, but how disruptive he is,” he said. “The pressures on the quarterback, the batted balls, making quarterbacks step up and over the course of his career he had the production.”
One question for Mingo converting to outside linebacker is he wasn’t asked to drop back in coverage at LSU, but Chudzinski doesn’t see it as a problem.
“We think from a physical standpoint that he can make the adjustment and he would be able to do that with his skill set,” he said. “For the most part, he did not. He’ll have to work on that and it’s just a matter of him getting out there and doing it.”
Mingo said that he isn’t worried about the adjustment.
“I just have to want to get there and have a quick step and that’s what they liked about me.”
Mingo agrees his speed and quickness will help him excel at the next level.
“I think my speed separates me from every other guy in this draft,” Mingo said at the combine. “I’m a fast guy and I’ve got a quick first step and I like getting to the quarterback.”
“His athleticism speaks for itself,” he said. “He’s just an explosive player. He’s been battle-tested in the SEC, but still has plenty of room for growth. We see him as an explosive pass rusher.”
NFL Network Analyst Mike Mayock described Mingo this way.
“He’s explosive. He’s quick,” he said. “He can win at the snap. He can dip. He can bend. I mean, this is a guy with tremendous potential as a pass rusher, and that is what this league’s about.
“When he was on the move, I thought he was almost unstoppable,” he said. “When he was lined up on an island by himself against a quality tackle, I thought he struggled a little bit.”
Ironically, Mingo is expected to make his NFL debut against the Dolphins, who was selected by Miami at the third spot after a trade up. It is believed the Browns were interested in Jordan. Mingo wants to prove he is the better player.
“I think I’m the best pass rusher,” he said. “Hopefully, in Week One of the season, I show that.”
Mingo said he wants to someday to just make it down the road from Cleveland.
“I think I’ll be as good as I want to be and I want to be great,” he said. “And I want to be a player that ends up in Canton.”