What I like-Mingo has the type of elite athletic ability that puts him among a rare group of players at his position. His quickness and burst alone make him a top prospect. Obviously Mingo is going to be drafted to rush the quarterback first and foremost, whether that’s by a 3-4 team looking to move him to outside linebacker or a 4-3 team that wants to put him wide on the weak side as a 9-technique end on passing downs.
What Mingo really excels at is getting upfield and using his balance he can get on that outside shoulder of the tackle and turn. Once he does that, it’s over. It forces the quarterback to step up and if they aren’t aware of it, he is right there waiting on them. His feet are quick, his hips are smooth and he does a nice job with his inside arm, getting up under the tackle. He is a high motor type of player as well and in most cases, he will continue to work and get after the football even when he loses initially.
In run support, Mingo’s greatest weapon is again his speed. He is fast enough to chase down a play of the backside if left unblocked and is agile enough to deal with smaller and quicker backs, cutting off points for them to run. Mingo looks to be a pretty smart player, and shows nice instincts for play diagnosis.
Back to the pass rush, Mingo did show flashes–more in 2011 than in 2012–to have a nice counter spin move and another counter pass rush where he fakes the outside step, uses his hands and comes back across the face of the defender. As I said, I didn’t see that nearly as much in 2012, as he opted more of the pure outside speed rush. When is able to force himself up field with that lightning quick first step, then put on the breaks and spin inside, he’s impossible to defend and it beats the double team on the outside.
What I don’t like-Mingo is a little undersized and I’m not sure he has a frame to let him get any bigger. While playing at 240 lbs isn’t the end of the world in a 4-3, he’s a situational player at that weight. I also have concerns with Mingo’s ability to tackle. In so many plays he made a great move, but beat his man, had a free run at the football and looked lost. He missed tackles and showed poor technique. I also question his ability to drop and cover on a consistent basis if he does play outside linebacker in a 3-4. He did a bit of it in college, but this could be another thing that makes him more of a situational player.
A final note on a concern I have about Mingo is if he can hold up against the physical game of the NFL. Big NFL linemen are going to get their mitts on his and he’s going to have to win those battles. They are also going to use their reach to extend him out of plays, so he must be smart, use his hands and be able to re-direct.
What it all means-As I read through my notes on Mingo and put this together, I felt like I was being too hard on him, so I went back and did a few re-watches and my opinion of him largely hasn’t changed. I think his potential as an edge rusher is great. You can’t coach the kind of speed.
I think his best option is to be used a lot like how the Seattle Seahawks use defensive end Bruce Irvin. Many of his best rushes in 2012 came on twists and stunts where he was able to come in clean and use his explosion right up the middle to disrupt the quarterback. They also use him in overload situations, where he can use that moment of hesitation the tackle will have to get by him. Mingo’s potential is high, but it’s short-sighted to ignore his shortcomings. He must become a better tackler if he wants to be successful in the NFL because getting to the quarterback is one thing, but bringing him down is something else.
If Mingo can get into the right scheme where he can be used in a way that optimizes what he does well, he’s an easy double digit sack player. The worry with an explosive and athletic player like him is that a team that he really doesn’t fit in will draft him anyway in hopes of finding a spot for him. We’ve seen too many good players go to the wrong team and they just can’t get traction. Mingo is a specialist in the NFL and on the right team, he can really be special.