When a team selects a player in the top of any given NFL Draft, the odds are that expectations will be sometimes disproportionately high one said player. With the Cleveland Browns, their selection of Barkevious Mingo out of LSU with the sixth overall selection in this past April’s draft put some immediate anticipation on what he could provide to the team. As of right now, the jury is still out on what to expect in year one.
During minicamp, the Browns were using Mingo behind veteran free agent addition Paul Kruger and incumbent leading pass rusher Jabaal Sheard. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the rookie won’t be used in the upcoming season, but he may not earn a starting gig.
“Right now, the other two guys are better,” outside linebackers coach Brian Baker told The Plain Dealer during minicamp. “Every place I’ve been, I’ve always played the best guys and played those guys in the best positions. So if Barkevious beats one of those guys out, he’ll be a starter. Until then, they’re the starters.”
It seems simple enough to say, but the fact that Mingo hasn’t been wowing coaches as of yet is a bit concerning for a Browns franchise that hasn’t exactly had the best luck in the draft during their reincarnated history. Busts like Tim Couch and Courtney Brown still haunt the franchise as picks that were highly touted yet never panned out.
Clearly Mingo is going to get playing time, and at a position like outside linebacker where the team will utilize a rotation it really doesn’t matter who starts. Affectionately known as “KeKe”, Mingo has some serious upside potential that could really lead to big things for the lean pass rusher.
He told USA Today immediately after the draft that he expected to come in and fight for a job coming into camp. That type of attitude will go a long way in determining just how successful KeKe is in his first season with Cleveland. With the team having Sheard already entrenched at the position and big-time free agent acquisition Kruger joining the squad this offseason, Mingo has some solid mentors to learn from as a rookie.
Lining up against a tackle the caliber of Joe Thomas will certainly help him hone his craft over the years as well. If a pass rusher can learn to beat arguably the top left tackle in the business on a daily basis in practice, going up against the opposition’s blindside protectors should be a breeze.
Training camp will go a long way in determining just how much of the field KeKe sees in year one, but it wouldn’t be outlandish to expect him to see around 50 percent of the defensive snaps in 2013. It’s going to be a learning process for Mingo as a rookie, and he will likely have some streaky play this coming season.