Why the New Orleans Saints Must Draft LSU DE/OLB Barkevious Mingo

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Why the New Orleans Saints Must Draft LSU DE/OLB Barkevious Mingo
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

 

The New Orleans must draft Barkevious Mingo with the 15th pick in the upcoming NFL draft. It's really that simple. 

Sure, there is the romantic idea of trading back to somewhere around 25 to select Alex Okafor—the second best pass-rusher in an overrated (at least at the top of the draft) pass-rushing class.

Only Mingo and Okafor are sure-fire elite pass-rushers among the potential first-round selections. In truth, trading back to the latter segment of the first round would be an incredibly sweet deal for a Saints franchise cursed by a lack of draft picks in 2013.

But let’s quickly dispel the notion that it’s even possible. Are the Saints really going to trade with the San Francisco 49ers—the team with so few holes they don’t even need to draft this year—to give them yet another impact player? No.

Are the Bengals or Vikings desperate enough to move up a few picks to select an impact player in a draft as deep as this one? It is almost certain neither would make such a move.

And even if there were a legitimate trade partner, the Saints know they can stand pat at 15 and have their choice of two or three impact players—most likely Mingo, Okafor and Desmond Trufant.

Any of those three players would start from day one in black and gold. That’s the whole point of having a first-round pick—to find a starter, and hopefully an impact starter at that.

Why Mingo over Okafor and Trufant?

The truth is that all three are players the Saints should strongly consider, if any are available at 15. And if the Saints were to select any of the three, fans should rejoice at the most solid first-round pick made by Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton since the two began working together in 2006.

Let’s start with the basic statistics from Mingo’s three-year at LSU. 

 

 

Tackles

Def Int

Fumbles

Year

School

Conf

Class

Pos

Solo

Ast

Tot

Loss

Sk

Int

Yds

Avg

TD

PD

FR

Yds

TD

FF

2010*

Louisiana State

SEC

FR

DL

18

17

35

5.5

2.5

0

0

 

0

6

0

0

0

2

2011*

Louisiana State

SEC

SO

DL

21

25

46

15.0

8.0

0

0

 

0

2

0

0

0

1

2012*

Louisiana State

SEC

JR

DL

21

17

38

8.5

4.5

0

0

 

0

3

0

0

0

1

 

Louisiana State

 

 

 

60

59

119

29.0

15.0

0

0

 

0

11

0

0

0

4

Provided by Sports-Reference.com/CFBView Original Table
Generated 4/3/2013.

 

Notice Mingo put up 15 in just three seasons while playing in the highly competitive Southeastern Conference. Also see the tackles for loss (29 in three seasons, including an incredible 15 in 2011). Finally, notice the six passes defensed in 2010 when Mingo was just a freshman. 

Mingo is as good a player as there is in this draft. Just using basic college statistics, Mingo proves to be one of the top talents in this draft. He will be able to handle dropping into coverage, while also possessing the ability to pressure the quarterback with regularity. He'll be asked to do both in Rob Ryan's 3-4 scheme. 

He also projects as a fine playmaker on the defensive side of the ball. Saints fans know the team is constantly seeking that type of player. There is little doubt that Mingo will do the trick in that regard.

Versatility is great in a 3-4 outside linebacker. Let’s look specifically, though, at the “top-tier” pass-rushers in the 2013 draft. Not surprisingly, advanced metrics show that Mingo—followed by Okafor—is the draft’s finest pure pass-rusher.

 

 

Advanced Metrics


In a great piece by Greg Peshek of Second Round Stats and The Sideline View, which can be viewed in full version here, Mingo is seen to be ahead of the other "elite" pass-rushers in the 2013 class in most every category imaginable. 

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Peshek evaluates several different categories relevant to pass-rushers. He begins by comparing the top eight pass-rushers in the class in terms of how long it takes them on average per sack to reach the quarterback. 

He says that anything less than 3.5 seconds is a speed sack, while 3.5-to-5 is average and anything over 5.0 seconds is considered a coverage sack. Mingo and Okafor are the only two with zero coverage sacks. 

60 percent of Mingo's sacks were average, while 40 percent were considered speed sacks. Overall, his sack time came out to 3.63 seconds, second highest only to Okafor. Using these numbers, it is clear that Mingo is an explosive pass-rusher who excels with great burst off the snap. 

Other statistics will show us some more encouraging trends. 

Of Mingo's 15 college sacks, 40 percent (six) were had on speed rushes (when he simply ran around the edge), while 20 percent (three) came using a bull rush. The final 40 percent (six) came using inside techniques such as stunts, games and twists. 

This is important since Mingo would be asked to do such things in Rob Ryan's defense. That he has already shown a propensity to succeed on inside moves is a positive sign for any team running a defensive style similar to that of Ryan's. 

Mingo compares to his opponents favorably in terms of his versatility. His numbers are the most even, which means little else than that he is an easy player to evaluate.

Strength of schedule was taken into account. Though not a perfect measure, Peshek found Mingo to be facing the third most difficult group of lineman (because of Ezekiel Ansah's overall lack of statistical measurement, he does not qualify).

Yet all 15 of Mingo's college sacks came while an offensive player was actively seeking to block him. That was true of three of the other eight players, but each of them had a much lower strength of schedule being faced, meaning those players were beating lower-level players for their sack acquisition.

Mingo is clearly the most impressive in this category.  

One final breakdown (seen here) shows five of those eight players and quantifies each snap they played this past season. 

 

 

Sacks & Pressures Per Snap—Courtesy of Greg Peshek



       

Mingo

Werner

Jordan

Carradine

SPP

9.63

8.50

10.64

7.31

6.49

Pressures

28

31

17

31

29

Sacks

4.5

13

5

11

13.5

Snaps

313

374

234

307

276

There was an issue with formatting. The far right column is for Texas DE Alex Okafor. 


It is notable that Mingo applied pressure on the quarterback approximately once every 10 snaps. It is also notable that that margin is second-worst among the five players listed here. Of course, if Mingo applied pressure on the quarterback once every 10 snaps at the pro level, he’d be considered one of the elite pass-rushers in the entire NFL, since pressuring the quarterback is held as being just as valuable as actually sacking him.

It is also easy to explain that these snaps include running plays faced. It is not every 10 pass attempts. Finally, it should be noted that Mingo was considered LSU’s best pass-rusher and thus was given the most attention in offense’s pass pro schemes. And LSU blitzed a lot in 2013, meaning that of course a lot of pressure would be accumulated by players other than Mingo.

 

 

Film Study


I watched five full games of Mingo's (in addition to any other games I simply watched for enjoyment of LSU this past season) in evaluating and grading him. 

I concur with each of the strengths and weaknesses posted on this video. The 241-pound linebacker needs to continue to add strength and show that he can consistently handle blockers in the running game. 

But Saints fans should be encouraged if, and when, the team elects to draft Mingo due to his acumen for holding the point of attack and maintaining outside leverage on most running plays. That is one thing Ryan asks each of his outside linebackers to do, since they are essentially defensive ends. 

We've observed from advanced metrics his explosiveness to get to the quarterback. His change of direction and range from sideline to sideline are second to none in this class. That will allow him to chase ball-carriers down from behind, another staple of Ryan's defense. 

The tape shows all of these attributes coming to the forefront. We've also seen a great ability for Mingo to drop into coverage and make plays in the open field. 

He is a complete outside linebacker already, despite never actually playing the position at LSU. The Rob Ryan defense is the perfect transition to the position, as it allows him to play defensive end—only standing up instead of from a 3-point stance.  

It is those attributes (and his versatility as a whole) that makes him the more attractive player than Okafor, though Okafor is an equally adept pass-rusher. His overall playmaking skills are what make him the must-pick even over an equally enticing corner in Desmond Trufant. 

Again, all three would be great selections. But Mingo is the best of the three. 

 


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