At 6'4", 241 pounds, Mingo possesses great length and terrific athleticism. He ran a 4.58 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine, demonstrating just how explosive he is.
Many critics point to Mingo's lack of production as a flaw. However, LSU, simply put, did not take advantage of Mingo's particular skill-set. The team often played him in contain, and refused to set him loose off the edge as a pass-rusher. That won't be the case in Cleveland.
Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton is one of the best defensive minds in football. His attacking 3-4 defense utilizes complex blitzes and uses players like Mingo off the edge. Mingo will play at outside linebacker in Cleveland's base defense, moving to defensive end on passing downs.
Because Mingo has never played linebacker, he will face a bit of an adjustment. At times, Mingo will have to play in coverage, something he has rarely done. However, he showed the ability to drop back in coverage drills at the Scouting Combine, and his quick hips and athleticism should help him out.
Mingo has often been criticized for his weak run-support. He's much better than advertised here, however. Mingo isn't overly big or strong, but he plays with good technique and rarely abandons contain. With a few more pounds, he can be above-average against the run.
But make no mistake about it, the Browns drafted Mingo to rush the passer. Pass-rushers everywhere envy Mingo's explosive first step, and he's far from a one-trick pony. Mingo is incredibly smooth and quick off the edge, showing the ability to bend and use countermoves.
Ming's pass-rush repertoire is versatile. He will use a spin move, swim move, crossover or simply use his quickness and speed to bend the edge. Offensive tackles can't go into a play expecting one move from Mingo, or he will cross them up.
Paul Kruger seems likely to play the strongside outside linebacker position. This leaves Mingo and Jabaal Sheard left to battle it out on the weak side, assuming Cleveland holds onto Sheard, of course. Mingo will be lining up on the outside, giving him the chance to work the edge and rush the passer. Horton will take the reins off Mingo.
Dion Jordan would have moved all over the field for the Browns. Cleveland likely won't get too complicated with Mingo. The team will have him do what he does best: attack the quarterback. And he will do it often.
While previously solid, Cleveland's front seven now has the looks of a terrific unit. Desmond Bryant, Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin is a formidable defensive line, capable of rushing the passer and stuffing the run. Mingo, Kruger, Sheard and D'Qwell Jackson at linebacker is also intimidating, especially when rushing the passer.
What are reasonable expectations for Mingo as a rookie? Depending on what Cleveland does with Jabaal Sheard, Mingo could start. If he doesn't, though, he will still see extensive playing time on passing downs. And Mingo could have an Aldon Smith-esque impact as a rookie in that capacity.
Mingo probably won't have a ton of tackles. And he won't make many tackles for loss against the run. But it is not unrealistic for him to pick up 15 sacks as a rookie. Cleveland has a strong defensive line, and Sheard and Kruger will keep offenses from keying in on Mingo too much.
In coverage, Mingo should be pretty solid. He'll need to work on his technique, and he will have to develop instincts. But the physical tools that help Mingo so much as a pass-rusher should make him just as impressive in coverage.
The Browns wanted to upgrade their pass rush, and the did that the best way they could have. With Paul Kruger locked in on end and Mingo coming up at the other, Cleveland could, for the first time in recent memory, have the makings of a productive pass rush.