Barkevious Mingo had an active debut in the Browns preseason opener against the Rams. He showed everything of what he can bring to the team both on defense and special teams, but also showed how much he still has to work on to become the player he was drafted to be. That speed and motor make him a great weapon for Ray Horton to use on the defense which can cover up for some of the holes in his game, but the fact he is still a work in progress while splashing as much as he did shows just how much room for growth he possesses.
The first look at Mingo in the game came on kick coverage which was likely a shock to a large number of fans, but with the four outside linebackers they have, Mingo and Quentin Groves will have to contribute on special teams. Mingo immediately showed just how fast he is as he was the first man down on coverage and made an open field tackle. Later, on the second kickoff, he was not the player who made the tackle, but he was still the first man down on coverage. While he needs to gain weight as the local media has been pointing out over and over, his speed at 240lbs is incredible.
When Mingo was in at outside linebacker, he and Groves were a nice combination rushing the passer. While predominately working against the Rams second team offensive line which is behind a bad starting offensive line to begin with, they looked impressive as they should. In one situation, Groves was able to beat his man around the edge while Mingo bull rushed an H-Back into the backfield and met at the quarterback with Groves getting the sack.
Mingo showed his speed with how he ran the arc, but too often he ended up running too far outside and taking himself out of plays. He did mix things up by showing an inside rush which suited in a hit on the quarterback as well as flashing a snap spin move which looked like it can be effective with further development and more snaps.
One of the areas that makes Mingo jump out on tape is his motor and the fact he will play through the echo of the whistle. Even though he did not have a ton of success on his first moves, he was able to make an impression on a number of plays on second and third efforts and he beat opponents on pure effort. In the end, Mingo was able to record the first of what will hopefully be many sacks in his Browns career as well as a number of pressures, though it was negated by a penalty elsehwere.
Mingo is a terrific fit in Horton’s scheme and the presence of Paul Kruger and Jabaal Sheard make it do they can use him as a specialist and weapon on defense as opposed to having to try to become a full time starter immediately. This might be a source of frustration for Browns fans as he was a top 10 pick, but he was picked more for next year. Mingo can still be an impact player and have a great rookie campaign, but his focus will be slightly more narrow this year. He was drafted to be an elite pass rusher and that is going to almost all of his focus for this year.
Mingo had an impressive debut but he needs to build on it and continue progressing with his technique and his ability to hold up at the point of attack. The weight will come with time but he brings an element of speed and chaos to this defense that should be a ton of fun for Horton to play with as well as the fans to watch this year. Mingo has a lot of work to do but if last night was any indication, it will be difficult to stop watching him while he is on the field and opposing teams are going to be watching him too.