The Oakland Raiders need defensive players. There isn’t a position on defense in Oakland that couldn’t use an infusion of talent, but the need for a pass-rusher is the most glaring. A good pass rush helps the secondary and linebackers in coverage.
The Raiders are in luck because there is no shortage of pass-rushers in the 2013 NFL draft. Whether the Raiders trade down for more draft picks or keep their selection, there is likely to be a good pass-rusher available. One of the best in the class is LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo.
Only one team had fewer sacks in 2012 than the Raiders. It’s pretty clear that the Raiders need a pass-rusher, but not all pass-rushers are the same. Some pass-rushers have a quick first step and know how to use their hands and body to slip past their block, and others rely on their speed and bend to get around blockers.
When considering what kind of pass-rusher to draft, you have to consider what can and can't be taught. Jason Pierre-Paul was a very raw prospect and made it to the NFL and blossomed. Mingo has an abundance of traits that can’t be taught, which makes him a very attractive college prospect.
The one thing that coaches will love about Mingo is that his motor runs nonstop. Mingo is always flying to the ball and he’s making an impact on every play. The new regime is trying to change the culture in Oakland, but the coaches can only do so much. The players have to set that example, and Mingo is that kind of player.
Mingo’s athleticism really stands out, and Texas A&M right tackle Jake Matthews even had trouble slowing him down. Matthews is considered one of the better tackles in college football. The greatest test of any pass-rusher is going against an elite tackle and a mobile quarterback, and that’s just what happened when LSU played Texas A&M in 2012.
One of Mingo’s best moves is a vicious spin move. It’s one of his greatest assets in getting quickly to the quarterback. In one case against Texas A&M, Johnny Manziel threw an interception once he was flushed out of the pocket by Mingo’s spin move. Mingo gets nothing on his stat sheet to show for it, but that doesn’t mean he’s not making an impact.
Mingo stands 6’5” and has excellent length. This length can be put to good use batting down passes because Mingo is always aware of what’s going on in front of him. A lot of speed rushers try to play so fast that they don’t realize it’s a quick drop and end up opening up a passing lane for the quarterback, but not Mingo.
Mingo isn’t perfect. He drops his hands and he hasn’t developed other pass-rush moves you would expect from a player with his pure athleticism. Mingo also isn’t a great wrap-up tackler, and he often struggles to bring players down.
You’d probably like Mingo to be bigger, but he’s actually done a decent job against the run, and he can add weight to his frame if needed. Mingo will be rushing the quarterback the majority of the time at the NFL level, and he can still make impact plays in the run game with his athleticism.
The Raiders tried to get by with players like Dave Tollefson and Andre Carter as the primary pass-rushers, but neither were able to get to the quarterback quickly or consistently. There weren’t many defensive ends worse at rushing the passer than Matt Shaughnessy in 2012, and the Raiders need a player to complement him if he’s re-signed.
Mingo should definitely be high on the Raiders’ draft board in April, and don’t be surprised if his stock soars at the combine to the point that the Raiders consider taking him with the No. 3 pick.