How Will a 3-4 Defense Impact Barkevious Mingo?

Mike Hoag@MikeHoagJrCorrespondent IIMay 13, 2013

BEREA, OH - MAY 10: Barkevious Mingo #51 of the Cleveland Browns runs drills during rookie camp at the Cleveland Browns Training facility on May 10, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images


Barkevious Mingo is capable of becoming a dominant defender as an outside linebacker in the Cleveland Browns 3-4 defensive front.

Physical and athletic attributes are what attracted NFL teams to consider the 6’4”, 241-pounder as a key pass-rushing cog for the future of their defenses.

His talents were vividly on display during the scouting process.

In Indianapolis, Mingo wowed scouts with his athleticism. His 4.58 40-yard dash time opened eyes, but his 1.58 10-yard split was what really got people talking. Those numbers only solidified and amplified his chances of hearing his name called early in the first round of the 2013 draft.

Mingo is a proven explosive athlete who didn’t put up gaudy stats as a pass-rusher in college, but he was a disruptive player who demonstrated an explosive first step. That step was sometimes hidden by his contain duties as a 4-3 defensive end.

Allowing him to stand up as an outside linebacker will free him up to do what he does best—getting a hat on the ball-carrier and disrupting quarterbacks progressions.

Mingo will need to develop as a pass defender as well. As a stand-up player, he’ll need to be able to drop into coverage and sit in a zone, as well as pick up backs and tight ends off of the line of scrimmage.

Here’s a little look at what he may look like while rushing the passer on the shores of Lake Erie. 


Others to Make the Conversion

Mingo has the physical makeup of a dominant pass-rusher who also made the same conversion he is on the verge of executing. Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware (6’4”, 254 lbs) played with his hand in the dirt for four years at Troy University.

Like Mingo, Ware wasn’t a tremendously productive 4-3 defensive end in college. He tallied just 11 sacks during his four-year career there.

Also like Mingo, Ware was drafted with the 11th pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, due to his raw potential and explosive athleticism.

It’s going to take a tremendous effort to make as successful of a conversion as Ware, but he certainly has the talent to do so if groomed and given opportunities.

He won’t be asked to carry the Browns pass rush initially. Plus, he should get plenty of favorable matchups in Ray Horton’s attacking 3-4 defense.


Mingo in Ray Horton’s Defense

Could Mingo have found himself in a better position as an incoming NFL rookie? Horton has proven that he will utilize multiple fronts in addition to his base 3-4 scheme in order to get the most out of his players talents and capitalize on matchups.

His success in Arizona in 2012 can’t be understated. Without a dynamic talent like Mingo coming off of the edge, Horton’s defense led the NFL in passer rating allowed (71.2), first downs allowed (288) and points allowed per drive (1.42).

Sam Acho (6’3”, 257 lbs) was the focal point of his outside pass rush. Acho, a former college defensive end and fourth-round pick in 2011, is a lot of things, but he’s not as potentially explosive off of the edge as Horton’s new rookie pass-rusher.

The Cardinals linebacker was disruptive in 2012 under his former defensive coordinator, but he racked up just four sacks to go along with 21 hurries and nine QB hits, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Multiple fronts and matchups should afford Mingo the opportunity to eclipse Acho, even in a role that pales in comparison.

Horton is one of the most aggressive coordinators in the NFL. He sends blitzes from every angle, utilizing his inside linebackers as well to help thwart opposing passing games.

Daryl Washington led the Cardinals in sacks (nine) from his inside linebacker position last season. 


The Road Ahead

It might not happen overnight, but Mingo’s conversion to outside linebacker will showcase his athleticism and make the Browns ecstatic with their selection.

Getting him into favorable matchups while he develops his full arsenal of required talents will also guide him to hopefully become the caliber of pass-rusher that Ware has developed into.

It’s hard to imagine an individual with his skill set and the opportunities he’ll be afforded not achieving that lofty goal.