Mingo adds to Browns pass rush group
BEREA, Ohio -- The next time Joe Banner says the Cleveland Browns priority is to get after the quarterback and they are not leaning toward taking a quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft … well … let’s get on board.
Because with the sixth pick, the Browns bypassed a quarterback (thank goodness) and took the best pass rusher available, which isn’t all that bad when it’s all taken into consideration.
The Browns have overloaded on outside linebackers now, with free agent signee Paul Kruger and converted defensive end Jabaal Sheard and free agent signee Quentin Groves and, now, first-round pick Barkevious Mingo of LSU.
If it means anything, the Browns had a trade in place if Mingo was already taken, but they turned it down to take Mingo.
“This was the outcome we were hoping for,” CEO Joe Banner said.
The thinking is to load up on pass rushers and not force a pick to fill a need. They felt Mingo was a better fit than cornerback Dee Milliner, so they took him.
It’s a solid choice, and at the least it’s good the Browns did not force the issue on one of the quarterbacks, but in a draft that didn’t have a ton of standouts, it’s a choice that also has questions.
Mingo is a lean 245-pounds, which seems small for an NFL linebacker.
But he made that weight work in the SEC.
His numbers dropped from his junior to senior season, from eight sacks and 15 tackles for a loss to 4.5 and 8.5.
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Mingo was still disruptive, though. In his time at LSU, he did have 27 quarterbacks hits and four forced fumbles.
Finally, Mingo was not considered on the same level as the two pass rushers who went ahead of him: Ziggy Ansah (to Detroit) and Dion Jordan (to Miami via trade).
The Browns don’t care. He was the guy they had their eye on, they wanted him and they got him.
If there are questions, there are questions about every pick. The Browns are being true to their stated beliefs: They started the offseason intent on building a pass rush, and they are doing what they can to build a pass rush.
They’ve added and shifted enough guys to bring waves of rushers, which sounds good -- in theory at least.
“You can’t have enough pass rushers,” coach Rob Chudzinski said.
Banner again warned that the Browns will not fill every need this offseason. And he said (again) that the team will not stretch to take a player to fill a need. This could be why they preferred Mingo over Milliner, who has had five surgeries in a short life.
Chudzinski said the team wants guys “who can run, hit and are relentless.” Mingo seems to fit that. He’s lightning-quick and could take advantage of lumbering tackles.
But he’s lean, he’s rarely dropped into coverage and he’s not polished. Mel Kiper even said on ESPN that he has to develop pass-rush moves, an odd analysis of a pass-rusher.
Chudzinski phrased it that Mingo “has plenty of room for growth.” He also said that Sheard will be on the team, that Sheard has impressed him with his willingness to switch positions.
Mingo will be switching as well. He played almost exclusively with his hand on the ground at end and will have to adjust to linebacker.
So the questions are legitimate.
But so was the Browns desire to get after guys named Roethlisberger and Dalton and Flacco.
Chudzinski said NFL defense starts with the pass rush, that there are too many good and accurate passers who can beat good corners given time. Taking that time away is vital.
In a draft that isn’t considered strong or deep, most picks will have questions. So be it.
For a team off to yet another new start, developing a pass rush is a start.