As if the New England Patriots’ front seven wasn’t loaded enough, they just added a former top-10 draft pick to their defense.
The Patriots acquired Barkevious Mingo, the sixth overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, in a trade with the Cleveland Browns on Thursday. If the Patriots view Mingo as an edge rusher, he’ll join Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, Chris Long, Trey Flowers, Shea McClellin, Geneo Grissom and Rufus Johnson in an already-crowded group.
It’s possible the Patriots believe they can play Mingo as an edge rusher and at linebacker, similar to how they used Akeem Ayers in 2014 and potentially how they plan to deploy Ninkovich and McClellin.
Mingo has prototypical size for a Patriots linebacker at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds. He ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash in the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine and also posted a blazing 6.84-second three-cone, 4.39-second short shuttle, 37-inch vertical leap and 10-foot, 8-inch broad jump.
One NFL scout, whom NESN.com contacted to see if Mingo can play linebacker, praised the three-year NFL veteran’s speed and said he showed potential in coverage as a rookie. The scout also said former Browns general manager Michael Lombardi, who worked as an assistant to the Patriots’ coaching staff in 2014 and 2015, “loved him,” which explains why he drafted Mingo in Cleveland.
So why was Mingo traded after just three seasons? He has trouble keeping on weight, which limits his strength and his ability to beat NFL offensive linemen off the edge. The scout also noted Mingo hasn’t improved during his NFL career.
The scout said Mingo “probably would be better in the 4-3 where he can just pin his ears back and rush. But he still lacks ideal pass-rush moves and is only a run-around-the-edge guy. (He) can’t generate speed to power.”
Mingo had five sacks as a rookie, and that total dropped to two sacks and then zero in his next two seasons. He hasn’t lived up to his billing, but some time with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick can only help. Mingo had 15 sacks in three seasons at LSU before leaving for the NFL after his junior season.
The Patriots had success with Sheard, another former Browns pass rusher who never lived up to his potential, after acquiring him last year in free agency. Sheard was New England’s most productive pass rusher in 2015 and is set to start at right defensive end once he heals from a knee injury.
The Patriots lack depth at linebacker, with Jonathan Freeny, rookies Kamu Grugier-Hill and Elandon Roberts, special-teamers Ramon Humber and Brandon King, and Kevin Snyder backing up Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins. They’re currently banged up at pass rusher, too, with Sheard, Ninkovich and McClellin missing practice because of injuries.
Mingo brings depth at defensive end, with the potential to add versatility on the Patriots’ front seven, which could align with three- and four-man fronts.
It hasn’t been reported what the Patriots gave up to acquire Mingo, but it’s likely not much, and he clearly possess potential as a former top-10 pick.
Mingo is the second top-10 pick from the 2013 NFL Draft that the Patriots have acquired via trade this offseason. Guard Jonathan Cooper, the seventh overall pick in that draft, was part of the package the Arizona Cardinals sent to New England for defensive end Chandler Jones.
Thumbnail photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports Images