With the 2012 NFL season in the books, and the scouting combine in the rear-view, it's time to take a closer look at the 50 players we think will be the biggest difference-makers at the next level from this draft class. To that end, we're happy to continue this year's Shutdown 50 scouting reports (Hint: There may actually be more than 50). You can read last year's group here. The final 50 players were chosen and ranked based on game tape, combine and Pro Day results, overall positional value, and attributes and liabilities on and off the field.
#17: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
We continue this year's series with LSU defensive end/outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo, who has as much pure athletic upside as any player in this draft class, and he can be pretty scary when everything comes together. After redshirting in 2009, Mingo started to show what the combination of near-defensive back speed and his 6-foot-4 frame could do in 2010. He put up 18 solo tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, six passes defensed, and two forced fumbles with just one start. He really blew it wide open in 2011 -- 21 solo tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks, two passes defensed, and a forced fumble.
LSU's switch to more of a "mush-rush" defense, in which pass rushers were asked to read and react more often, didn't do much for Mingo's pressure stats, but he was able to prove that he looked good in coverage and could disrupt at the line by getting his hands up. He matched his solo tackle number from the year before in 2012, but had just 8.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Had opposing blockers figured him out, or was Mingo just a "victim" of a scheme change?
Certainly, nobody was going to question his measurables after the scouting combine, when he posted the second-fastest 40-yard dash time among defensive ends (4.57), the best three-cone time (6.89), and the sixth-best short shuttle time (4.39).
Weighing in at 241 pounds at the combine, Mingo isn't the traditional defensive end who will play the run with authority, and he's going to need some work as a true pass-rusher from any gap in the NFL. However, the lack of a pure athletic ceiling will excite a lot of teams, and Mingo will be really special if he can find the right coaching staff.
Pros: Possesses rare length and burst off the snap -- comes off the ball very quickly and gains an impressive edge with first-step speed. Gains pass pressure by rocketing past tackles' outside shoulders before his blockers can establish their pass set, and gaining on quarterbacks after plays have broken down. Not a bull-rusher per se, but is able to generate impressive power through his speed when taking blockers straight on. Has an embryonic spin move that could be devastating if he develops it -- for now, it's more of a bailout move. Very quick defender from sideline to sideline. Clearly has the quickness to break off into coverage. Takes the occasional play off, but is generally very good at keeping his motor running, and he'll become especially dangerous when the offense is forced to improvise.
Can be nearly impossible to block when he actually reads gaps and employs his ferocious agility. Uses raw footwork at times, but was obviously asked to use his speed as opposed to learning advanced pass-rush techniques. Relatively impressive pass-rush numbers for a player who was asked to read keys at the line pretty frequently, especially in the 2012 season. Sack numbers don't tell the whole story of his play -- will frequently create pass pressure and amasses high tackle for loss totals. Shows a great deal of potential as a pure pass-rusher when used further outside in five-man fronts and other varied front concepts. Mentioned that he put on 15 pounds in the off-season without losing quickness, which would help his game a lot.
Cons: Played end for LSU but will likely have to transition outside to linebacker to best exploit his speed in the pros. Generally runs straight at, or around, tackles, and needs a far more comprehensive and consistent array of hand moves and counters to make his edge velocity work. Struggles to dislodge from blockers; tends to wrestle at the line more than he pursues at times. Comes off the snap high at times and can be blocked out pretty easily by tight ends and running backs. Forward motion player who struggles to redirect off the rush. Stunted inside a bit but needs to work on that aspect of his game some more.
Speed exceeds his on-field instincts at times -- Mingo lunges as a tackler and doesn't always show optimal awareness in space. Comes down on the run game well, but needs work on his tackling technique -- doesn't wrap up all the time and will arm-tackle too often. Needs more experience at different positions and in different gaps -- was a bit of a one-trick pony at LSU. Played with his hand on the ground and would need to learn to play as a two-point "endbacker."
Conclusion: Though he played end for the Tigers most of the time, I'm not sure that's Mingo's best position -- unless he develops many of the techniques required to be elite in the NFL as a pass-rusher. Right now, he gets away with things against lesser tackles that tend to render him invisible against better blockers, and that issue could expand through his early pro career. He's not really a "boom-or-bust" player; more the kind of player who needs to learn a few things he should have been taught in college.
NFL Comparison: Bruce Irvin, Seattle Seahawks
More Shutdown 50:
#50: Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State | #49: John Jenkins, DL, Georgia | #48: Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, DE, Florida State | #47: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State | #46: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse | #45: E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State | #44: Margus Hunt, DE, SMU | #43: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson | #42: Kyle Long, OL, Oregon | #41: Mike Glennon, QB, North Carolina State | #40: Jonathan Cyprien, SS, Florida International | #39: Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame | #38: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU | #37: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama | #36: Johnthan Banks, DB, Mississippi State | #35: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama | #34: Matt Barkley, QB, USC | #33: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas | #32: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford | #31: Matt Elam, SS, Florida | #30: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas | #29: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M | #28: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State | #27: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia | #26: Robert Woods, WR, USC | #25: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU | #24: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama | #23: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington | #22: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal | #21: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame | #20: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas | #19: Sheldon Richardson, CB, Florida State | #18: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State