Bark and Bite: The Barkevious Mingo hype-coaster and why he didn't work out in Cleveland

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The 2013 draft class, with some slight exceptions, was absolutely awful. The top three picks were a mediocre right tackle, a schlub who got kicked inside to guard, and an edge rusher who smoked himself out of the limelight with failed drug tests and bad circumstances. And yet, even at that time, many believed in Barkevious Mingo, the edge rusher from LSU who was a little bit light but had athleticism to spare.

Coming out of LSU, Barkevious Mingo was know as having the name of a Pokemon and the moves of a bengal tiger, utilizing his twitchiness and explosion to react at the snap and makes plays in the backfield of his opponents. As a senior, Mingo faced constant double teams and was forced to play more of an edge-setting role in LSU's defense, racking up 4.5 sacks and 8.5 TFL. The 6 foot 4 Mingo's stock stayed fairly consistent as a senior, although some began to hype a certain Oregon Duck over him due to his perceived projectability.

Mingo's Scouting Combine, as previously noted, was phenomenal. He showcased his physical gifts and was able to maintain his stock as well as he could, eventually getting picked by the Cleveland Browns at 6 overall. At the start of his tenure in the City on Fire, Mingo impressed in a variety of facets, catching the eye of many observers with both his defensive and special teams presences.

Mingo faced a slight setback in August of his rookie year, as he suffered a bruised lung and had to be admitted to the hospital. However, once the regular season started, Mingo starred in Ray Horton's defense. The rookie compiled five sacks on the year, including one on his very first regular season play.

Mingo was poised to burst onto the scene in 2014, but some circumstances in Cleveland limited his ability to grow. First of all, Mike Lombardi and Joe Banner with both given the boot, resulting in many of their additions becoming personas non-gratas in the Cleveland locker room. Secondly, the addition of Mike Pettine stunted Mingo's growth as a pass rusher. Pettine decided to utilize Mingo as a "space linebacker," similar to Calvin Pace in New York. This forced Mingo to play more coverage snaps rather than rush the passer. These factors, plus a shoulder injury he suffered against the Steelers in Week 1, seemed to spell doom for Barkevious.

Yet...somehow, he persevered and thrived, against all odds. PFF gave him a +14.0 grade at the end of the season, a high mark for such a young player. Although he only had two sacks, Mingo contributed in other ways, unselfishly helping the team however he could. Plus, when he got opportunities to rush the passer, he was able to make his presence felt routinely.

While there was optimism heading into 2014, Mingo broke camp in 2015 a bit underappreciated and underrated for his contributions. He also was recovering from shoulder surgery and, for some reason, did not vibe with new defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil, who said that Mingo would "have to earn playing time" against the likes of Scott Solomon, Nate Orchard, and Armonty Bryant.

Next on the docket of pain for Barkevious was a knee scope, that caused him to miss the entire preseason. This setback did not help Mingo's rift with O'Neil and the rest of the defense left the third year pro languishing for the remainder of the season. He played in every game but only started twice, and did not collect a sack. He and his agent were both unhappy, and per Dustin Fox, the Patriots were sniffing around Barkevious even then, offering a third round pick for him.

To me, Barkevious Mingo is still a potential star, a 25 year old with a ton of upside who was screwed over by bad coaching and awful usage. If Bill Belichick can harness the eye of the tiger that lives in Mingo, he has the potential to become the best pass rusher on the 2016 New England Patriots.

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