BEREA—Bringing up one name can cause fear amongst Browns fans.
The former Ohio State star was taken sixth-overall, by the Jets in 2008 and failed to make the conversion from defensive end in college to a stand up linebacker in the NFL. He had no sacks in his three seasons with the Jets before he was released. He was signed by the Bears and Rams, but released before he played and is currently out of football.
Barkevious Mingo is confident that won’t happen when he was asked about it.
“I guess just my work ethic,” Mingo said as he was introduced to Browns media in Berea Friday. “At LSU, I played with a high motor. Every play I wanted to get a sack and that mindset helped me with everything else. Plus, we have two great coaches here that are committed to building me up.”
Mingo set his sights high before he has even taken the field.
“I think I can be as good as I want to be and I want to be great,” he said. “I want to be one of those guys that get their name called in Canton, Ohio and be a dominant player.”
One of the concerns is making the transition to outside linebacker in the NFL is players are asked to do things they’ve not done before.
“I just have to want to get there,” he said. “I have high energy, a quick first step, be first to the ball and that’s what they like about me. That’s what they wanted to add to their team and I feel I can bring that.”
Mingo said he’s not concerned with making the adjustment.
“I did it a few times while I was at LSU.” He said. “Not too much, but I don’t think it’s a pretty big deal. It will be an adjustment from playing defensive end to outside linebacker. It will be just learning to drop and cover.”
Nor is Rob Chudzinksi, who felt comfortable enough to take him with the sixth pick overall.
“He’ll have to work on that, like I said before from a physical standpoint, it’s just a matter of getting out and working,” Chudzinski said. “(Browns linebacker coach) Brian Baker will do a great job with him working on the drops and understanding the spots he needs to get to and how to match up with receivers and those things.
“Then, just the mental side of it and knowing and understanding coverage, something that he’s done some of but not a lot of before.”
Mingo concluded saying he’s confident he’ll be able to make the transition.
“Like I said, with the coaches we have and with the talent level I have (I’ll be fine).”
Mingo was asked after being drafted Thursday night and then again at his opening press conference why his production seemed to drop this past season after a banner year as a sophomore with eight sacks. His totals dropped to 4.5 sacks, but he did have 12 quarterback pressures last season, up from 11 in 2010.
“I thought I played better (last season),” he said. “Teams were doing a lot of things to stop me. They were chipping, double teaming me. We also wanted to contain those (mobile quarterbacks).
“Just the scheme on both sides of the ball,” he said. “Offensive coordinators obviously don’t want their quarterbacks to be hit, so they’ll chip. With fast defensive ends, they’ll slot the line, they’ll three-step drop. Quarterbacks have been doing that for a long time.
“Also, on our side of the ball, we played mobile quarterbacks and box schemes,” he said. “Our defensive coordinators didn’t want us to get up field and lose contain on those guys and let them make big runs. Those kind of box schemes, we would contain more than rush on some games.”
Mingo said he wasn’t just used as a situational pass rusher at LSU. “(Pass rushing) wasn’t just my role,” he said. “I was a run stopper and an every down player.”
Mingo said he had one of the best games of his career against eventual BCS Champion Alabama.
“Most of the coaches I visited said they enjoyed watching the game with Alabama because of the competition and the way I played.”
He deflected a pass and had a stop for loss against the Crimson Tide. He finished his career in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against in a loss to Clemson with five tackles, a sack, three stops for minus nine yards and a forced fumble.
He’s ready to get his career with the Browns started.
“I just want to get back to playing football,” he said. “It’s been a couple of months and want to get the taste of the Clemson game out of my mouth.”
The fact that Mingo has only played football for five years might make it easier for him to learn the nuances of being an outside linebacker. He didn’t play organized football until his junior year of high school—primarily for one reason.
“I didn’t let him play because I didn’t want him to get hurt,” his mother Barbara Johnson said. “They said he was good and to watch him play. When I went to the first game I didn’t watch the game. I kept my head down.”
Mingo said he was running track and helped his West Monroe (La.) High School team win a state title and two days later was being suited up to play in the spring football game.
“I told somebody I was going to try (football) out,” he said. “I wasn’t too convinced I would be good at it. But the coach told me he thought I could be a great pass rusher and it came true.
“In the spring game, I had 15 tackles,” he said. “I thought with my instincts, it came easy. I wasn’t supposed to start but the guy in front of me got hurt and the coaches were telling me what to do.”
Mingo had played basketball and run track before embarking on his football career. However, he knew quickly his future was in football.
“Early on, I was pretty good at everything I did,” he said. “After the first year and the offers I got, I knew. With the success I had late is surreal and getting drafted by the Browns was just icing on the cake.”
Early on, his mother asked him what he was doing on the field.
“I asked him why he was hitting the guys so hard,” she said. “He said, ‘Mom that’s the game. He did what he had to do.”
Barb encouraged all five of her children to play sports, as she was a high school basketball player.
“Playing sports, there is no trouble.”
In person, Mingo looks lean and lanky and he’s been told he needs to add a few pounds for the next level. He said he weighs 237 pounds and is 6-4.
“I’ve been told I need to play with 20 more pounds, but I don’t think there is that much of an adjustment,” he said. “In my talks with (the Browns) it was a concern, but it’s not really a concern. I can easily put the weight on and hold it throughout the season; it’s just the fact of doing it.”
Mingo played for Les Miles at LSU, who hails from Elyria, just to the west of Cleveland. “He actually brought it up right when I was picked that he was from Ohio.”