On Thursday the Patriots traded a 2017 fifth round pick to the Cleveland Browns for LB/DE Barkevious Mingo. Mingo was the 6th overall pick in the 2013 draft, but has only recorded seven sacks in his three NFL seasons. At first glance Mingo should be labeled as a massive bust, but the thing to remember is that he was drafted and “developed” by the Browns. Cleveland doesn’t exactly have a great track record with developing their young talent. The Patriots, however, have a solid track record in taking talented players who under achieved with the Browns and turning them into NFL stars, see Jabaal Sheard and Dion Lewis.
With Jabaal Sheard and Rob Ninkovich injured the Patriots are obviously a little thin on the edge, so bringing in some help makes sense. Don’t let the trade scare you in regards to the health of those two players though. Prior to the 2013 draft Mingo visited the Patriots and the team has had talks about acquiring him in the past so this isn’t a result of those injuries. He’s also not just a stop gap until they are back. The fact that they traded a fifth round pick and not a late round pick conditional on him making the roster shows that Mingo is making this team and they expect him to contribute.
The first thought with any player that didn’t meet expectations in Cleveland is that they weren’t used properly, which was the case with Sheard before finding a role here in New England. Hopefully this is the case with Mingo as well. He is 6-4 241 lbs, for comparison, Chandler Jones is 6-5 247 lbs. The knock on Mingo has been that he isn’t strong enough and can’t keep muscle on, but despite this he is still a freak athlete. What this tells me is that he should be used as a situational pass rusher rather than your traditional 4-3 defensive end who is asked to stop the run and rush the passer. Mingo is also athletic enough to drop into coverage something that guys currently on the roster like Chris Long and Trey Flowers cannot do.
The talent has always been there with Mingo, but it has never shown up on the field with any level of consistency. The Patriots have two of the best defensive minds in football on the coaching staff, and a plethora of elite, young defenders. This is the perfect place for Mingo to try to resurrect his career, and whatever the Patriots are able to get out of him will be a bonus.