Even though Mingo didn't register double-digit sacks last season, he was one of college football's fiercest pass-rushers in 2011. Mingo fell short of leading his own team in sacks as Sam Montgomery barely topped him by one sack, but in many ways Mingo was the more disruptive of the two and LSU's best pass-rusher.
In 2011, as a redshirt sophomore, Mingo initiated many big plays for the Tigers' defense and more than his stats indicate. He recorded 46 tackles with 15 tackles for a loss, eight sacks and a forced fumble. Mingo put a ton of pressure on the quarterback and was a Second-Team All SEC selection. He was absolutely dominant against Auburn and played well versus Arkansas and Georgia. Mingo was held in check by offensive tackles Barrett Jones and D.J. Fluker in the two games against Alabama.
Mingo totaled 35 tackles with 5.5 tackles for a loss, six passes broken up, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles the year earlier as a backup.
2012 Season Outlook:
Mingo should be as good or even better in 2012. With a year of starting experience against elite competition, he should be able to use that knowledge to his advantage. LSU has a tremendous supporting cast on the defensive line with fellow end Montgomery and defensive tackle Bennie Logan. Mingo should see plenty of good pass-rushing opportunities. The Tigers also have a talented secondary that can force quarterbacks to hold onto the ball longer than they would like.
There is no doubt that Mingo will see a challenging schedule of offensive tackles in 2012. Alabama will provide another tough matchup, but a great test will come in the form of a new conference foe, Texas A&M. Offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews both could be future first-round picks, so that game should provide a great gauge for the offensive tackles and ends.
With superb talent around him, Mingo should have another productive season, especially if he made it a point to improve certain aspects of his game this offseason. Mingo has real upside and it wouldn't be surprising if he is one of the nation's leaders in sacks in 2012.
It is crystal clear that Mingo has elite speed and athleticism. He is a physical freak and is reminiscent of Jevon Kearse, a.k.a. the Freak. Mingo has a lightning first-step and burst off the snap. He accelerates in an instant and has fantastic closing speed. Mingo is extremely fast crashing into the pocket or running around the field. There is talk that he runs the 40-yard dash in the 4.5 range.
The Tigers move Mingo around a lot; he rushes standing up and also with his hand in the ground. Mingo moved inside to defensive tackle sometimes during 2011, but he didn't make as big of an impact compared to when he was playing on the edge.
There are a few areas that Mingo could stand to improve. Job one would be for him to add bulk and muscle. He consistently gets ridden out of plays in the run game. Mingo gets pushed off the line of scrimmage, and offensive linemen move him out of his gap when they get their hands on him.
Adding some strength would help Mingo to hold up better in run defense and make him more difficult to block as a pass-rusher. He was using speed and agility to blow by blockers last season, but when those blocker could get their hands on Mingo, he was pretty much out of the play. Adding strength would help him to hold his ground and shed blocks.
Mingo also needs to work on more pass-rushing moves since almost every rush last year was a race around the edge. Sometimes he used a spin move, and it worked pretty well for him. That could be a skill he picks up at the NFL level, and it will be necessary to consistently beat NFL offensive tackles.
Mingo had a big impact via his speed and athleticism in 2011. That will be enough for him to dominate in college. However, he needs to refine his game for the next level with more strength and pass-rushing moves.
Right now, Mingo would be best as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. That would allow him to play in space and use his athleticism to rush the passer. He would be aided by the five-technique defensive end occupying the offensive tackle as well.
If Mingo fills out his frame, he could stay in a 4-3; he needs to get into 260s to do it though. The bottom line is Mingo has phenomenal speed as an edge-rusher and he has the physical skills to be an elite pass-rusher at the next level.
2013 Draft Expectations:
Mingo looks like a first-round pick right now. If he can add weight, that will only help his stock. Mingo has a rare skill set and is a unique defender entering the next level. The junior is on track to be a high pick in 2013 or 2014.