I just read a recent article that stated the reason that Dion Jordan, Ziggy Ansah, and KeKe Mingo were all taken in the first six picks of the 2013 Draft was to counter the effects of the Read Option on NFL defenses. The writer was trying to convince the readers that the primary focus of adding long, athletic defensive ends centered on stopping the run threat of RGIII, Colin Kaepernick, or Russell Wilson. PLEASE!
Athleticism has always been coveted in a Power Forward’s body coming off the edge. Remember Jason Taylor? The six time Pro Bowler finished his career with 139.5 sacks, 8 interceptions, 77 passes defended, and 49 forced fumbles; all in a 6’6″ 255 lb frame. Taylor epitomized the hybrid DE/OLB that defensive coordinators dream about. So to some how equate the run on Jordan, Ansah, and Mingo directly to the latest offensive fad is just ludicrous. It has more to do with the flexibility and dynamic skills that these players bring to their defenses, regardless of the offensive scheme they’re up against.
Brendan Leister goes into extensive detail with how Brown’s defensive coordinator Ray Horton might very well employ Mingo in his first season in Cleveland. He likens the plan to that of the 49ers’ use of Aldon Smith (6’4″ 263 lbs), another prototypical hybrid taken in 2011 and before the Read Option rage.
How Will the Browns Maximize Barkevious Mingo’s Unique Skills?
DraftBrowns.com Editor: Brendan Leister
When the Cleveland Browns selected LSU defensive end/outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo with the sixth overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, many were surprised. With the signings of Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves in free agency and 2011 second round pick Jabaal Sheard making the transition to outside linebacker, the Browns seemed to already have plenty of talent at the position. However, as many of us know, a team can never have enough players that can put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The key is finding effective ways to maximize the talents of each individual player within the confines of a defensive scheme.
Earlier this offseason, I took an in-depth look inside Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s defense. In the piece, I discussed how Horton adjusts his defensive personnel to the opposing team’s offensive personnel in creative ways. Another thing that I looked at was how often Horton blitzed in comparison to the rest of the defensive coordinators around the NFL. It was apparent while studying Horton’s tendencies that he makes a conscious effort to put his best 11 players on the field for every separate situation. These factors lead me to believe that Horton will have no trouble with finding creative ways to maximize Barkevious Mingo’s talents without minimizing the roles of Paul Kruger and Jabaal Sheard. The question now is “How will Horton do it?”
The Aldon Smith-Type Plan
Ever since the Browns selected Barkevious Mingo, I’ve expected the Browns to put an “Aldon Smith-type plan” in place for how they use him. For those who do not know who Aldon Smith is, Smith was selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the seventh overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. During Smith’s rookie season, he never started a single game, but he was in on 616 defensive snaps (50.8% of the team’s total defensive snaps) in 18 games while splitting time with starting outside linebacker Parys Haralson (in on 577 or 47.6% of the team’s total defensive snaps). Smith made the most of his opportunities as a situational pass rusher and produced 17 sacks, 17 quarterback hits, and 43 quarterback hurries. During Smith’s second season as a pro, his role expanded in a big way. His defensive snap total jumped to 1,223 snaps (95.5% of the team’s total defensive snaps) while starting all 19 games. In his expanded role, Smith produced 20 sacks, 18 quarterback hits, and 49 quarterback hurries.