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And so the likes of Gil Brandt tick off Mingo's character box—no small thing in a draft crop that includes Georgia's Alec Ogletree, with his DUI, and Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, with his fake-girlfriend scandal. But what about those college stats? If teams are going to invest tens of millions of dollars, they must be sure that Mingo is, as Miles claims, "the perfect defensive end" for defending the read option. The limited reps can be accounted for by LSU's depth at end the past two years, which compelled player rotations and forced Mingo to split snaps. And, as one league G.M. points out, "The NFL is not always about sacks; it's about affecting the passers. When you watch Mingo get upfield, he's affecting passers all the time. He's always near, always touching pads. He has a presence about him." That presence accounted for 27 QB hits, four forced fumbles and three recoveries at LSU.
Moreover, Miles demanded that his ends set the edge, rather than chase sacks, to lower their risk of getting burned by broken plays. That background will appeal to NFL defensive coordinators looking for athletic and disciplined ends who can stay home and keep the likes of Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III from running wild outside.
As a demonstration, Mingo's speed and lower body strength proved an advantage against read-option-happy Oregon in the 2011 season opener, when the Tigers stymied the Ducks 40--27, with Mingo helping to contain LaMichael James, the Ducks' roadrunner of a tailback.
Critics will counter by pointing to last October's meeting with Texas A&M, when Mingo was mostly held in check by Aggies tackle Luke Joeckel, a potential No. 1 pick, who stands two inches taller and 69 pounds heavier—a closer approximation of what Mingo will face in the NFL.
Mingo's lack of heft was again an issue at his pro day, where he reported four pounds lighter than he had at the combine in February. Scouts who traveled to Baton Rouge hoping to see Mingo bench-press—a test that he had skirted in Indianapolis after tweaking his shoulder—might have gone home disappointed and frustrated if Mingo hadn't breezed through an hour of drill work, hardly breaking a sweat.
Such is scouting—it wouldn't be scouting without a layer of uncertainty. "This is humans evaluating humans," says former Redskins G.M. Charley Casserly, now an NFL Network analyst. "You're flawed on both sides of the equation."
The G.M. who stakes his draft on Mingo will have to know whether he's a better fit at defensive end or linebacker. He will want to have a sense of whether Mingo is done learning, or if he is, as Bennie Logan, another LSU defensive-line prospect, puts it, "basically just cracking the egg on the talent he has."
And that G.M. will have to make peace with the gamble: First-round edge rushers have the clearest path to earning that All-Pro nod, but somebody has to pick the washout.
For that G.M., this is the hope: In the NFL, Barkevious Mingo will mean something more than a laugh.