BEREA - The sack numbers aren't that impressive and he might need to add some muscle, but Barkevious Mingo isn't concerned.
Mingo, the selection of the Browns with the sixth overall pick in the NFL draft, believes he'll develop into one of the best pass rushers in the league. He'll get his first chance to back up his claim in the season opener against the Miami Dolphins, who picked a coveted pass rusher in Dion Jordan three spots ahead of him.
"I can be as good as I want to be," said Mingo, who played three seasons at defensive end for the LSU Tigers. "I want to be great. I want to be one of those guys that get their name in Canton, Ohio and be a dominant player."
Mingo went to Baton Rouge with stardom written all over him. He was one of the elite high school prospects in the nation at West Monroe (La.) High School. After sitting out his freshman season, Mingo played in 13 games in 2010 and registered 35 tackles with 2.5 sacks.
Mingo caught the attention of the Southeastern Conference in 2011 when he totaled 46 tackles, including 15 for lost yardage and eight sacks. His numbers slipped to 38 tackles (8.5 for lost yardage and 4.5 sacks) last season.
The drop in production could have dropped Mingo out of the top 10 of the draft, but the Browns looked beyond statistics. Mingo (6-4, 241) chalks up the drop to defensive schemes that were designed to contain option quarterbacks instead of trying to sack them.
"It was scheme-wise on both sides of the ball," Mingo said. "Offensive coordinators don't want their quarterbacks to get hit, so they'll chip fast defensive linemen and quarterbacks took three-step drops. On our side of ball, some of our schemes we didn't want the quarterbacks to get up field and make big runs. We would contain more than rush in some games."
Mingo will make the switch to outside linebacker in coordinator Ray Horton's defense. When Horton was named coordinator last January, he repeated one theme "I want big guys that can run and small guys that can tackle."
Mingo fits the prototype perfectly with his 4.58 speed.
"I have what they want to get there (to the quarterback)," Mingo said. "I have energy, a quick first step and a burst to the ball. That's what they liked about me and they wanted to add me to the team."
Playing on the edge should open up more possibilities for reaching the quarterback. Offensive tackles knew where Mingo was and where he was headed when he lined up at end. On the edge at linebacker his movements won't be as obvious.
"The offensive line won't know if I'm coming or dropping (into coverage)," he said.
Mingo should become a fan favorite because of his first name. Barkevious can easily be shortened to Bark for fans in the Dawg Pound.
Mingo wasn't sure where he might end up going when the draft began. He was surprised when he got the phone call from the Browns.
"I'm very excited," he said. "I wanted to be a National Football League player. It's a lifelong dream. I get to play in a city where they love football. I know how much the fans love their team, and I'm excited about playing there."
The fans will share that excitement if Mingo can deliver at least 10 sacks per season.