CLEVELAND—With the NFL Draft fast approaching, many draft experts think the Browns can use another pass rusher from the outside linebacker position.
And they might be right.
However, if Barkevious Mingo can rebound from his shoulder injury and become the bona fide pass rusher he was drafted sixth-overall to be in 2013, the Browns might be fine.
With the loss of Jabaal Sheard to the Patriots in free agency, the Browns are left with Paul Kruger and Mingo as the primary threats outside. Kruger is coming off a career-best 11-sack season, but Mingo is coming off a subpar season that was marred by injury.
Mingo had 39 tackles, four passes broken up, but just two sacks. He was used more as a drop back linebacker in coverage, as opposed to being a predominant pass rusher.
Mingo did play in all but one game last season, but the coaching staff said he was limited in mobility because he was playing with a shoulder harness to protect his right shoulder. Mingo admitted he had to work each week to build strength in the shoulder so he was able to play on Sunday.
Prior to the unveiling of the new uniforms as the Cleveland Convention Center on Tuesday night, Mingo said he’s ready to start with the Browns off-season program next week.
“Shoulder’s great,” Mingo said. “I’m ready to play.”
Mingo did admit he isn’t quite 100 percent.
“I’ll be pretty closet to all go,” Mingo said. “Just waiting on the final word from the trainers and going from there.”
Mingo said he didn’t have major surgery, but more of a “cleaning up” the shoulder area affected. He said although he wasn’t 100 percent last year, he wanted to be on the field.
“As a competitor you’re going to always say you feel good,” he said. “I felt like for the most part I was good enough to play. After the game it was a different story.
“But I put in the preparation during the week to get it back strong enough so I could play again. Now, I’ve got a lot of rest and got it fixed. Next year’s going to be a different story.”
Mingo started his NFL career with sacks in each of his first three games, but leveled off to finish his rookie season with five sacks, which was the third-most among all rookies in 2013.
The bigger question is did the coaches use Mingo more as a cover linebacker than a pass rusher due to his injury or due to his ineffectiveness getting to the quarterback.
Whatever the case, the Browns are counting on Mingo to put more pressure on the quarterback. He’s just hoping for more opportunities to rush the passer this season.
“Anytime I can get after the passer, that’s a good thing.”