Mingo signed with LSU in 2009 but redshirted. Mingo proved himself to be a playmaker once he did get on the field, however, posting 35 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles despite only starting one game (saw action in all 13) in 2010.
Though he'd demonstrated great speed off the edge and uncommon awareness to get those long arms into passing lanes (second on the team with six passes defensed), no one could have foreseen his breakout 2011 campaign. The LSU coaches certainly didn't. Mingo began the season behind veteran Ken Adams at left defensive end and actually only started four games last year. That didn't stop him from registering 46 tackles, including 15 tackles for loss (leading the team) and eight sacks (second on team).
Mingo possesses the frame (6-5, 240 pounds) and athleticism to warrant top 10 consideration, but at this point he remains a largely unpolished product who relies on his natural tools rather than technique to make plays.
Given Mingo's upside, it is easy to imagine him terrorizing NFL quarterbacks off the edge as a multi-dimensional defender. Considering Mingo's relatively pedestrian numbers (38 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks) this season, however, the junior might have been better served returning to Baton Rouge for his senior season.
While a bit inconsistent at the snap, when he times it right Mingo can explode off the ball past the tackle, using a good shoulder dip and surprisingly powerful hands to rip through contact and take the corner.
What is exciting about Mingo is that he's not just a physical freak but a surprisingly instinctive, technically refined football player. Mingo's use of his arms and hands belie his experience. He uses them well to keep distance between himself and the tackle and has a natural feel for pass rushing, showing good lateral agility, flexibility and creativity with his fakes to get the bigger man leaning. He has a very good spin move that he likes to use against interior offensive linemen when stunting back inside. He locates the ball quickly, shows good vision and balance to get to the action and closes with a pop.
Mingo may lack the size of a traditional 4-3 defensive end but with teams becoming increasingly interested in hybrid defenders who can play multiple roles, his weight isn't likely to be a problem. The NFL loves pass rushers and therefore they'll love Mingo. He just might be the best pass rusher in the country and checks in at No. 3 on my Big Board.
It seems like there are 4 consensus players that should be taken at #4. Still I wanted to throw out someone different. Plus I can easily envision a situation where Joeckel, Lotulelei, and Jones are gone before we pick, and no one wants to trade up. In that situation I wouldn't be opposed to the selection. More food-for-thought than a "I really hope we get him".