Though the Browns and Steelers picked their respective first-rounders more than 10 spots apart, Barkevious Mingo and Jarvis Jones will be joined at the hip, at least for the early stages of their careers.
Jones recently said he thought the Browns would take him with the sixth overall pick. Undoubtedly, Browns fans will be keeping an eye on whether Jones outperforms Mingo, the man the Browns selected instead.
But Mingo could still be the far better player, based on the input of a couple of his former teammates at LSU.
“He’s a freak, man,” former LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, now with the Cardinals, tells Jeff Schudel of the Morning Journal. “I’ve never played with anybody as freakish as him. He’s all natural. He’s not the biggest guy. He’s not the strongest guy, but he’s the most athletic out of the bunch. He’s definitely going to make some great plays in a Browns uniform. Hopefully I get the chance to play with him or against him. . . .
“At practice I’ve seen him shake a double-team off the line of scrimmage and get to the quarterback,” Mathieu said. “We can’t touch the quarterback in practice but he jumped so high in the air he tips the ball and catches it himself. That was one of those moments — I was on the sideline just watching — that’s a Hall of Famer-type of person.
Former LSU safety Eric Reid, a first-round pick of the 49ers, agrees.
“If they asked him to play safety and they gave him time to learn, I think he could do it,” Reid said. “He’s just blessed. God gave him a gift. I’m glad he was on my team. He set the tone for our defense along with the other guys on the line. Y’all are blessed to have a player like Mingo.”
Browns fans are used to the team being something other than blessed. And so they’ll likely take a wait-and-see approach on the question of whether Mingo will be a great player, and perhaps more importantly whether he’ll be better than Jarvis Jones.