Mingo should focus on sacks, not starts

Cleveland Browns outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo was running with the second-team defense at last week's mandatory minicamp. Mingo, the No. 6 overall pick, has his sights on starting the regular-season opener against the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 8.

“I’m very determined," Mingo told The Plain Dealer. “That’s the goal. That should be everybody’s goal. You want to play, you want to help the team win, but you’ve got to put in the work.”

For Mingo's rookie season, the more important number is sacks and not starts. Terrell Suggs and Aldon Smith were both situational pass-rushers as rookies and both made major impacts. Suggs was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2003 after recording 12 sacks, and Smith fell a half a sack shy of tying the all-time rookie sack record with 14. They combined for one start in their first seasons in the NFL.

One of the blog's loyal readers, Kovacs from Dallas, wrote that he hoped the Browns would follow the Smith model. He envisions Mingo "as an explosive, well-rested player in fourth quarters to blow by offensive linemen worn out from playing the entire game."

What's the likelihood of Mingo matching the productivity of Suggs and Smith? According to Pro Football Reference, 31 rookies have managed double-digit sack seasons in the 31 years since they became an official statistic. Reaching 10 sacks is an impressive feat for a rookie. But, based on history, it's not an impossible one.