CULVER CITY, Calif. -- LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo didn't play a snap of football until his junior year in high school, but a late start hasn't hurt his stock ahead of this month's NFL Scouting Combine.
The biggest challenge for Mingo comes down to convincing scouts he can play his current position at the next level. A switch to outside linebacker is likely because of his long, lean frame. At 6-foot-5, Mingo looks more like a power forward than an NFL lineman, but he's already packed on 15 pounds -- now weighing closer to 245 -- since his last college start.
"(I'm) mainly focusing on getting bigger, faster and stronger down at Athletes' Performance (in Gulf Breeze, Fla.)," Mingo told Around the League on Wednesday. "(I'm) really just working on improving ... me."
If Mingo's lean frame raises concerns about his ability to operate as an every-down lineman, film study reveals a powerful first step off the snap and a willingness to battle offensive tackles one-on-one.
"If I had my choice, I'd choose defensive end, I played that through college," Mingo said. "But I don't see outside linebacker as being a challenge. It's the same position pretty much."
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NFL.com's Bucky Brooks ranks Mingo among his top five defensive ends and Daniel Jeremiah forecasts him going to the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 17 in his latest mock draft.
Onto that unorthodox first name: Mingo -- known by most as "KeKe" -- said "Barkevious" was influenced by the fact he has a brother named "Hugh" and a second sibling named "Hughtavious." His mother jumped at the chance to name Mingo something equally unusual.
"My dad's dad and my dad are both named Hugh," Mingo said. "There's Hugh III, which is my oldest brother, and (my dad) just kind of got carried away (with Hughtavious) -- but it just kind of all came from there."
Mingo acknowledged "Barkevious" was regularly butchered by substitute teachers in elementary and middle school -- but that's in the past. Now it's all about who calls his name come April.