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Draft Darlings: Jonathan Mingo is worth the hype

Kansas City would be a great home for the big, explosive wide receiver.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Texas A&M Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret; the Kansas City Chiefs need more wide receivers. Despite the recent signing of former New York Giants wideout Richie James. the Chiefs head into the 2023 NFL Draft with a lot of uncertainty in the position group.

While the team might use its first-round pick to draft one, the board might not fall that way. If Kansas City has to wait until Day 2 to acquire a wideout, Jonathan Mingo from Ole Miss is a high-ceiling player who would be worth a bet.

Here’s what you need to know about him:


Out of high school in Brandon, Mississippi, Mingo was a four-star recruit who had offers from Mississippi, Georgia, Auburn, Notre Dame and Oregon — but ultimately decided to stay home at Ole Miss. He didn’t really break out until his senior year, in which he posted 51 catches for 861 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 16.9 yards per catch.

Against Vanderbilt, Mingo gained 247 yards. That was the most of any collegiate receiver last season — and also broke the school’s single game record. SEC coaches named him to the second squad of their all-conference team.

At the NFL Scouting Combine, Mingo checked in at 6 feet 1 3/4 and 220 pounds. There, he ran a 4.46 40-yard dash. He also turned in a 39 1/2-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-9 broad jump.

Film review

Mingo’s playing strength and size are displayed in everything he does — and immediately jumps out on film.

The Landsharks would regularly have Mingo line up as a wing — a tight end who is off the line of scrimmage. Head coach Lane Kiffin likes to run a spread-to-power running scheme, where he uses lighter personnel (and a wider formation) to generate space in the running game. Lined up as a tight end, Mingo could block defensive backs, linebackers and even some defensive ends, helping to enable Kiffin’s scheme.

Mingo’s strength also shows up as a receiver. He regularly breaks tackles. While he doesn’t flash jump-ball ability, his hands are still strong. He does sometimes have some drops because of concentration issues — but in a contested-catch situation, Mingo can catch through contact. As a well-coordinated athlete, he also has the ability to catch over-the-shoulder throws.

But Mingo isn’t all size. His vertical speed allows him to outrun most cornerbacks. He often shows this on post routes, where he outruns corners trying (and failing) at trail coverage. He possesses dynamic speed in open space. On any play, he’s a threat to take it to the house.

Unfortunately for Mingo, Ole Miss doesn’t have a diverse passing offense. That has limited his route tree and productivity — but everything he was asked to do, he did well. When he needed to beat press, Mingo utilized his size to get quick separation. He ran vertical routes, slants and crossers well enough that he could have an immediate impact at the next level.

How he fits with the Chiefs

In Kansas City, Mingo will be a perfect X-receiver. Head coach Andy Reid loves his these kinds of wideouts to have versatility and vertical speed — and Mingo provides both. He could also easily rotate into the slot to serve as a blocker — just as former Chiefs receiver Sammy Watkins did. When he was healthy, Watkins made a living on vertical routes and intermediate routes over the middle of the field. Mingo can run those immediately.

Mingo should even be a an even better vertical receiver than Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Mingo’s route tree is already beyond what the veteran can do — so over the long term, Mingo would be an ideal replacement for him.

The bottom line

Most college offenses don’t have NFL route trees, which make college receivers hard to evaluate. Mingo is no different. Ole Miss hasn’t had the quarterback talent to run that kind of offense, which has hurt Mingo’s productivity.

Still, there are very few receivers I love more than Mingo.

In the NFL, he can be a dominant X-receiver. He has the ability to beat press and run vertical and intermediate routes. As he’s given more responsibility, he’ll be able to do way more in the NFL than he was allowed to do in college.

Even if he fails as an X-receiver, Mingo is a good blocker. He could be a de facto tight end, using his frame and physicality to add to any running game.

For the Chiefs, Mingo is the exact high-ceiling bet I’d make at wide receiver. I admit it: I’m higher on him than most others. But I feel he’s going to explode in the NFL.

Grade: Round 1

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