2021 NFL Draft Profile: Andre Mintze
Vanderbilt defensive end Andre Mintze is looking to prove the doubters wrong again and hopefully hear his name called this weekend.
April 28, 2021
Swimming upstream has never been a problem for Vanderbilt defensive end Andre Mintze. In high school, Mintze, a Philadelphia native, committed to Vanderbilt over Division-III Villanova and was rated as just a two-star recruit, though he did have another power 5 offer from Boston College. Per 247Sports, he was the lowest-rated recruit in the 2016 recruiting class that included future NFL players like Joejuan Williams and Kalija Lipscomb.
He arrived on West End in the summer of 2016, but redshirted in his first season under former head coach Derek Mason’s tutelage. He saw action as a sophomore but mostly as a reserve.
By his sophomore season, Coach Mason had recruited another defensive lineman who would garner the lion’s share of attention from both scouts and opposing offenses: Dayo Odeyingbo.
But Mintze was not to be left behind. He turned in a productive redshirt sophomore season, earning his first-career start (vs. Tennessee State) and sack (vs. Baylor in the Texas Bowl), then took another step as a redshirt junior in 2019. As a junior, Mintze accumulated a team-high 4.5 sacks, along with 39 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss.
Then, over the course of what became a tumultuous 2020 Vanderbilt football campaign, Mintze proved to be one of the lone, constant bright spots. In nine games, the senior had 5.5 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, and led the team in forced fumbles with two. He started all but one game and had 7 tackles, a sack, and 1.5 tackles for loss in a career performance against Florida.
Mintze’s overachieving play in 2020 elevated him into NFL Draft conversation and he figures to be of interest to teams as an undrafted free agent, if not in the later rounds of this weekend’s draft.
Numbers and Measurements
Weight: 253 lbs.
40-yard dash: 4.56 seconds
Bench Press: 18 reps
Broad Jump: 9’ 11”
Mintze checks in at 6’3, 253 pounds, which puts him on the smaller side in terms of NFL defensive ends. For comparison, Michigan edge rusher and projected first round pick Kwity Paye is 6’4, 277 lbs. Mintze, though, utilizes his tough and aggressive attitude more so than an imposing frame; however, he will need to continue adding strength to ensure he makes an impact on an NFL roster.
Over four years on West End, Mintze accumulated 75 total tackles, including 17.0 tackles for loss. His 5.5 TFL as a senior ranked second on the team behind Dayo Odeyingbo. He also ranked first on the squad with two forced fumbles in 2020.
In terms of strengths, Mintze utilizes his tenacious attitude to cause ruckus on opponent backfields. One of his top attributes is his high motor and constant effort that allows him to keep in pursuit and finish plays. His history as an overachiever and hard-nosed worker should carry over well to the NFL.
On the field, Mintze’s most effective trait is probably his ability to hold the edge on run plays. As a senior, Mintze mostly used a strong stiff arm to keep offensive linemen upright and break down outside run plays frequently. This allowed Mintze to blow up runs in the backfield and funnel opposing offenses to the middle of the field.
Overall, Mintze is a willing disruptor in the run game. He can line up outside to hold the edge or inside to create penetration, and he did both in 2020. Perhaps the best indicator of his constant effort is his ability to ruin screen passes by chasing down running backs from behind. Mintze excels at recognizing these plays early on and giving full effort to make the tackle.
While he doesn’t have the most explosive first step as a pass rusher, Mintze has a repertoire of moves he can use to be effective. He uses a nice jab step and rip through on twists to create inside pressure on opposing quarterbacks, sometimes poking the ball free from behind quarterbacks to create forced fumbles.
He also possesses the ability to duck under offensive tackles and rush quarterbacks from the edges. When that doesn’t work, Mintze can resort to an effective stiffarm push of a linemen into a quarterback for sacks and hurries.
Lastly, Mintze is known as a fantastic teammate and high character person. He was a two-time nominee for the Wuerffel Trophy (awarded annually to the college football player who best exemplifies community service and academic achievement) and Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award. He also started Dancing ‘Dores, Vanderbilt athletics’ partnership with the university’s Dance Marathon fundraiser. Mintze was named a two-time captain under Derek Mason as a junior and senior.
Areas for Improvement
In examining Mintze’s ability to play at the next level, the biggest holdup is his size. Evidently, it didn’t hold him back in college, but the NFL is a different beast: the average defensive end in the league in 2013 was 6’4, 283 lbs, and that was eight years ago. Mintze also doesn’t possess elite twitcheness to make up for that frame, like, say, projected first-round edge rusher Azeez Ojulari from Georgia, who is 6’3, 240 lbs.
Further, Mintze was rarely the center of attention for opposing offensive lines, with Dayo Odeyingbo usually facing double teams. This benefitted Mintze who needs more experience to prove to NFL scouts that he can go toe to toe with top of the line talent.
Lastly, given Mintze’s undersized frame and strength as a contributor in the run game, some teams will surely want him to play a more hybrid outside linebacker role in the league. This potential position change will be an area of adjustment for Mintze to continue to hone in on his developing skills in pass coverage and run help, as he never played outside linebacker during his time on West End.
Yannick Ngakoue, Baltimore Ravens
How’s this for a comp? Coming out of Maryland, Yannick Ngakoue checked in at 6’2, 252 lbs and was labeled as a late-round flier because of his light frame. Like Vanderbilt, Maryland is a less prominent football school that has produced some good pros , so Ngakoue had Power 5 experience, but at a school nowhere close to blue blood.
Coming out of college, scouts said Ngakoue was skilled at setting the edge, played with high effort, and had an advanced array of rush moves, but needed to add size and strength to stick in the NFL, all of which mirrors Mintze. Five seasons and one Pro Bowl later, Ngakoue has been the road map for a player like Mintze, who is skilled but undersized and comes into the process as a bit of an unknown: if the strength and technique come along and the effort translates to the NFL, teams could find themselves a diamond in the rough.
The Jets are in need of defensive lineman, so why not stockpile at the end of the draft by taking a chance on Mintze. At the very least, the Vanderbilt alum will help create the hard-nosed, defensive minded culture Robert Saleh is trying to establish in his first year in New York. Plus, if Saleh can work his developmental magic like he did with so many prospects for the San Francisco 49ers, the Jets could stumble upon a late- round gem.