Chat with Mel Kiper
Send your questions now and join Mel this Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (1:01 PM)
We've got Mel!
Mel Kiper (1:02 PM)
We've got our first round projection going up on ESPN.com tomorrow. Our new top 25 Big Board going up tomorrow, which will include juniors. Big day tomorrow. And also on ESPN TV.
Rich: (Toronto, Ohio)
Hows the the quality of the O Lineman coming out this season? & What Off. lineman might the Steelers have their eyes on late in the '09 Draft? Thanks much Mel!
Mel Kiper (1:04 PM)
It's average. I don't see it being anything special. From top to bottom if you look at OTs this year, it's a very good group at the top, but there isn't a lot of depth. Andre Smith of Alabama and Jason Smith are outstanding. Eugene Monroe as well. Then Michael Oher's stock has dropped. Eben Britton is an interesting case. He's played RT and LT. His most impressive part of the game is his pass blocking. But the depth at OT is not what it was last year.
Mel- I ask this question every year. Is there a great cover corner out there who also happens to possess superior tackling skills? Thanks.
Mel Kiper (1:07 PM)
The CB position was helped by the juniors. That's because of guys like Vontae Davis, Jairus Byrd, Sean Smith, Asher Allen coming out early. Alphonso Smith is up there, but he's only about 5-9. The size factor will play against him. Jenkins is still the best CB. Overall, the CB position is not bad. It's gained a lot of depth because of the juniors. A couple of guys that are underrated: Cary Harris, Coye Frances, Sherrod Martin.
Will Brian Johnson get picked up in the later rounds or is he a free agent/practice team player?
Mel Kiper (1:08 PM)
With Brian Johnson, he was a phenomenal college QB. But he's only about 6-feet tall. The size, the system. He's going to have to battle his way on to a roster. But he was a great college QB. He'll have to try to make it as a No. 3 QB initially in the NFL.
Mel, why did so many underclassman go back to school? Safety from USC (Mays) he would have been a top 10 pick no?
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
I think several players made mistakes by going back this year. I've highlighted them. Sam Bradford. Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma. Tayler Mays. Bradford was the in the mix to be the No. 1 or No. 3 pick overall. McCoy was clearly the best DT in the draft and could have been the best DL in the draft. Mays, if he ran as well as he was expected to run, he would have been the No. 1 safety by far and would have been a top 10 pick. That left me scratching my head, why they went back to college.
Mel, great work as always. Bears pick mid-1st round...I'd like them to get Harrell or one of the top 4 WR's...which do you think would be best? I'm a big fan of Maclin and Hixon (UNC).
Mel Kiper (1:12 PM)
I would say the Bears have to look WR, OL and a young QB. But, they have to think defense as well. They did not play well this year in a lot of games. They need a DE, S, OLB. They have some areas where they need to help that defense. In the first round, they could look Tyson Jackson, DE or Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State. I don't think Percy Harvin is there, but if he is, I think the Bears have to take him.
It seems more and more inevtable that the Titans need a WR. What do you think they will do?
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
For them, in the first round, they could look WR. The one that could be there is Hakeem Nicks or Darrius Heyward-Bay. Two ACC WRs could be interesting at that point.
Is Aaron Curry worthy of the #1 overall pick?
Mel Kiper (1:14 PM)
Yes, he's worthy, but the thing you have to ask yourself about Curry is, does he have the ability to be a dominant player. He will be a very safe pick whenever he comes off the board, but I just don't know if you take him No. 1 overall. I could see him going No. 3, 5. He is still my No. 1 player on my board, after the juniors. But if you're looking at Detroit or KC, and you're looking at QB or LB, I would think you look QB. That need supercedes anything.
Who was the most NFL-ready prospect that decided to return to school?
Mel Kiper (1:17 PM)
Hmmmm, I would say CJ Spiller, RB, Clemson. Charles Scott, RB, LSU. Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma. Greg Hardy, DE, Ole Miss. Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska. Brandon Spikes, MLB, Florida. Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri. Taylor Mays, S, USC. Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma. Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma.
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
For Bradford, I don't think he was ready to start from Day 1, but he was certainly worthy of being the No. 1 or No. 2 pick.
Mel, do you see the Chargers taking a running back in the first, or will they address their defense? Thanks
Mel Kiper (1:19 PM)
I think they could take a RB. I have them taking Knowshown Moreno with their first round pick. He has a lot of versatility. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. The question for him is how fast he will be. He has to run a good 40 to be a first round pick.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
I'll take the other side here. Who are the least NFL-ready prospects that decided to come out early?
Mel Kiper (1:20 PM)
Nate Davis, QB, Ball State could have used another year. PJ Hill, RB, Wisconsin. Maurice Evans, DE, PSU. Ricky Jean-Francois, DT, LSU.
Reports out of St. Louis say that the Rams are interested in Rey Maualuga at #2. Is that too high, and if they are going the LB route would Curry be a better choice?
Mel Kiper (1:22 PM)
It's way too high for Maualuga. He's more of a mid-rounder, 15-25. When the juniors came in, he dropped down a bit. I think it makes more sense for St. Louis to look at Andre Smith or Aaron Curry. for Maualuga, the good pick would be Detroit with their second first round pick, I think around pick No. 20.
Joe (San Diego)
Is Matt Stafford a franchise QB? It seems like if he got a good QB coach, he has all the tools to be great.
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
It would be nice if we could make those kind of statements. Did anyone know that Joe Flacco would be a franchise QB? We'd like to say that coming out, but we don't know. Some people thought that Ryan Leaf was more of a franchise QB than Peyton Manning. I'll define franchise QBs once they're in the league. There's no such thing coming out in the draft, a true franchise QB. You're not defined as a franchise QB. You don't draft a QB in the first round thinking he'll be a mediocre QB, you hope that he'll be a franchise QB. It's a 50-50 shot that these guys are franchise QBs. No one knows how these QBs will work out. Joe Flacco was always the first guy into the building and last to leave. Once guys in the building, they work hard, but do they take the game home with them?
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
Right now, it seems like Sanchez and Stafford both have good work ethics.
Mel Kiper (1:27 PM)
In a nutshell, what made Joe Flacco this year is his dedication to his teammates. His big arm and diligence to learning impressed his teammates. You want your QB to be a guy that the other teammates will go through a wall for. When you see a young QB getting knocked down in the pocket and the OL don't come over to pick him up, that's a red flag.
With Rex Ryan taking the reigns, where do you see the Jets focusing their first round pick?
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
Rex is going to be a great football coach with the Jets. He's the kind of guy that players go through a wall for. Rex is going to want players...look at the Ravens players. Those are Rex's guys. From Ray Lewis to Ed Reed to Haloti Ngata, Suggs. Those are all his kinds of guys. I don't know a defensive player who wouldn't want to play in his system.
Mel Kiper (1:29 PM)
The biggest challenge for them is to get the most out of Vernon Gholston. Rex Ryan can be the difference from Gholston being a bust or a great player in the NFL.
Will Todd Boeckman be concidered by any teams in the daft?
Mel Kiper (1:31 PM)
I would say probably, he'll have to make it as a free agent. More then likely he's an undrafted free agent. He has starting experience in the Big Ten. He's 6-4. He had some success. As an undrafted free agent, you see what he has to offer.
Nick (Kalamazoo, Mi)
Mel- I've seen a lot of scouts rate Sanchez equal to or better than Stafford, would you agree with this? Should the Lions be considering Sanchez instead of Stafford at the top spot?
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
You consider everybody. You evaluate all the QBs. You evaluate Josh Freeman. If he's intriguing, you might consider him with your second first round pick. Detroit has to evaluate everybody and see what direction they want to go. I would say right now, I have Stafford slightly ahead of Sanchez. Both are deserving of being No. 1 or No. 3 overall. I don't see how you can have Stafford or Sanchez any worse than the top 5 or 7 players in the draft.
Mel Kiper (1:35 PM)
A lot of people ask is this another draft like with Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers was a steal of a pick in the 20s and he could have easily gone No. 1. Alex Smith hasn't had much success, but Rodgers is one of the best young QBs in the league. I'd rather have him then Jay Cutler. Ask the Lions or the Chiefs if they'd rather have a guy like Aaron Rodgers.
I'm hearing a lot about BJ Raji at the Senior Bowl. Is he the top rated DT right now? Where is he overall?
Mel Kiper (1:37 PM)
He's the top rated DT. He's had an excellent start to the Senior Bowl practices. He's strong, very quick. He's 6-1, 335. He's a leverage nightmare. He had some tremendous performances this year. He's worth a top 10-15 pick this year. You could see him going to Cincinnati at No. 6, Green Bay at No. 9, Denver at No. 12, Washington at No. 13 and I can't see him getting past there.
With the Packers moving to a 3-4 scheme do you see them targeting Aaron Maybin with their 1st round choice?
Mel Kiper (1:38 PM)
I think they could. They have a lot of different areas they could look at. They need DL help. They could use a TE, CB. They have several options that they could go with this pick. Malcolm Jenkins would be a very good pick for them at that point. That's who I'm projecting to the Packers.
Mel Kiper (1:39 PM)
The problem with Maybin is that he was a one-year wonder. This was his breakout year. I have him going to the 49ers with pick No. 10.
Eric (Sioux City)
Who are some small school prospects you like? What do you think of Ramses Barden?
Mel Kiper (1:42 PM)
Barden has to show he can separate. How fast is he? How quick is he? He played at a lower level of competition. He's 6-6. Can he get open? Dobson Collins from Gardner-Webb is another small school guy, who first got my attention earlier this year against Georgia Tech when he had 7 catches for 97 yards. I like Rashad Jennings from Liberty, a big RB who has just enough wiggle. Former Pitt Panther. Javarrius Williams out of Tennessee State is another RB. TE Brian Mandeville out of Northeastern. Cecil Newton, C, Tennessee State.
Shawn (Los Angeles,Ca)
Hey Mel, where do you think Oakland will go with their picks in the draft? Thanks
Mel Kiper (1:44 PM)
They have OL help. WR, LB, DL help. When you look at them, there are four guys to look at. Jason Smith, OT, Baylor; Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia; Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri; Percy Harvin, WR, Florida. Also, keep in mind I think Michael Crabtree will be gone. I think he'll go to Seattle at No. 4. But if he's there, then you take him.
Randy (St. Paul)
Hey Mel, in your opinion what is the difference between Sanchez, compared to Leinart or even John David Booty? They all looked a lot alike at USC but yet Sanchez is rated so highly, while Leinart hasn't been successful and JDB was a 5th round pick.
Mel Kiper (1:47 PM)
He doesn't have Carson Palmer's arm, but he has a stronger arm then Leinart and closer to Palmer. He has very very good mobility. More mobility then any of the recent USC QBs. This guy can throw on the run as well as any other QB. He's 6-3, 225, strong arm. He plays the game with tremendous enthusiasm. Great, great worker. Phenomenal worker. He knows the game. The only concern with him is that he has only played one year. He had a couple of starts in 2007, but then this year. He's basically a one-year starter. He has a lot of skill. A lot of intangibles, plus skill. That usually equals a very successful. If he had played all of last year and all of this year, it would be a different story.
david mccann (tucson, az)
who do you think tampa should take with their first pick.
Mel Kiper (1:48 PM)
Tampa has to look at a couple of spots. First of all, they have to decide whot heir QB is going to be. What direction they're going with. They could look at Josh Freeman. They also have to think WR. If Percy Harvin is there, he would look great in their uniform. They could look DT or RB.
Ryan (Madison, WI)
I can't think of a better college O-lineman I've seen than Andre Smith. The guy is always fifteen yards up the field on every running play and pushes pass rushers around like they're kids. Is he the best you've seen?
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
He's a great player. Is he going to be as good as some of the great players in the LT spot? In order to be a great LT, he's going to have to keep his weight at a manageable level. You're not going to be a top flight blindside LT if you have a weight issue. He's always been a dominant run blocker. He lost some weight this past offseason, which enabled him to be a better pass blocker. He has a chance. to be a perrennial pro bowl LT.
Tom (River North)
Mel, what should teams think about Harvin's injury history? He's a little guy (in terms of height), and seems to be injured all the time.
Mel Kiper (1:52 PM)
That's why he's not higher rated then he is. He would be higher if he didn't have some of those injury concerns. He's not that big. He takes a lot of hits. The best thing about him is getting him the ball in space. From a route running standpoint, he has to be better as a true route runner. He'll have to adjust to the kind of routes and sight adjustments you need at the pro level. He's a tremendously explosive player. He can change the scoreboard anytime he touches the football. You have to weigh that. He'd be a great pick for the Jets at No. 17 or with the Bears at No. 18, Tampa at No. 19.
Tell Ryan (Madison, WI) to google "Mandarich, Tony // Gallery, Robert" as a start...
Chris (Morrow, Ga)
What do you predict for the Falcons' draft and their upcoming season, Mel? Defenses now know of Matt Ryan and may be better prepared for he and Turner.
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
They're in good shape, really. You look at that team, I think they could use a combo DE/OLB. That's a big need area. John Abraham had a great year for them. Two guys that I think will be vey intriguing to them are Larry English or Clay Matthews. Another guy who's underrated is Clint Sintim out of Virginia.
Who should the Browns be looking at with the 5th pick? Thanks.
Mel Kiper (1:56 PM)
The Browns need a pass rusher. Someone to get some heat on the QB. Either from the DE or OLB position. RB, CB. I could see them taking an Aaron Curry or Aaron Maybin. I could see them looking at Malcolm Jenkins. That's a little early for a RB like Beanie Wells or Moreno. But if one of them runs great at the combine, Wells should be able to post an impressive 40. But right now, I would say defense early for Cleveland. You can always find quality RBs from the second round on.
Should the Giants take a WR or a LB at the end of the 1st round?
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
You have the whole Plaxico Burress situation. I think LB. I thought it last year and I think it this year. Laurinaitis would be a good pick. People say he's too much like Katzenmoyer or Bobby Carpenter and is a little overrated. Well, he didn't have great DT play in front of him. I think he can be a solid LB. If he had come out last year, he could have been in the top 10-15. This is an example of going back not helping.
Mel Kiper (1:59 PM)
Thanks for all the questions. Reminder, tomorrow, on ESPN.com, the first first round projection will go up. And the top 25 board will be updated with the juniors. Also on ESPN TV tomorrow, we'll be all over the airwaves with the first projection.