Chat with Mel Kiper
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. will be by to discuss the college football and NFL seasons.
Kiper has served as expert analyst for ESPN's annual NFL Draft coverage since 1984. His pre-draft predictions are frequently the most accurate. Kiper is also analyst for College GameDay on ESPN Radio. He also contributes to SportsCenter and ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join Kiper Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (12:39 PM)
Mel will be here at the top of the hour to take your questions!
Buzzmaster (1:01 PM)
We've got Mel!
Who do you like better AJ Green or Julio Jones?
Mel Kiper (1:03 PM)
Wow...that's the million dollar question about those two receivers. Julio Jones, they want to move around a lot. They have to find somebody opposite him of top quality. You have a new QB taking over and there's very little depth. In terms of AJ Green, no Matthew Stafford, but you have Joe Cox, a veteran QB taking over. You talk about explosiveness, Green is a tremendously explosive football player. He's long, angular. Green averaged over 17 yards per catch. If everything's equal, I give the slightest edge to Green. But both are great great players.
Mike hbg pa [via mobile]
Besides snead, tebow, mccoy, and bradford, what other qb prospects do u like?
Mel Kiper (1:05 PM)
Well of the senior class, the one that's rated ahead of Tebow right now is Dan Lefevour. I also like Tim Hiller out of W. Michigan. Out of the junior class, Jimmy Clausen and Jake Locher. Nevada has an interesting QB in Colin Kaepernick. You'll see two of the best junior QBs on the field when Notre Dame and Nevada play this year.
Mel, is Randy Shannon out at Miami if he goes 6-6 or worse this season?
Mel Kiper (1:07 PM)
I hope not. He's been recruiting very well. I think his recruiting efforts have been very solid. He's brought top level talent into Miami. They're strong at the skill positions. Very young, very talented. Defensively, the secondary is the big question this year. The secondary would be the question mark going into the year. I would say the schedule is very difficult. Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma. After that, the schedule gets easier. If they could somehow go 2-2 out of those four, they have a shot to be 8-4 on the year. An 8-4 season, going to a nice bowl, dealing with the schedule the way it is, would bode well.
Do you think the spread offense is ruining QB prospect and how scouts evaluate them? For example, Alex Smith is now QB2 in San Fran and he came out of Urban Meyer's spread system.
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
It's making it very difficult. The fact that they're not under center. The fact that they're playing pitch and catch. It's not that way in the NFL. You have to be under center, make reads, make 3, 5, 7 step drops. Hair trigger decisions. You don't have all day to throw. First of all, it's being in the shotgun, some are in a deep shotgun. They have multiple receivers running wide open. Everything different from the NFL. You're not having guys running all over the field. Your accuracy has to be precise. Instead of a huge window for the college QBs to throw through, it's a very small window in the NFL. Until they get looking down at gun barells, looking to pass with all of the different defensive packages they'll see, that's why with Mark Sanchez it will be interesting to see how he goes. Even with the pro system that USC runs, it will be hard. It's very difficult to evaluate these QBs. To spend all the money you have to spend on an unknown quantity is very risky.
Mel Kiper (1:11 PM)
Teams don't pass on QBs that have that kind of skill. Teams will pick them, and there will probably be a 50-50 success rate.
Mel, I believe that the BIG 10 over the years has been going through a football cultural change, more spread offense, excellent new coaches who start up with the trenches, (Mark Dantonio, Pat Fitzgerald), etc... do you think we'll see a turnaround in the BIG 10 conference performances this season?
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
I think the Big Ten was fine last year. People talk about how they weren't good in the bowl games, but you have to see how the games went. OSU lost by 3 to Texas. Iowa dominated South Carolina. MSU held in against Georgia. Northwestern as a 2 TD underdog took Missouri to OT. Yeah, Wisconsin had a terrible second half and were dominated. Kansas beat Minnesota handidly. But overall, I thought they held their own. That 1-5 record had three games that were very tight.
Mel Kiper (1:14 PM)
This year, I think you'll see a host of teams going to bowls and a possible national championship team in Penn State. The big question is the WR position and the secondary. If the receivers come through on offense and secondary on defense, PSU has a chance to run the table. The dangerous game for PSU is at Illinois. Illinois will be a very much improved football team.
Trey (St. Louis)
Keeping with my Illini, does Juice Williams have a future in the NFL at the QB position? Great arm strength and physical skills but his accuracy always seems to be an issue to me.
Mel Kiper (1:17 PM)
That's what we'll see this year. Critical year with some great weapons. Benn is as good as any WR out there when you talk about what he does with the ball in his hand. Here's a kid that can really put up some impressive numbers at WR. They have great depth at WR and TE. They are a talented football team on offense. They will score a lot of points. They have a tough stretch at OSU, PSU and MSU. Those are three games that will determine how they go. The finish of the schedule is not that difficult. You could be looking at a year like 2007. As far as Juice Williams, I want to see him against PSU. He'll be going up against a revamped secondary. That PSU game is a chance for Williams to shine against that secondary and with his weapons.
Cam (Seneca, Pa)
How do you think Mark Sanchez is going to do this season?
Mel Kiper (1:19 PM)
I think it will be hit and miss. I'm not big on rookies starting in the NFL. I understand what Ryan is doing. He had Flacco and saw what he did. Sanchez comes from a pro offense at USC. At Houston the first week, New England, Tennessee, New Orleans, Miami, they have a tough schedule right out of the block. To start this season, this gauntlet will be dangerous. It gets easier after that. We'll see what he can do.
Mel Kiper (1:20 PM)
I think what really effected this decision was Rex Ryan being around Joe Flacco. Watching him as a rookie, he saw Mark Sanchez coming from USC. I think this decision was made on draft day.
ben (los angeles)
Barkely or Corp as QB of the Trojans?
Mel Kiper (1:22 PM)
Well, Corp's coming back now. THe scrimmage this weekend will tell a lot for Pete Carroll. By Monday we might know who the QB will be. This weekend is when that decision will be made. I think they wanted Corp to start, because they have to play at Columbus. I don't think they wanted to take a freshman QB there. But with the injury to Corp, it looked like it would be Barkley. But with Corp coming back quicker than they thought, they might try to get him in there. To start the season with Barkley, you have to live with him. He's the future. If you start the season with Corp, you don't have to finish the season with Corp.
Derrick (Logan, Utah)
Mel, does this upcoming QB draft remind you about of 1983, or is that just me? And if it is 1983 all over again, who are the Elway's and Marino's of this class, and who is the Todd Blackledge of this draft?
Mel Kiper (1:26 PM)
I think it's more like a few years ago when we had Eli, Ben and Rivers. The three guys you have at the top are in line to be top 10 picks - Bradford, Snead and McCoy. Snead comes out of Ole Miss, but he's more mobile than Manning and has a stronger arm. I think he could be in the mix to be the No. 1 pick in the draft. They lost Oher on the OL. Bradford would have been the No. 1 pick if he came out this past spring. Then you have McCoy. People make the mistake of labeling him as an excellent college QB and not a good NFL QB. He's going to be an excellent NFL QB. I would be very happy to get McCoy between the 8-12 pick. The other QBs that could be in the first round are Lefevour and Clausen. So you could get 5 QBs in the first round and it's possible Tim Tebow could sneak in as the 6th.
Mel Kiper (1:27 PM)
People ask me how you can have Snead ahead of McCoy if Snead left Texas? Matt Cassell didn't play with Matt Leinart ahead of him at USC. Snead can throw on the run. He's mobile. He has a strong arm. He was outstanding down the stretch for Ole Miss last year. He has a chance to have a big year.
Mitch Mustain (USC)
Wasn't I the best HS player a few years ago? What happened?
Mel Kiper (1:30 PM)
It's true. When you look back in 2006, Percy Harvin was considered the best player in the recruit class, Mustain was No. 2 and Beanie Wells No. 3. Andre Smith, Taylor Mays, Tim Tebow, Gerald McCoy, Sergio Kendle, Matthew Stafford, Jevon Snead were all highly ranked in that class. For Mustain, if he had stayed at Arkansas, he would have played for Bobby Petrino last year and he would have started last year and this year. Ryan Mallett would have waited his turn. Or maybe he wouldn't have transferred because he went there to get a chance to play. Mustain goes out to USC where he's the third string QB. I didn't understand the move when he made it and I questioned it then and I question it now.
Mel Kiper (1:31 PM)
Damian Williams left Arkansas to go to USC. That did work out for him. Right now, he's my 22nd ranked player on the Big Board.
Freddy (Denver, CO)
What NFL RB does Jahvid Best best compare to? He's a first rounder in the draft, right? How high?
Mel Kiper (1:32 PM)
He's like a Brian Westbrook, Darren Sproles. He's going to have that kind of role. Will he be a full time starter? He'll be a situational role player who can help out in a lot of ways. His size is the issue coming in. He's going to be a whale of a player. He could get some Heisman recognition. They play USC at Cal early on. That's a huge game for Cal and Best.
Mel, who are your picks to be awarded Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in this year's NFL season?
Mel Kiper (1:34 PM)
I've thought about that. When you look at guys early on that have a shot at it - Mark Sanchez, starting for the Jets. He'll have a chance. Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB has a chance to be off the charts great. He has shown flashes of greatness. And Percy Harvin, if he stays healthy, he can have that Reggie Bush type impact and be a great player.
Mel -- your man-crush (Joe Flacco) is going to take a step back this year. Just telling you ahead of time!!!
Mel Kiper (1:36 PM)
I don't know about that. I don't know about taking a step back. People forget that he wasn't great in a lot of games. His numbers were very poor in a lot of games. He made some mistakes. At times he was very overrated. But he made good decisions. When he had to make great throws in games, he did. People act like Joe Flacco was all world, he wasn't. To say he's going to take a step back, a step back from what? What's going to hurt is the WR core. These WRs are not that good. Their WRs are suspect. Ray Rice has a chance to make a huge impact. You're dealing with one of the worst WR groups in the NFL in terms of depth.
Mel Kiper (1:36 PM)
They're one of the few teams that doesn't go 3-4 deep at WR.
Mel Kiper (1:37 PM)
It's not about Joe Flacco. He has everything it takes to be one of the top 5-7 QBs in the league. He has it all. He's smart, poised, calm, cool, collected. Incredible arm. He sees the field. He has the size. He has underrated mobility. He can scramble.
Who do you like in the Illinois vs Missouri game on opening weekend and why?
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
I like Illinois. This is their year. This series continues on, but right now, Illinois has the upperhand. They didn't the last few years because Chase Daniel was there. Juice Williams and that pass offense will be too much for Missouri. I think this is Illinois' year. I think they beat Missouri and Illinois has a very good year. The attitude is better. I think they rested on their laurels a little bit after the Rose Bowl in 2007. They fell way back last year. 5-7 for a team with that ability? I think they beat Missouri and have a good year. They could be a 10-2 team. At worst 8-4. They are one of the favorites, one of the four teams, that have a shot to win the Big Ten championship.
Does Favre really make a huge difference in Minny? I'm with Lance Briggs on this: we're glad he's there!
Mel Kiper (1:43 PM)
Yeah, I think he makes a difference, because Sage Rosenfels, unfortunately, in late minute situations for Houston made mistakes. Sage has always been a decent QB. He's been a decent QB in the NFL, but decent is not Brett Favre. Though Brett Favre is not in his prime. He's going to have some games where he makes Minnesota look like they made a great deal to get him. There will be other weeks where he looks bad. After 6-7 weeks, particularly the second half of the season, how does he look? By week 8 or 9 how is he performing? If they don't get to a Super Bowl, it's a disappointment. Sage could have gotten them into the playoffs. I say good luck to the Super Bowl. I'm very luke warm on it. I don't see it as a big positive. It will be a rollar coaster ride this year.
Which junior RB has the best chance to go early? And which one should think about another year in the NCAA
Mel Kiper (1:44 PM)
I think Jonathan Dwyer, Jahvid Best. Those are two that I think have the best chance. Dwyer at Georgia Tech just powers away for yards and get the long gainers that you didn't think he has but he does. Those are the two underclassmen that have the best chance.
Mel Kiper (1:44 PM)
Royster and Hunter are right there as well as talented junior RBs.
chris (baton rouge)
Can LSU's streak of having a 1st round pick continue this year? Can Black, LaFell and "chuck the truck" make it in the 1st round?
Mel Kiper (1:48 PM)
I think LSU is a very underrated football team this year. I think they will win a lot of games this year. They will be a major factor this year in the SEC. Jefferson just has to stay away from the big mistakes. Charles Scott is a good RB. And they have Rueben Randle and Russell Shepard, two very good freshmen, skill positions. I don't know what they're missing on offense, they have a very good offense. On defense, Alem, Woods are great. And their secondary is good. They have a new secondary, so expect a good defensive effort. Florida and Georgia are their two big games.
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
As far as first round picks this year, I would say Brandon LaFell, Sr. WR; Charles Scott I think will be a second rounder; Scott; Chad Jones, Jr. FS, if he comes out earlier, he's right there with Eric Berry. The SEC has four outstanding safeties from the junior class. Major Wright, Reshad Jones and Chad Jones, Eric Berry. They really think Chad can do well with the new defense. There are a lot of possibilities. I think it would be easy for them to get a first rounder with that group.
Which big name college football player has the most to prove before the draft next year?
Mel Kiper (1:52 PM)
I think Arthur Jones, DT at Syracuse. I have him as a possible first rounder, but he didn't play like that as times. He needs to be much more consistent. The game against Notre Dame to be more of an indicator of what we'll see this year. Terrence Cody from Alabama, if he keeps his weight under control. Patrick Robinson, CB, FSU. Erik Decker, WR, Minnesota - people will love that new stadium at Minnesota. Adam Weber and Decker could be one of the best pass-catch tandems this year. Greg Hardy, DE, Ole Miss, had some injuries last year. Brandon Lang, Troy, could be a sack artist for Troy this year. '
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
Duke has an outstanding DT, Vince Oghobaase. Sean Lee, LB, PSU. Couple of underrated guys Pat Angerer, Keeton Kristick, Justin Kohl. Kyle Wilson, Brandon Ghee, Darrell Stuckey.
Is Orakpo best suited with his hand on the ground or as a stand-up LB? How do you think the Redskins will use him?
Mel Kiper (1:56 PM)
I think he's going to be both. I think he'll play on his feet and as a DE. I think his pass rushing ability will be outstanding. I think he should have double digit sacks. That defense, on paper, is one of the top 5 in the NFL. What they need to do is score some points. Jason Campbell's performance will be based on how that OL plays, or doesn't play. Also, the kicking game. That was atrocious last year. They need a huge improvement on special teams last year.
Mel Kiper (1:57 PM)
But if that OL doesn't improve and neither does the special teams, you're looking at 7-9. But with that defense, if the offense performs, they could be as good as 10-6.
Chris (Maplewood, MN)
SEC West or Big XII South? What conference is better top to bottom and why?
Mel Kiper (1:59 PM)
I think the Big XII South. Ten of my top 25 players are from the Big XII in my first Big Board this year. Five Big XII schools represented. Texas-Oklahoma game, the winner plays for the national championship. Ok. State could be 11-1. Texas Tech could have a good year, but the schedule is tough. Baylor could surprise. They could be bowl caliber. Texas A M is improving.
Mel Kiper (2:00 PM)
As far as the SEC West, Alabama has a big question mark at OL. They open with VT. I want to see how they do blocking Jason Worilds. He's fast, super quick, strong and has a great motor. He's one of the best DEs in football. Trying to block him will be tough. Ole Miss could win 10 or 11. LSU I think wins 9. Overall, I give the Big XII the edge. But both are outstanding.
Mel Kiper (2:02 PM)
The schools that were represented in my top 25 Big Board are: Oklahoma, Nebraska, OK State, Texas and Missouri and from the SEC: Tennessee, Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama.
Mel Kiper (2:02 PM)
We had a great variety of questions. Next week, we'll be previewing the college season! Finally! We're getting games that mean something.