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 (1:01 PM)
We're getting Mel right now. Send in those questions!
Mel Kiper (1:03 PM)
We finally have some football. A lot of great matchups. Great prospect going up against prospect. We'll get into that a little bit too when talking about the games.
elvis (atlanta, Georgia)
Can OK. STATE actually run on UGA's Geno Atkins and Jeff Owens with Rennie curran just waiting to engulf whomever makes it past them.
Mel Kiper (1:04 PM)
I think that will be the challenge. Kendall Hunter is a heckuva back. That's a great matchup. Okung is a great player. Not having Brandon Pettigrew at TE is going to be an adjustment. But they do have Dez Bryant. The challenge for Georgia, without Asher Allen, will be covering Bryant. That's something you can exploit. Robinson to Bryant, they should be able to hookup in this game. That's the issue that Georgia will have going into this game.
Are you surprised that Zach Brown is starting over John Clay in Madison?
Mel Kiper (1:07 PM)
I wouldn't say surprised. They have a chance this year to be a different style of team. Clay averaged 5.7 a carry. But you look at the QB situation there, the OL, the running game has to be the strength. Brown has been productive when given a chance. Clay is talented. But looking at Wisconsin's offense and the QB situation, there are a couple of WR with ability, but they'll still be a power running team. Their staple has always been having a strong running game. You'll see them pounding people and trying to get back that Wisconsin game. The expectations for this team a low this year. They want to get off to a good start against Northern Illinois. Get off on the right foot and be 3-0 when they host MSU.
Greg (St Marys, GA)
With the depth at RB for Virginia Tech, is the loss of Darren Evans really a game changer, and do you think they have a chance against AL on Saturday?
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
Alabama has had some issue with sickness and injuries. The big concern for Alabama is with the restructured OL, how do you block Jason Worilds. I think he's a first round pick whenever he decides to come out. Greg McElroy is the QB at Alabama and they have no depth behind him. The Evans injury hurts, because he was a heckuva player. No one wants to go into the first game and not knowing what you have in a running game. And Alabama is going to put out one of the best defenses on the field.
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
I think Alabama wins the game by about 10-14 points.
Clay (Dallas, TX)
Simple enough question, does Jake Locker return to form circa 2007?
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
I think he could. Having an offense with Steve Sarkisian, wherever he's been, he's put up numbers. I think Locker has a chance, when healthy, to be one of the best QBs in college football. He had the thumb injury. The team had a ton of injuries last year. But they lost close to BYU early last year. The one kid that will be a big target for Locker is D'Andre Goodwin. The LSU game is a tough matchup. LSU has a lot of speed on defense. Then you have USC the third week, then Stanford and Notre Dame. Outside of Idaho Oct. 12, they play as hard a schedule as anyone. The schedule is brutal. If they can go 0-12 to 4-8, four wins considering that schedule would be an accomplishment.
What shot do you give the Terps against Cal? I think it's a bad matchup for them unless Scott can be the best RB on the field.
Mel Kiper (1:15 PM)
It's a big revenge game for Cal. They lost to Maryland at College Park. It was a noon start on the East Coast, which is 9 a.m. for their body clocks. They were down big early, but made it closer. The key will be Maryland's defense trying to contain Jahvid Best. One of the best MLBs in the game is Alex Wujciak for Maryland. He'll have to try to be a part of the defense to contain Best. Maryland needs to score some points. Not just Scott, but their QB Chris Turner being consistant. They have no Heyward-Bey. Now you take him out of the offense and that's a big loss. Maryland will be way over their heads against Cal.
Will Chip Kelley have the same success at University of Oregon as Mike Belloiti
Mel Kiper (1:17 PM)
I don't know about the same success. Rich Brooks had a lot of success at Oregon before Belloti. I would think that Chip Kelly, with his great offensive mind, they should be able to be a good team in the Pac 10. Rich Brooks did a great job at Oregon to start this ball rolling. Their QB Jeremiah Masoli is a great player. I think he's one of the best college football players in the country. Masoli is a pure collegiate QB. Tough, plays the game like a LB. The thing with him is that this OL lost a lot of talent. Max Unger is gone. Masoli, if he can continue to perform like last year, outstanding job. Ton of talent.
Lou (Rockville, MD)
Mel, does Darryl Clark project well in the NFL at all? How do you see him progressing?
Mel Kiper (1:19 PM)
I think he's going to have to adjust. This is a big year for Darryl Clark. He doesn't have the weapons he had last year. You have a whole new set of WRs. You have a OL that had to shift some people around. Stefen Wisnewski is new to center, taking over the position and he has a chance to be one of the best centers. How quickly will some of these young WRs develop will be critical. They have to replace three starters. They do have Sean Lee coming off of the injury list. Another big concern is the secondary. Who steps up at WR? And this new secondary, how do they do? Oct. 3 at Illinois, that's the game to circle. Juice Williams and those receivers against this secondary.
Rob (Columbia, SC)
What is your prediction on the NC State and South Carolina opener tomorrow night?
Mel Kiper (1:21 PM)
Good football game. NC State not have Nate Irving is a big factor that goes against NC State. They do have Russell Wilson at QB, a playmaker. Willie Young is a great pass rusher. If Irving would have been there and healthy, I would have put NC STate as a big factor in the ACC. They have a chance, because of the schedule, if they beat SC, to be 3-0 right out of the box. Then they face a big game against Pitt.
Mel Kiper (1:22 PM)
SC's issue will be if they get consistency at QB. Stephen Garcia has a chance to be a very good QB. His decision making needs to improve. There are a couple of freshmen to watch, Jarvis Giles and Stephon Gilmore, who they think could be one of the best CBs they've had. This is a program that has a recent history of producing good CBs into the draft. Norwood is a great pass rusher. I think this will be closer than many think. I think this could be a three-point game either way.
mel,can tim hiller lead wmu into ann arbor to upset michigan?
Mel Kiper (1:24 PM)
I think Michigan will win, but you can't rule out the possibility of an upset, just because you have a QB in Tim Hiller with a great future. THey have a lot of guys coming back that are veterans. I think they are a team in the MAC that you could make the argument is the second best team in the MAC, behind Central Michigan. Dan Lefevour and Tim Hiller square off in October. I wouldn't rule out an upset. I'd give them a shot to keep this one close, but I see Michigan finding a way to win.
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
I think Brandon Graham, senior DE, will give Hiller fits in this game. I think he's a huge factor. He's a first round draft choice and one of the best DEs in college football. Just because Michigan went 3-9 last year, a lot of people don't realize how dominant he really is.
Ryan (San Diego)
How will LSU's young qb handle the crowd in Washington this weekend?
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
Jordan Jefferson's got experience. He played well the last two games of last year. On the road, you need to be able to run the football. And they have some good RBs. He has big time WRs. Good OL. They have good components to help out the QB. That will help out Jefferson on the road. THe QB spot was a big problem area last year. They gave up 6 INTs for TDs last year. LSU has a very good defense coming back. I think LSU can go out to the West Coast and get the win. I think they're a far superior football team. LSU is a national championship contender and Washington went 0-12 last year.
What are your thoughts on the UNC front seven? I think they could be very good if Marvin Austin can control the line and allow the linebackers to roam free.
Mel Kiper (1:30 PM)
Marvin Austin needs to play to the level of his talent. He's shown flashes of talent, but needs to be more consistent. If he plays up to it, he'll be in the NFL draft. If not, he'll be back at UNC for his senior year. He's getting great coaching from John Blake. They have the best LB group in football in Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter. The matchup to watch is Andre Roberts, a senior WR/return man for The Citadel and potentially the best non-I-A player in football, and how do the UNC corners matchup? This is a game off the radar, but I bet there will be a lot of scouts at UNC this week to see Roberts against the UNC secondary.
What kind of impact will Barkley make as a freshman? Who does he compare to college or pros?
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
He's Carson Palmer. That's who you hope he develops into. He's got a great arm, the size. The question will be can he do the job on the road? USC aspires to win a national title every year. They have to play at Cal, at Notre Dame, at Oregon, at OSU. They have four brutal road games before you even get into November. What are the chances of a freshman QB, with one of his top WRs hurt, the loss of personnel on defense, winning all four of those road games? No. If they can go 2-2, then I think you're looking at a 10-2 team. If Barkley can do better than 2-2 in those road games, that would be a real accomplishment for that kid. Also, does Pete Carroll stick with Barkley in those rough moments? Because there will be some rough moments. Or, does he bring in Aaron Corp? If he didn't get hurt, he was probably the starting QB. That will be fun to watch. Is this a rotating thing? Will he bring in Corp if Barkley falters? I would have started Corp and let Barkley wait.
art (wichita falls)
who do you think will win the miami fsu game ?
Mel Kiper (1:35 PM)
I'm tossed on this game. It's a toss up. FSU is a favorite in this game, six points or so. But I think Miami can keep this one tight. FSU deserves to be the favorite. Miami has a lot of young talent. This is a toss up. Flip of a coin game. Miami has a brutal schedule early in the year. If they can survive it early, they could have a good season.
Mel, with college ball starting up again, who are the top underclassmen who are eligible to declare for next year's draft that we should keep an eye on this season?
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
Sam Bradford, QB, OK; Eric Berry, S, TN; Carlos Dunlap, DE, FL; Gerald McCoy, DT, OK; Jevan Snead, QB, MS; Dez Bryant, WR, OK St.; Arrelius Benn, WR, IL; Jonathan Dwyer, RB, GT; Jahvid Best, RB, Cal; Damian Williams, WR, USC; Jimmy Clausen, QB, ND; Jake Locker, QB, Washington; Evan Royster, RB, PSU; Kendall Hunter, RB, OK St.; Stanley Havili, FB, USC; Dezmon Briscoe, WR, Kansas; Rob Gronkowski, TE, AZ; Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa; Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers; Nate Solder, OT, Colorado; Jason Worilds, DE, VT; Everson Griffen, DE, USC; Greg Romeus, DE, Pitt; Brian Price, DT, UCLA; Rolando McClain, LB, AL; Navarro Bowman, LB, PSU; Joe Haden, CB, FL; Dominique Franks, CB, OK; Donovan Warren, CB, Michigan; Raf-I Dowling, CB, VA; Morgan Burnett, S, GT; Chad Jones, S, LSU; Reshad Jones, S, GA; Major Wright, S, FL.
With a new offensive line and new QB, can Alabama win the West again--and even threaten Florida?
Mel Kiper (1:42 PM)
They have the ability, but the questions need to be answered. They have a OL that needs to be up to the test early. They have to deal with Greg Hardy. With the new OL, they have to block Worilds and Hardy, deal with two great pass rushers early in the season. They don't have any depth behind McElroy and they need a WR behind Julio Jones to step up. They have the capability to win the West. I know Mississippi is getting attention, and rightfully so, but watch out for LSU. LSU gets Florida at home on Oct. 10.
Is this the year Everson Griffen has his breakout season?
Mel Kiper (1:44 PM)
They hope it is. They really think that he can be a great player. When you look at that defense, it's a revamped group. Griffen is a guy that's very athletic, very quick off the ball. He has a chance to be a great DE. Needs to be more consistent. More consistent technique. He has a chance. No question. They lost 8 starters on defense and all 8 were drafted.
Justin (Oklahoma City)
mel, what is your prediction on who will be playing for it all in the National Championship
Mel Kiper (1:46 PM)
I'm saying Oklahoma wins the national championship. It's hard to pick against Florida. I don't like to take the chalk and take the team that won last year. We have never had back-to-back BCS national champions. Even when USC did it, they were only the AP champion and LSU was the BCS champion. I'm going with Oklahoma and the reason I like them over Texas is because Texas has to play at Oklahoma State after playing the Red River Rivalry. Who plays them? Obviously, you have to respect Florida. But Penn State could be right there. PSU gets Ohio State at home on Nov. 7. If they can beat Illinois, I would think PSU would be right there in the mix. I don't see anybody in the Pac 10. I think LSU is a sleeper team. I think Notre Dame could be 10-2, but not 11-1 or 12-0. They could be a big factor throughout the year, but I'm not going there to say they play for the national champinoship.
Mel Kiper (1:47 PM)
For the NFL, I'm going with the Giants and Chicago playing the NFC championship game. In the AFC I'm going with the Chargers.
thomas ((los angeles))
mel, draft-wise, who is the best usc running back?
Mel Kiper (1:48 PM)
Joe McKnight is going to get the start. I'm waiting for him to have that full great year. Stay at full strength and have that great year. Coming out of high school, he was supposed to be the next Reggie Bush. After McKnight, Stafon Johnson would be another one.
Mel Kiper (1:49 PM)
You're also going to see a lot of CJ Gable. They have three very good RBs. Stanley Havili the FB is going to be a big part of this offense. They're going to use him in the passing game. Excellent blocker. He'll have a nice role in trying to help out the freshman QB in Barkley. I think he's the best FB in college footblal.
Chargers = playing in the easiest confernce in the NFL. Does this mean they will be healthy come playoff time or untested?
Mel Kiper (1:53 PM)
In terms of their schedule, they have some challenging games. They play Baltimore in Week 2, Pittsburgh in Week 4, at Giants in Week 9, Philly in Week 10, Dallas week 14. The Giants game could be a preview of the Super Bowl. They should win the division going away. You have three teams in that division that will be battling for the first pick. And Denver's first pick goes to Seattle. They're going to have the easiest road to the playoffs. It's not going to be like last year, needing games at the end to make the playoffs. They roll to a 12-4 record and have a good a chance as anybody.
Richard (Greensboro, NC)
No one seems to believe reports of Tyrod Taylor's improved passing ability. Is this one of those I'll believe it when I see it type things, or are the improvements believable but not enough to give faith in the passing game?
Mel Kiper (1:55 PM)
Taylor gives you a different look than what people are seeing. If he gives the run/pass option, he can be an effective player. He gives the defensive coordinator nightmares. The big thing will be the running game. How do they adjust to not having Evans? The Alabama game, Nebraska, Miami, those are interesting games. Georgia Tech, East Carolina, UNC. I think you're still looking at an 8-9 win team. If they beat Nebraska and Miami at home, I'd say 9-3. But now all of a sudden Taylor has to be the guy with Evans injury.
Mel Kiper (1:57 PM)
Taylor has to be more accurate throwing the football. Stay away from the costly interceptions. The passing skills at times last year left a lot to be desired. With Evans' injury, Taylor's performance will dictate if you're a 7-8 win team or an 9-10 win team.
Mel Kiper (1:57 PM)
We tee it up this weekend. Next week, we'll be previewing the NFL season. Enjoy the first week. I'm going to be talking about matchups on ESPN.com. The games to watch and the key matchups to watch out for in the NFL draft. That will be every Friday.