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 (1:03 PM)
We're getting Mel!
Mel Kiper (1:05 PM)
We've had a spectacular start to the NFL season. One of the best we've had in a long time. So many down to the wire. Some good in the college season as well, but the NFL has trumped college, in terms of the competitiveness. College has had some good games, but the percentage of the NFL games, with only 16 games, has been great. In the NFL, 11 of the 16 games were tremendously competitive. You just don't see those percentages in college.
Mel Kiper (1:06 PM)
The thing about the NFL is the QB play. You're seeing a lot of teams in the NFL with really great QB play.
Joshua (Sycamore IL)
Purdue (Purdon't) looked terrible against NIU..any shot against ND?
Mel Kiper (1:08 PM)
It's a rivalry game. These teams have played a lot of games. Notre Dame understands when they go there, it's not an easy place to play. Especially knowing they were coming off of an emotional game, they can't have a let down now. Purdue is in the same place. They can't go 1-3, after going 4-8 last year. They're going to have trouble if they lose this game. Big edge at QB for ND, with Clausen, but we don't know about his health. Michael Floyd is out for the year. Sam Young needs to pick it up on the OL. Defensively, they're still a work in progress. Ken Plue is a key matchup, as a sophomore guard, and he'll be matched up against Ian Williams, the NT for ND.
kyle (san diego)
Do you think Rivers is good enough to put the Chargers on his back and win a Superbowl!
Mel Kiper (1:12 PM)
I tell you what, he did a phenomenal job against the Ravens. His throws had pinpoint accuracy. They had two offensive linemen out. Marcus McNeil played hurt that game. You're talking about a makeshift OL against the Ravens. He took some hits. He was under durress. That game turned on two things - two questionable coaching decisions, they were right inside the 10 yard line and they didn't try for the end zone. You take a shot at the end zone. They decided to take a field goal to make it 21-16. I have to take the shot at 7. There are 10 seconds left, kick the field goal on fourth down. Then at the end of the game, Nene should have gotten the first down after the catch. That was a key play in the game. Then to get to the fourth and 2, giving the ball to Sproles, who's not going to break any tackles and not put the ball in Rivers' hands, when the Ravens CBs were having all sorts of problems. You have to put the ball in Rivers hands to get the ball into the hands of those big receiving weapons. Some questionable decisions, play calling, coaching decisions.
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
This is a Chargers team right now that's just trying to win games. They really have to get to that open week no worse than 2-2. They're 1-1 now, get the job done against Miami, if you lose to Pittsburgh, so be it. The schedule gets much easier after the break. They get Denver, KC, Oakland. Three winnable games after the break.
USC's O-Line. Heard that all 5 could be drafted, but definitely 4. Any change after mediocre performances against tOSU
Mel Kiper (1:16 PM)
Remember Kristfer O'Dowd the center is coming off an injury. Charles Brown is an excellent player. He didn't play a great game on Saturday, but is a skilled LT. Those are the guys that jump out at me. Brown is my third highest rated senior OT. He could be a first rounder. Last week, they had a new QB starting. Joe McKnight battling flu-like symptoms. You're playing on the road. They had a lot to overcome and they came up short against a team that we knew they were on upset alert for. I said that on ESPN TV Thursday that they were on upset alert.
Mel Kiper (1:17 PM)
Also, at the end of the first half, they left three points on the field. They opted to run a running play with no TO's left. They were stuffed on the play and they tried to run out their kicker and he made the kick, but he was a split second too late getting out there and they didn't get the three points. The LBs for Washington, Donald Butler especially were everywhere.
jim (attleboro, mass)
are college QB'S ready to play in the nfl earlier than in the past
Mel Kiper (1:22 PM)
It's a couple of things. They're throwing the ball exclusively some of these QBs. They're in the shotgun. With that, a lot of these guys are coming from the spread offenses. How many teams are getting quality play at QB? Arizona, Kurt Warner; Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers; Baltimore; Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; San Diego; Chicago is hit or miss, but we'll put Cutler in there; Cincinnati, Palmer is working back from the injury; Minnesota; Seattle; New England; New Orleans; Dallas is hit or miss with Romo; Tennessee; Giants. Then some other guys where the jury is still out on. Jason Campbell. Detroit with Stafford and Mark Sanchez with the Jets are the rookies. The QBs in this league, we're in a pretty good state. Matt Leinart backing up in Arizona, Vince Young in Tennessee. We're waiting for JaMarcus Russell. Matt Schaub could be decent. Trent Edwards. Marc Bulger doesn't get any help. Matt Cassell is trying to get back up to 100 percent. Chad Pennington. Shaun Hill is trying to find his way. Brady Quinn as well. Kyle Orton, we'll see about him.
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
You can see in the NFL at QB, the league is rich at QB. We'll have more QBs coming in the draft. Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Jevan Snead. We'll see about Tim Tebow. Tony Pike, Jarrett Brown, Dan LeFevour. Then you have some junior QBs in Jimmy Clausen, Jake Locker. All of those guys will come into the league. We had a rich situation at QB in the league and it will get better this year and next year. They will augment the QBs that we have already. I think it's the best QB situation we've had in the league in quite some time. There are still some guys that are trying to find their way. Last week we had some real shootouts. Last week we had some games that went 31-24. 34-13. 48-22. 33-31. 27-23. We're getting some games with both teams in the 20s and both teams in the 30s. That's what the NFL wants, the scoreboards to light up. We're getting some competitive and low scoring games with defense as well.
Do you think Jacory Harris has a chance to be a NFL starting QB at some point in his career??
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
Definitely. He has a chance to be real good. The way he throws the football, you can't ever underestimate a kid that has height. He's 6-3, 6-4, outstanding arm and he's accurate. You can't teach accuracy. You can improve arm strength. We've seen that. Harris is a tough competitive kid. He's got some talent around him and he's only a sophomore. He's going to be a big time NFL prospect. He's the trigger man for that offense. We have a great game coming up in a couple of weeks. This week is at Virginia Tech with is a tough place to play. Then you have Oklahoma at Miami Oct. 3. Clemson plays at Miami the next game. We have several opportunities to get a handle on him and how good he can be.
Khoa Doan (Sacramento)
Mel, do you see Aaron Hernandez from FL is a first round talent if he comes out this year?
Mel Kiper (1:30 PM)
He's definitely a talent. Jermaine Gresham is still going to be in the first round. He might be out for the year, but he's still going to be a first round pick. Rob Gronkowski is out for the year with an injury at Arizona. We have a lot of injuries at TE. Guys on the field right now, Hernandez is in the mix. I hope he comes back next year. The kid who is the heir apparent to Tim Tebow is John Brantley, who's an excellent passer. If Hernandez goes back, he'll be one of the best TEs coming back. He is the best TE playing right now on the field.
The Terps were taken behind the woodshed by Cal, taken to OT by a 1-AA team and lost at Byrd to a Sun Belt team. Fridge has done some great things at his alma mater but I think his time is nearing its end. Thoughts?
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
I said all along, back in August, they don't have the talent to win that many games. At best, 6-6. Last year they went 8-5 after winning their bowl game. The Cal game was a revenge game, they weren't going to win that one. Da'Rell Scott put up some numbers against James Madison, but a couple of fumbles. They're just not that talented. You look at their roster and there just aren't that many NFL prospects. you win with talent and right now they don't have enough. They have to get a win this week against Rutgers. They are at home. They have to get to 2-2. This is the second straight year they lost to Middle TN State. They have to get to 2-2. After that they have some winnable games. But there are some tough ones, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech. I still say 6-6 is the best case scenario.
Stephen (Berkeley, CA)
Say Jahvid Best, keeps putting up these mine bottling numbers, and has big days against Oregon and USC, could he break into and become a top 10 draft pick?
Mel Kiper (1:36 PM)
Right now, he's No. 10 on my draft board, including juniors. There are eight of the top 12 on my Big Board are juniors. He's the highest rated RB. For Best, the one thing that's really impressive to me is the fact is here's a guy who's proven to be more of a complete back this year. He's blocking, that's impressed me. He's running hard. He's willing to give up his body. Blocking is huge in the NFL. The label of being a change of pace back or situational back is gone this year. He's shown to be a more all around back. He'll be highly coveted back on draft day with his value.
Ndamukong Suh, top 5 pick? The guy is an animal...
Mel Kiper (1:39 PM)
Yeah, he had another game where he batted down 4 passes against VT. He's a gifted DT. He gets off blocks. He stays on his feet. He's my fourth highest rated player on the Big Board. He's the highest rated senior prospect in the country. Taylor Mays is No. 2. Colt McCoy is 3. Russell Okung is 4. For Nebraska, they get a break in the schedule, then Missouri, Texas Tech, Baylor. The big game for them coming up is Nov. 7, they play Oklahoma, then Kansas on Nov. 14. When they play Baylor on Oct. 31, it will be a good matchup with Suh and Phil Taylor.
Mike (Chippewa Lake, OH)
Mel, it seemed the whole city of Cleveland wanted the Browns to take Rey Maualuga near the top of the second round. Instead, WR Brian Robiskie was taken by Mangini. It looks really bad now. Can Robiskie have a productive enough of a career to make us forget this one?
Mel Kiper (1:42 PM)
Maualuga was interesting because I had him going 16th to San Diego. They took Larry English. These things happen. Maualuga was my 17th highest rated player. Robiskie was my 39th player. It was no question. He was clearly the best player on the board with Cleveland picked. The pick just after was Alphonso Smith and then Maualuga was after that to Cincinnati. Great pick for the Bengals. All of those USC LBs have had a good start. Robiskie is a possession type receiver. Tall, good hands. Pretty good body control. He can be a solid player in the league. Maualuga can be a Pro Bowler. Explosive player. Energy.
Jeremy (Newark Ohio)
With Michigan's early success do you see a let down in the future or continued success? Where do you see them finishing?
Mel Kiper (1:44 PM)
They're young. Tate Forcier has that energy. He's a true freshman providing them that spark. When you have that wide eyed player, you have the energy. When you have to worry about the let down, is the older teams with juniors and seniors worrying about the NFL draft. I like the young teams, the bright eyed teams that don't know what they're dealing with. They have homecoming against Indiana who is undefeated, but it's a soft 3-0. But they're 3-0, so they get your attention. You should be 4-0 and then facing Michigan State and Iowa in tough games.
How bad did jarrett brown's performance hurt him in next years draft?
Mel Kiper (1:48 PM)
Remember, they had to sit around for a long wait because of the weather. The fact of the matter is that playing at Auburn is a tough place to play. They got after him. One thing I've learned with QBs is you can't overreact to a bad game against a good team. Auburn is 3-0 and will go 4-0 after playing Ball State. Auburn has a chance to be 7-0. Ben Roethlisberger was terrible against Iowa in his senior year. You wouldn't have drafted him high if you went on that game. Peyton Manning lost four straight years to Florida. You wouldn't have drafted him if you went by just those games. There are a lot of factors in QBs beside just one game. You have to look at history. I've been doing this 32 years and over 32 years, you can't overreact. Sure I'll watch Jarrett Brown and see how the rest of the season goes. He was off to a very good start to the season. He has a lot of talent and a lot of ability, but I didn't downgrade him at all based on that one game.
Chris Kaelin (Lakeland, FL)
Is the resurgence of Florida State and Miami legitimate and do they have the talent and depth to catch up to the UF?
Mel Kiper (1:51 PM)
Florida is in a league by themselves right now from that standpoint. They're both coming off of good recruiting years. Florida seems like they're coming off of good recruiting years every year. This year wasn't as good. Nick Saban had the best recruiting year in the SEC. He's a great recruiter. Alabama has a great program with a great history. In the SEC, Florida isn't going to dominate the recruiting. Les Miles is a good recruiter. Mark Richt. Bobby Petrino. Gene Chizik. People forget about South Carolina, but they got one of the best CBs in Stephon Gilmore. He's got competition for players. FSU and Miami will dominate the ACC in recruiting. UNC is going to be right there. Any time you have John Blake and Butch Davis, you'll have good recruiting.
Mel Kiper (1:53 PM)
FSU's speed was the difference in the game against BYU. BYU did not play well at all. FSU has a lot of talent. Both teams have talent. It will be fun watching these teams this year. And with Jacory Harris and Christian Ponder, you're going to be seeing these kids next year as well.
Biggest surprise from the 2009 Draft so far.
Mel Kiper (1:56 PM)
Good question...I would say from where he went, Johnny Knox from Abilene Christian in the fifth round to the Bears. In the 6th round, Al Afalava to the Bears and he's starting. Those two Bears picks late. Ryan Succop, Mr. Irrelevant, the last player picked made it as the kicker for the Chiefs.
Your take on the Crabtree ordeal?
Mel Kiper (2:01 PM)
Hopefully these two will have a meeting of the minds. I've said this that once you get to this poing, you're in no-man's land. You've both ineffectively boxed yourself into a corner. When it gets to this point, the value of having Michael Crabtree this year diminishes. If you can get him up to speed quickly, this season is still young. We have a long way to go. SF is sitting at 2-0, both division games. He won't be able to help the team even if he signs today. It's one of the elite players in the draft that you have to get into your organization. You can't let him go back into the draft. He was my second highest rated player and he was drafted 10th. If he does go back into the draft, all of those people that say that he would go in the late first round are crazy. He would go in the top 10 of the first round. People say Dez Bryant is just like Michael Crabtree, I would rather have the original. These teams that would love to have him and would trade for him in a heartbeat. He would go 10-15 at worst. I've talked to some people that I respect and they've said he'd go in the top 10-15. There will always be naysayers, but you just need one team of 32 to like him. But if he misses this whole year, it's a year of salary he can't get back. You'll never get the money back. You lose that year and you're one year closer to free agency. I think it can get done.
Mel Kiper (2:02 PM)
We covered a lot of ground. We have some great matchups in college and in the NFL. I'll give you updates on Jermaine Gresham. I think he'll be a first round pick in April. As well as how everyone fared this week.