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)
Mel is here!
Mel, what will it take to fix the browns?
Mel Kiper (1:06 PM)
Oh boy, that's a great question. I think they have some major issues. I think this: the big mistake was completely changing the organization. Phil Savage is a great friend of mine and is one of the best evaluators in the NFL. He's done a great job. They were well on their way. Last year, they had a ton of problems. Phil inherited Kellen Winslow. They had a ton of injuries last year. To pull the plug on the organization that was just putting his imprints on this team. To cut the cord on Phil Savage was mind boggling to me. Obviously, with Romeo Crennell, there were some questions if he was the right man for the job. All of that and the shift away from the Phil Savage regime is what you have now. Phil drafted Brady Quinn. I've said before that if the coach and GM are no longer there that drafted you, you're all by yourself. That's dangerous for the QB. You didn't draft him, you don't have confidence that he's the right man for the job. When you pull the plug on Phil Savage, you pull the plug on Brady Quinn. Now Derek Anderson is the QB. He's a guy that Savage had in Baltimore. Then on Sunday, Quinn was 6-10 and throws a pick and he gets pulled. This Browns team is not the Arizona Cardinals. They're not going anywhere in the division. Why make a decision like this on Quinn when he needs to show you what he can do?
Mel Kiper (1:06 PM)
This organization has a way of pulling the plug on things far too early. They have some issues in terms of the mindset of the team, the lack of chemistry. This is a team that's one of the worst in the NFL.
Mel, Who is the best Freshmen in all of college football
Mel Kiper (1:09 PM)
Hmmm, let's go to my freshman list. I would say Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama; Manti Teo; Matt Barkley, QB, USC; Tate Forcier, QB, Michigan, but he's not going to be a big time NFL prospect, just a great college player; Vontaze Burfic; Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina; Bryce Brown, RB, Tennessee.
Nick (Athens, Ga)
Do you think Rennie Curran will get overlooked due to his size when his draft time comes around?
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
I don't think he'll get overlooked, he's way too productive. You look at how he plays the game, he plays smart football. His size will be something you look at. He's my second highest rated OLB from the junior class. He has a very high grade. The size is something you have to put aside and the way he plays, he's a lot bigger than he is.
Henne, Thigpen, or White for the dolphins?
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
Chad Henne is the guy. We said back in August, we said that they're going to have to turn the page, it's just too bad the way it has to happen. I thought this year, regardless of any injury that at some point you had to turn to the Chad Henne era. Remember, they passed on Matt Ryan. What Chad Henne has to do, very quickly, is adjust to the speed of the game. He looked better on the one drive. He has the size, the big arm. Accuracy and consistency has been the problem for Chad Henne, even since his Michigan days. But you'll see the Wildcat with Pat White and Ronnie Brown. Miami is a team that you expected to have some trouble, because of the close games last year. The schedule was very tough out of the box. Now they need to look to go 2-3 before the bye week. The good thing about this, the silver lining, is that Chad Henne can hopefully seize control and give them some quality starts. This is the time you start the Chad Henne era.
Mel Kiper (1:14 PM)
When they passed on Matt Ryan, they were very high on this kid. Bill Parcells wanted Chad Henne and Jake Long and got them both in the same draft. The two Michigan players.
Gordon (Greeley, CO)
Mel, LSU's offense will dominate this weekend between the hedges at Georgia. Am I delusional? Thanks.
Mel Kiper (1:16 PM)
No, I think Georgia's defense, everybody looks at it and says there's an issue there because of what Arkansas and South Carolina did. Arizona State's offense had a good second half. The issue there is they're pretty strong at the DT position. They have 4-5 guys that are excellent, they just don't have enough. LSU has to find a way to run the football. You have the young QB who is developing. The running game needs to get going for LSU. That's going to be front and center. This game is between the hedges at Athens.
Craig (West Bend, Wisconsin)
Has the growth of the college spread offense hampered the development of NFL offensive lineman? I read that only 8 pro bowl OL have been produced in the last 5 years.
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
Other than in pass protection. You see them in pass protection all the time. In terms of the run game, they're a little passive at times. But if you look at the top kids this year, Okung is at the top. He's clearly the best LT in football. The spread, the mindset, creates a little passiveness. But you still have to protect and have great feet. All of these spreads are different. They all have tweaks and nuances to make them different. To lump them all together, that's not the case. You evaluate individuals.
What's your take on Pryor? Do you think he made a good decision going to OSU? It clearly appears he is struggling a bit.
Mel Kiper (1:20 PM)
Pryor made a decision. Everyone seems to think the Michigan situation would have been a good fit. But he's going to have an opportunity at OSU to develop some players. They have a rebuilt offense. This QB has to adapt to new players around him this year and to a restructured offense. The kid is only a sophomore. He's not going into the NFL. He won't be eligible until next year and at that time he'll have players around him for another year. No Beanie Wells to lean on. All of that are factors.
Daniel B. (Toronto, ON)
As a die hard Rams fan, I believe there is no way to go in the 2010 draft besides QB. Assuming Bradford's injured shoulder is fully healed, if you had your choice for the Rams would it be Bradford, Clausen, or Locker? I would choose Bradford because we employ a WCO and I believe the offense would definitely work towards Bradfords strengths, but I keep hearing about how Clausen and Locker are shooting up boards. Are they close to passing him as well?
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
I think Bradford. You would like to see him come back from the injury and play this year to show what he can do. Clausen is battling a toe injury. I would still keep Bradford at the top spot, Clausen at 2 and Locker and Snead battling for the third spot. We'll see Locker and Clausen on the same field this weekend. A nice opportunity. 3:30 kickoff. This game will go a long way for me to determine if Clausen is the second highest rated junior QB or Locker. Keep in mind that McCoy is in there too. He's going to be a top 10-15 pick in the first round. I've always loved Colt McCoy. You see a little Drew Brees in Colt McCoy.
Mel, UConn's Lindsey Witten is 2nd in the nation with 7 sacks on the season - do you see him getting picked on the first day come the NFL Draft?
Mel Kiper (1:24 PM)
He's a guy who I know Randy Edsall has had high hopes for. He's got the height, 6-5, 250. Real good closing speed. You're waiting for him to have the year he's capable of. Last year he had 5 sacks and has 10.5 for his career coming into the year. We had the UConn kids go early last year.
What do you make of this bi-polar FSU squad?
Mel Kiper (1:29 PM)
I don't know what to make of them. They are the most difficult team to get a handle on. You just can't figure out. When you write them off, they rise up. When you're high on them, they break your heart. If you're a fan, they break your heart, miss your expectations. To go to the Miami game, they were one play away from winning that game. They barely beat Jacksonville St. They kill BYU in Provo and then they come home against South Florida, they looked lethargic, lackluster in front of the home crowd. FSU got beat up in the trenches in that game. People forget how well coached USF is with Jim Leavitt. It's a fearless group. They had been 3-0 coming into the game, with three cupcake wins, so maybe FSU slept on them a little bit. Jason Pierre-Paul, jr. DE, was spectacular; George Selvie; Marshall; Jerome Murphy. You have 4-5 draftable players on the defense. Matt Groethe is out for the year. I don't know if FSU took them for granted or whatever. Great matchup this week with Murphy against Mike Williams for Syracuse. FSU still has a lot of football. They play BC this week, who despite their issues is 3-1. FSU should win the game by 2 TDs, but FSU is the most unpredictable team in college football. They're only a 4.5 point favorite, but should win by more than 2 TDs.
How far can this Iowa team go?
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
That's a tremendously well coached football team. That staff gets more out of less than any other team. I'm not ragging on their personnel, but they don't get the blue chip stars coming out of high school, like Michigan and OSU. They coach kids up. They get Bryan Bulaga back on the OL. They found a way to win in Happy Valley. This week, they get a home game against Arkansas State. They should be able to handle them easily, which is good because there will be a natural let down. So they go 5-0 and then the game of the year with homecoming against Michigan the week after. You're probably looking at a team that goes 10-2, 9-3 team.
steve (mt. pleasant)
How far can case keenum go in the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:36 PM)
He's only a junior. He's an underclassman. He has real good leadership qualities. He's my fifth highest junior QB. This is a guy that doesn't have a Howitzer for an arm. But he evades in the pocket very effectively. There will be someone in that offense breaking open if you can evade in the pocket. They're a team that gets a little bit of a break as well. They play UTEP this week. Next week, at Mississippi State, tricky game. They play at Tulsa. They have everything to be 12-0, probably 11-1 at worst. They survived their two toughest games on their schedule in Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.
Mel Kiper (1:36 PM)
I don't think he has the arm strength and physical prowess to come out early.
Mista Lee (Norman)
What do u think the draft status of Bradford and Gresham are? Any chance either stays another year to prove themselves?
Mel Kiper (1:39 PM)
Gresham will go into the draft. He'll be the highest rated TE. He's the 17th player on the Big Board. I've talked to some NFL people and they have a very high grade on him. Last year I had Brandon Pettigrew rated as the 7th best player int he draft and he fell to the Lions at 20. He was one of the major bargains in the draft. TEs drop a little bit. If Gresham drops, it will be not later than the first round. Bradford, I still think he comes out. If he's back against Baylor on Oct. 10 and then the big game against Texas. He could have come out last year and be the No. 1 pick. Now he's going to go back for another year? He could, but I think he comes out. Not having Gresham hurts. And they're not going to put up the big offensive numbers like last year, they lost too much.
Ben (Lincoln, NE)
Isn't it fun to watch Ndamukong Suh play DT?
Mel Kiper (1:41 PM)
From an evaluation standpoint, it's entertaining, satisfying. It's great to see a kid with great skills using them to the fullest every week. This kid never quits on a play. He has great instincts for the game. I have him No. 3 on the board and could easily be 1 or 2. He's easily the best senior in the draft. Colt McCoy is the only one that has a chance to catch him as the best senior.
Two questions Mel. First, does the poor play of the Illini and lack of statistics have any impact on Benn leaving for the NFL after this season? Second, is Zook just a horrible strategist and even worse teacher or is there something I'm missing when I watch this team.
Mel Kiper (1:45 PM)
Benn has to get back to where he needs to be physically. I took him off the Big Board this week. My attitude with juniors is if you're not in the top 15, you're not going to be in there because I'm not going to deprive a senior of being in the top group. If you would have been 16-25 on the Board, you're not going to be on the Board. No. 1, you don't know if they're coming out and No. 2 if there's a senior with the same grade, they're going on the board. That's why Snead and Benn were taking off. Last week against OSU, he had 4 catches for 33 yards. Juice Williams was very ineffective throwing the ball and only averaged 3.1 yards per pass. They need the old Benn back, who caught 67 passes for over 1,000 yards. Last year he was great after the catch. If they're going to start scoring points, he needs to be a factor. The schedule isn't going to be any easier this week. They're going to play Penn State at home. Illinois is 1-2 after losing to OSU. They need to shock the college football world and beat PSU.
IF Central Michigan goes 11-1, wins the MAC, wins a bowl game will they be ranked and will this move Dan Lefevour higher then the 2nd round?
Mel Kiper (1:47 PM)
He's been OK this year. He's had some pretty good numbers. I'm not as high on him as I thought he would be. He has a chance to be an NFL QB, but he hasn't wowed me over. The big win over Michigan State propelled them to 3-1. He does have some good receivers to throw to. They're at Buffalo this week, another winnable game. The interesting game would be Western Michigan, BC. They could have a lot of wins and LeFevour is a heckuva college QB. I thought I would have him in the first round, but I don't. But it's still early and I'm still evaluating.
Mel, as a Raider fan it seems to get uglier each week and there doesn't seem to be any end in sight. What will it take to make this team a winner? Or, should I just jump off the bay bridge?
Mel Kiper (1:51 PM)
You have to get Russell up to speed. He does not look like the answer at QB. He just makes some horrible throw. As a rookie QB, you can say OK. But not for a guy who's been in the league for a few years. What's hurting him is they're putting two rookie WRs on the field. Heyward-Bey has struggled. He kind of looks like a deer in headlights. He's learning on the job. Oakland took Louis Murphy with the 124th pick overall and is playing better than the 7th overall pick. I had Murphy as the 76th best player. I had Heyward-Bey at 30. The only thing that hurt Murphy is that the Florida WRs historically struggle in the NFL. Russell has to be more precise. McFadden, sometimes the holes aren't there. He fumbled a couple of times. The OL is not where it has to be. The defense, for the most part, when you have an offense that can't move the ball, it puts more pressure on the defense. Michael Mitchell made some plays on Sunday. He was their surprise second round pick out of Ohio.
Mel Kiper (1:53 PM)
They're sitting at a 1-2 record and have Houston, Giants, Philly, Jets, San Diego. They could be 1-7 going into the open week. Tough stretch. Then later, Dallas, on Thanksgiving Day. And then Pittsburgh and finish up with Baltimore. It's not going to be an easy road.
Matt (Ann Arbor)
Could Rich win the Big Ten this year?
Mel Kiper (1:55 PM)
They have as good a shot as anybody. Forcier has had some struggles at various parts of the game, but has been at his best late in the game, when the outcome was still to be determined. Defensively, they've got some improvement to do. This is a rivalry game at East Lansing. This is a tough game. MSU is playing for their lives in this game. They're 1-3 and can't go 1-4. After this, they have some winnable games. This is a season saving game for MSU. You're going into a bee's nest here.
Mel Kiper (1:57 PM)
Michigan coming off of a thrilling homecoming win. Next week, they have to play Iowa. Michigan State is going to bring their A game, so Michigan better match them. I'd be very impressed if Rich Rodriguez and Michigan can win this game. This would be a very impressive win.
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
MSU is a 2.5 favorite. They're a slight favorite in this game, which may surprise a lot of people. you have a 4-0 team playing a 1-3 team and the 1-3 team is a slight favorite. Last time I checked Las Vegas doesn't give out free lunches.
Mel Kiper (1:59 PM)
We have had an incredible start to the college and NFL seasons. The weekend's have been phenomenal. Hoepfully we can get some of the injured players back. We'll do it againnext Wednesday.