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 (1:00 PM)
We've got Mel!
Ryan (Medford OR)
Do you think Jake Locker made the right decision to stay in school?
Mel Kiper (1:02 PM)
Yeah, I do. I've been saying this for the last couple of months. He needs to make the Cal game a regularity. More consistent week to week. The fact that he was out all the year before, this will give him a chance to put two years back to back. Next year, he'll have a shot to go into the draft process with some momentum. He could be the No. 1 pick overall, and also be prepared for the expectations and scrutiny for the NFL.
Chad (Las Vegas)
Do the Cowboys really have any hope, besides turnovers, vs the Saints at home in that Dome on a Saturday night?
Mel Kiper (1:05 PM)
The Saints haven't exactly been playing their best football. They've been banged up. If you look at how they've played the last few weeks. The Washington game and Atlanta game. They had the big game against New England. The St. Louis game in mid-November. New Orleans is playing a spotlight game. All eyes will be on them on a Saturday night. They weren't probably highly motivated against Washington or Atlanta. This is a monster game for Dallas. They can't afford any more slipups. They have a hard schedule finishing up. But they have to improve in a lot of areas to win. But there's a ray of hope with the way New Orleans has been playing.
Mel Kiper (1:06 PM)
New Orleans should have already lost a couple of games. They know how important it is being healthy. A healthy Saints team could be going to the playoffs. A banged up team, they could lose early in the playoffs. I would say they have to concern themselves about resting their starters these last few games.
What's your take on Benn entering the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:08 PM)
He's a guy who's coming out with very little buzz. Normally juniors come out with buzz. He had a QB situation at Illinois that wasn't very good. He was banged up early in the season. They kind of limped home and finished the season 3-9. This was a team that was not what they thought he would be. Benn was up against it because he didn't have the personnel he needed as a WR. He's a hard worker. He has a little bit of Marvin Harrison in him from that stand point. He's not coming in with momentum. You have to go back and look at sophomore and freshman film and you'll like what you see. I thought coming into the year that he could be top 15, now you're looking at a second rounder.
What's your take on Big Ten expansion?
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
They want to get that championship game. It makes sense. They know that they have such a layoff between their final game and the national championship game effected Ohio State in those years. SEC teams and Big 12 games are not sitting back and watching. They're coming in having played later in the season. From a money standpoint and having that later game is something the Big 10 wants. But who is the team going to be? If you add a Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse. I don't know who you add. The key is they want a championship game. College football needs to have everyone on the same page. You have some conferences with championship games and some don't. It's like having a DH in one league and not in another.
Does a Cincy win in the Sugar Bowl help Pike's draft status?
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
His draft status has already been resolved to a certain extent. If you think he could be an effective starter you already know that. Against Florida's defense, if he can do well, yeah that would help him. But you have to know by now if he's a guy you have interest in or not. The Senior Bowl can help him. Pike's not a first round pick. But in the Florida game, he's going up against a great DL and a CD in Haden. Florida's defense should physically outman Cincinnati. Their OL should be completely outmanned by Florida's front. That's their big issue in this game.
Will Mark Ingram be a first round pick next year?
Mel Kiper (1:14 PM)
Oh yeah. He'll be a first round pick. He reminds me a lot of Emmitt Smith. Not just the No. 22, but he has good body lean, good balance through the hole. Great strength through the tackles. They said Smith didn't have that game breaking speed, but guess what? Hall of fame back. Ingram will be a first round draft pick.
Mel, who has been the biggest dissapointment so far from last year 1st rounders?
Mel Kiper (1:15 PM)
Darius Heyward-Bey from where he was picked. Even with Crabtree missing the first part of the season, he's still been more productive. Heyward-Bey is one. The first round picks were pretty good. Wells is producing. Matthews.
Where do you see Colt McCoy going in the draft? Do you think it will mostly be determined by his performance in the NCG?
Mel Kiper (1:17 PM)
I think the national championship game does have an effect on it. He's going up against a great defense. He needs to play well to solidify his status as a second round pick.
What scenario would have to take place for Suh not to be picked first?
Mel Kiper (1:19 PM)
St. Louis would have to think about QB. Do they opt for the QB over the DT? Remember Gerald McCoy is an outstanding player at Oklahoma. He was considered a top player last year. I have Suh No. 1 and McCoy No. 2 on my Big Board. The best player on the board would be the DT over the QB. Right now, Clausen's at 4 and Bradford at 5. Bradford could move ahead of Clausen after the medical comes back. The only thing that moved him down was the injury. If the shoulder checks out OK, then I think he jumps back into the early first round mix. The decision will be Bradford or Clausen, or Suh or McCoy. This is a team that hasn't exactly struck gold with the DL draft picks. Or you trade off of that first pick and you think about QB in that 4, 5, 6, 7 range.
It looks like the Falcons will draft somewhere in the middle of the 1st round. We could really use an impact defender either at DE, LB or CB. Who's likely to be there?
Mel Kiper (1:21 PM)
Getting Jerry back will help that defense. If you look at the positions they're talking about...DE Jason Pierre-Paul, Everson Griffen. LB Rolando McClain. CB Joe Haden is the top corner, but he projects in the top 10. But if he slides, he could be there in the mid first.
Who are your top 5 safeties? and how many of them do u see getting off the board in the first round in next years draft?
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
Eric Berry is No. 1. No. 2 Taylor Mays, USC. No. 3 Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech. No. 4 Chad Jones, LSU. No. 5 DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson. Of that group the only senior is Mays.
Lance (Washington, DC)
Ryan Mallett is still contemplating coming out. How would your project his draft position this year as opposed to one more year in college under Petrino?
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
He's an interesting guy. He's kind of like Locker. Great physical ability. Great arm strength. He only played one year in college. he sat out after transferring from Michigan. But he needs another year. Fortunately for him, all of his WRs will be back. Michael Smith moves on, but the rest of his backs will be there. Another year in Bobby Petrino's system and he could be battling for the No. 1 pick. If he were to come out this year, he'd go pretty high, but I don't think he's ready. He needs another year. He and Locker both need another year.
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
These guys' two head coaches are great offensive guys. Having another year under them will dramatcially improve how prepared these two are for the NFL in another season.
Mike (Madison, WI)
Looking back on it, what NFL teams do you think really drafted well last year? Now that we're 15 weeks in, would any of your initial draft grades significantly change, now that you've seen them play (or attempt to) in the NFL?
Mel Kiper (1:29 PM)
Good question. The best draft overall that I would give the highest grades to right now is Detroit. I gave them a pretty high grade. Stafford, Pettigrew, Delmas, Brown. They got a lot of contribution there. Minnesota didn't have a lot of picks, but they got Harvin, Loadholt and Sanford. They got quality over quantity. Baltimore. Buffalo. Cincinnati got a lot of nice production out of this draft. Indianapolis. With Powers in the third, Collie in the fourth. Painter a sixth round pick. They are getting productivity out of that draft. New England found a number of players with a chance to help them in the future.
Mel Kiper (1:30 PM)
Had Oakland taken Crabtree, even with Michael Mitchell, Louis Murphy was a great pick. That would have been nice for them. Philadelphia, where would they be without Maclin and McCoy and Macho Harris? There were a number of teams that did very well last year. All the teams did about as good as their grades indicated. There wasn't a team that got a bad grade that has outperformed it.
Chris (Fulleerton, CA)
Will Ryan Wolfe (UNLV) be playing on Sundays next year?
Mel Kiper (1:31 PM)
He's a sure-handed WR. Pretty good. Understands route running and all that. The big thing will be how fast he runs. Can he get open against NFL CBs?
Jared (West Virginia)
Is Noel Divine going to enter the draft? If so, what round do you see him being draft in?
Mel Kiper (1:32 PM)
He's a change of pace guy. Speed option. Great explosive ability. He's a complimentary piece. He's a guy you take in the third round. You hope maybe you find a Darren Sproles type.
Who is the most physically gifted WR in college football? Regardless of class
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
Regardless of the class, I would say it would be Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State would be right there. AJ Green at Georgia. Those two.
Do you think Brady Quinn is a legit nfl Qb? If so what direction do the Browns go in this years Draft?
Mel Kiper (1:35 PM)
I think he is a legit NFL QB. He's shown that capability in several games. He has young WRs that are improving on the job. There are things in the state of flux there. They're trying to find the right mix of players. That effects the QB. The OL is still coming together. The WRs are still learning. They're trying to factor in Cribbs. Quinn's a guy you can move forward with. The defensive side has some holes that they need to address. They have to hope that they get continued development from their young guys, especially Kaluka Maiva and Veikune.
Where is Jermaine Gresham right now compared to where he was last year prior to announcing his decision to go back to OU?
Mel Kiper (1:37 PM)
I think he's going to end up being in the late first round, at worst early second. Right now he's No. 22 on the Big Board. He has a chance to be a guy you could look at. I think he could be the top TE in the draft. But he could lose out on that spot if Aaron Hernandez comes out. In this day of the pass catching TE, he could be perfect. Hernandez is at No. 19 and Gresham at 22. Gresham would probably have gone in that same spot, late first round.
Mel - when can we expect your first mock draft?? What do you see as the biggest needs for the Steelers? I'd love to see Haden in the Black & Gold, but not sure how high they would have to trade up to get him?
Mel Kiper (1:38 PM)
No mock draft comes out until Jan. 22-23. I don't do a mock draft until the juniors declare. It makes no sense to me to put them into a mock draft if they haven't declared. It really distorts your projection because you change it and change it. So, after the juniors declare, after the combine, about a month after that and then right before the draft. It's usually 4-5 first round projections. It's about one a month.
Mel, whats the top three deepest pos. in this draft
Mel Kiper (1:39 PM)
That won't be known until the juniors. The potential exists for the TE. That could be interesting. There are a lot of guys that can catch the ball. The defensive line overall could be good.
Are NFL teams still looking for the 5' 8"-5' 11" CBs with great quickness and verticals or are they starting to favor the 6' plus CBs, considering the WRs are huge these days?
Mel Kiper (1:42 PM)
They are big, but you still need the guys who can cover. Antoine Winfield is one of the great CBs in this league and he's one of the shortest. You can't get wrapped up in physicality in this league. You have to get football players. Winfield is a football player. He's a warrior. Some of the taller corners aren't good. There are all these guys that get drafted high are good college players. A guy who lacks ideal height and ideal speed is Javier Arenas. He'll get knocked down a bit, because he doesn't have the ideal height or speed, but he's a true warrior. He's a football player, even if he might not go until the fourth round.
How do you project CJ Spiller in the NFL? Is he more Chris Johnson or Reggie Bush?
Mel Kiper (1:43 PM)
He's going to be a combination of both. Bush is an outstanding player. Johnson is an outstanding player. Bush was a great player as a rookie that helped his team to the playoffs. He'll be a major contributor to the NFL for a long time. Spiller will be a multi-purpose threat. He's a very good runner. He's talented. I don't think he runs a 4.2 40, but he should be in the 4.3s and if he is, he should go in the mid first.
How much can a player like Gerhart help himself with a good combine? Would a low 4.5 forty time get Toby solidly into the second round?
Mel Kiper (1:47 PM)
I think he's a second or third round type guy. His running style, power, determination. I've compared him all year to John Riggins. If he runs well and has a good workout, I think he could be a 2. RBs, they historically drop lower than projected. If you think a guy could be a 2, sometimes he's a 3 or 4. Very few guys in this league prioritize RB in the draft. Most teams have 2-3 solid RBs. They don't necessarily need one. Look at the RBs in the league - Hightower, Ray Rice, Michael Turner, Matt Forte, Marion Barber, Ryan Grant, Pierre Thomas, Brian Westbrook, Willie Parker, Frank Gore. That's why you project Gerhart as a 2nd round pick, but he could be a 4th rounder very easily.
Mel Kiper (1:49 PM)
Just look at last year. Beanie Wells was the next to last pick in the first round and I thought he could be a top 15 pick. LeSean McCoy was the later half of the second round. Shonne Greene was the first pick in the third. Glen Coffee, third round pick. James Davis, sixth round. Bernard Scott, last pick in the sixth round. Rashad Jennings, late in the draft and has contributed.
Is Joe Haden an elite CB or just the best of this year's class? How does he compare to Revis coming out of college?
Mel Kiper (1:51 PM)
You don't rate guys based on how he compares to the class. You rate them on them as individual players. If Joe Haden wasn't a great player, you move him down your list. There's only one CB this year that has a top grade and that's Haden. When you're evaluating players, you're evaluating individuals. You don't rate classes. He's up there because he's a good player.
Mel, who are some of the deep threats at Wide out that may be coming out in this year's draft?
Mel Kiper (1:53 PM)
Marty Gilyard at Cincinnati. Dexter McCluster at Ole Miss is a wild card. He's an explosive player, though not very big. Dez Bryant is going to have to show what kind of speed he has. For his size and athletic ability. Arrelious Benn, he will be interesting. I think he's very underrated. He's not coming out with momentum. I think he presents great value. Highly rated coming out of high school. If you can get him in the second round, you can get as good of value as anyone in the draft. Golden Tate.
Mel- Do you think Denver drafted well this last year?
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
Moreno, he's been the most productive rookie RB. Ayers. They gave up their first rounder this year for Alphonso Smith. The jury's still out there. I gave them a C. I would stand by that. Smith is a nice player, but they gave up a future first round pick for him.
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
They drafted 10 guys and for that, they didn't get tremendous productivity.
Ani (Lincoln, NE)
Is Ndamukong Suh better than the late Jerome Brown coming out of college?
Mel Kiper (1:56 PM)
It's hard to compare players like that. You expect Suh to be a great player in the NFL. He's not going to be a guy that's drafted because of potential. He's produced. He's been a great player all year. He didn't have just the one great game against Texas, he played great all year. He has a non-stop motor, which you don't say much about DTs. He's going to be expected to be a great player. You don't draft someone No. 1 in the draft and not think he's a Pro Bowler.
PLEASE ANSWER :) Mel - Can you comment on Denario Alexander's draft prospects? He seems like he got snubbed for the all-american team, and he is a true physical specimen. What's wrong with him? Compare him to Maclin maybe?
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
He had the injuries. But if he checks out medically, with the year he has, he has great height. He provides a matchup problems for CBs. When you look at that situation there with Chase Daniel moving on and dealing with a new QB, no Jeremy Maclin, no Coffman. He was the main guy and yet teams couldn't stop him. With his size and pass catching skills and proves that the medical situation is not an issue, he could be a guy who is very intriguing. Right now he is my fourth highest rated senior WR.
Mel Kiper (1:59 PM)
This is crunch time for the NFL. We have basically playoff or play "out" games here on out. And the first of many bowl games will start this weekend. We'll have the key matchups on ESPN.com to watch. We'll be on Christmas Eve Eve chat next Wednesday.