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!
Mel Kiper (1:03 PM)
I hope everyone had a safe holiday season. We can wrap up the bowl games and put a ribbon on that and talk about the guys who helped and hurt their stock.
Mel - love your work. It wouldn't be a true Mel Kiper chat w/o a Tim Tebow question. What is the word on him after the Sugar Bowl? QB? HB? TE? Who do you see taking a serious look at him in the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:07 PM)
He's going to be a QB. This is how I always have to phrase it - I think he has a chance to be a very successful H-Back. But someone is going to draft him as a QB. You just need one team to feel that he'll be a good QB. You don't need all the teams to think that way. I understand about the wildcat and all that, but you don't draft Tim Tebow in the second round be a wildcat QB. I think the Pat White pick was a wasted pick, if he wasn't being converted into a WR. If you were drafting him in the second round, you were picking him to be a WR. It's completely different with Tim Tebow. If you're drafting him in the 2-3 round, then it's as a QB. I think Tebow is going to have a team or two out there that feels like he could be a QB. We'll see. Despite his performance against a bad Cincinnati defense. Don't think that he proved anything in that game. Any QB that has any ability would light Cincinnati up. If you liked him going into the Cincinnati game, you like him now.
Andrew (Cincy, OH)
Mel, how does this years class of Buckeyes fair in the upcoming draft?
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
Gibson decided to come out. He's a very good combo DE/OLB. He's shown that he can get after the QB. Their TE is a late round guy. Cordle could be a middle round guy. Doug Worthington, tall, rangy DT could be a rotation guy. Spitler, MLB, has a chance to be a draftable guy. Secondary wise, the guy to watch out for is Kurt Coleman. Anderson Russell is a draftable guy. Their kicker Aaron Pettrey has a chance to come to camp as a kicker.
Jon (Grand Rapids, MI)
As it is right now, would Stafford be the #1 QB in this class (if he didn't enter last year's draft)?
Mel Kiper (1:12 PM)
By far. That's assuming that Georgia has a good year. You could feel comfortable that with his talent level, without Moreno, barring an injury, that he would have been head and shoulders ahead of everyone. St. Louis would have to take Stafford over Suh in this draft. Instead of being a Lion and the one year of earning power, he would have been the first pick to the Rams.
Bill (St. Paul)
Mel, how far will this injury drop Clauson, you had him (at one point) as your #1 QB but Mort said today he might be a 2nd round guy with the injury, what are you projecting, as of today?
Mel Kiper (1:15 PM)
No impact whatsoever. The thing with him is, he really, if you looked back on it, showed toughness. He could have had this surgery back in September. Had he had that surgery in September, he would have to go back to Notre Dame. This is the year that made him a first round QB. By playing through the injury and not having the surgery and gutting it out, he showed incredible toughness. That's his plant foot. Not having Floyd for certain games. Not having Rudoplh for certain games. The defense couldn't stop anybody. He had a remarkable season. He was voted team captain before the season. I talked to a couple of defensive players about Jimmy, to Golden Tate after the season and they raved about Clausen as a leader, a warrior, great QB. Tate said he doesn't remember having to adjust to any balls thrown to him. The defensive players had tremendous respect for him. Everyone I talked to was honest.
Mel, with the teams not in the playoffs, do they get head start on preparing for the draft now?
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
No, all of the teams are preparing for the draft now. The only difference now is that the head coaches that aren't in the playoffs can get into the draft process more. For instance, the Bengals assistant coaches get involved in the draft process and scouting. At the Senior Bowl, that's where all of the coaches go, but it's late this year and the only teams that will be effected are the two teams that are in the Super Bowl.
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
At the end of the day, they'll catch up anyway. They get the tape of the game, so they'll see it. It won't impact their draft. They'll just have to work harder and catch up in February and March.
steve (north carolina)
where do you see C.J. Spiller getting drafted?
Mel Kiper (1:20 PM)
CJ will probably go somewhere from 10-15. He'll benefit from Chris Johnson, because everyone is comparing them. What he has to do is run in the 4.3 range at the combine. Chris Johnson went 24. Felix Jones, I think, went 22. Mendenhall, I think, 23. So, I think Spiller goes a little higher.
Ed (San Diego)
Who do you like tomorrow? Im thinkin Bama 24-10
Mel Kiper (1:22 PM)
I like Alabama. I thought all year that they were a team that had a chance, provided the OL and McElroy did their jobs. At the beginning of the year, it was all Jones in the passing game. Now they have others contributing. You look at the job that McElroy has done, Ingram and the two other backs, including Upchurch, who will play in the NFL. McClain is their best defensive player at LB, so you hope he's 100% for the game. The big key for the game is Texas' OL. They need to play 1,000 percent better. Secondly, the return game is going to be critical for both teams. Jordan Shipley and Arenas. Those two guys have a chance to really effect field position.
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
And certainly, this is a huge game for Colt McCoy. This is the biggest game for any of the top picks in the draft. He's playing his third top rated defense and didn't play well against the other two. He can't look like a fish out of water. He can't look like a guy that doesn't have what it takes to play in the NFL. If he plays well, he's a late first, second rounder, if he doesn't, then he's a 3-4 rounder.
Hey Mel,who does Shanny take with the 4th pick in the draft, QB or OL? Thanks.
Mel Kiper (1:27 PM)
He's going to have to look at a QB. His deal is QB's. Bradford or Clausen. Even Colt McCoy resembles Jake Plummer. We'll have to see. Who does Shannahan view as his guy? Bradford? Clausen? Wait and take McCoy? And he'll have to assess Campbell and see if he wants to proceed with him. He made Brian Griese look like an outstanding QB in Denver. QB's are Shannahan's deal. He's a brilliant offensive mind. The key for him will be how good of a personnel evaluator will he be. We'll have to see who they keep in the front office. Shannahan's ability to evaluate players in the draft will be key in Washington. From what I understand, he's always prided himself in being a good personnel evaluator. This will be his baby. He's the boss. This is a brutal division. You can be a good team and finish in the cellar. Fourth place in that division could potentially be a good team. The Eagles aren't going anywhere. The Cowboys are always in the thick of it. And the Giants have been good.
What players, draft eligible or not, really impressed you in the bowl games?
Mel Kiper (1:30 PM)
Robert Johnson, RS, Utah. Former JUCO all-American. Very good athlete. 13 career INTs, 6 this season, one against Cal. Broke up passes in that game. Made some big hits. I thought he had a nice two seasons there. Did a good job coming over form the JUCO ranks. O'Brien Schofield, DE/OLB, Wisconsin. Very motivated, firey player. Forced a fumble and had two sacks against Miami. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida. Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee. Very active in their game against VT. Nine tackles and a sack.
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
David Reid, WR, Utah. Unheralded player. Real good year for the Utes. Spunky kid. Good hands. Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho. Strong, tough, showed a mean streak. Sustained his blocks. Really keyed that Idaho win over Bowling Green. Long arms, excellent feet. He could be in that second round mix. Dexter McCluster, RB, Ole Miss. Scored a couple of TDs. He could be a slot receiver, a Darren Sproles type RB, help in the return game. He'll be a utility player in the NFL. He's not real big, but he could be a change of pace type player. Taylor Price, WR, Ohio. Made some nice catches on inside slants.
Mel Kiper (1:34 PM)
Last night, Adrian Clayburn, DE, Iowa, was outstanding. Double digit tackles, couple of sacks. He made a statement that he's going back to Iowa, but he'll be one heckuva player when his career is over. Also, AJ Eddes played well.
Fitzgerald (Washington, DC)
If the Redskins select a quarterback with the 4th pick, you would still have to address the O-line concerns. Plus you would have to wait for the QB to develop. Why not select a game breaking running back?
Mel Kiper (1:35 PM)
You look at other guys for the OL. Trent Williams. Chris Scott. Kyle Calloway. Tony Washington. They guy they could take there, if they don't want the QB, could be Russell Okung.
Assuming Suh goes 1, who does Detroit take?
Mel Kiper (1:37 PM)
Gerald McCoy, the DT from Oklahoma. The third pick for Tampa would be Eric Berry. Then the fourth pick would be Washington and that's where you think about the QB.
With Stephen Paia returning to Oregon State, what does their draft class look like this year?
Mel Kiper (1:38 PM)
Keaton Kristick, OLB, could be in the 4th round range. Sean Canfield, QB, could be in that 5-7 round area.
Mel, Do you think Jerry Hughes' stock will have dropped slightly after TCU's last performance?
Mel Kiper (1:39 PM)
He didn't have a sack. He got around the edge a few times. But you're looking at a guy as a 3-4 OLB. You would have liked to have seen him get a sack or two. He'll be a second round pick and be ideal as an OLB.
Joe (Ellicott City)
Joe Haden and Aaron Hernandez recently declared. Which other Gators will join them?
Mel Kiper (1:41 PM)
Their draft class is going to be outstanding. The three guys you were waiting on were Haden, Hernandez and we're still waiting for Dunlap, who has a mid-first round grade. There are three elite juniors right there. Brandon Spikes, in the game against Cincinnati, showed to me that maybe the speed questions were valid. I thought he could have closed on Pike a little quicker on that one play, but he's at worse a 4th round pick. Cunningham could be in the 2-3 round mix. Major Wright, we'll have to wait on him. He'll be an NFL player. He was one of the top players in the country coming out of high school.
Mel Kiper (1:42 PM)
Tebow, obviously. Cooper, the senior WR, has size, decent speed and he could be a 4-5 round guy.
Roger B. (Arlington, TX)
Any love for Jordan Shipley? He's going to be the next Wes Welker ...
Mel Kiper (1:44 PM)
He's going to be asked to be that type of player. He has the return ability. He's a slot guy. Remember, no one liked Welker coming out. He was undrafted. Julian Edelman is going to have to fill in for Welker in the playoffs if the Patriots move on. I don't like to get into the comparisons, because Welker turned out to be a special player. He moves the chains. He has the explosiveness and he's tough. It's a shame he had that injury. If you want a guy to compare him to, sure.
Mel, Any chance Okung makes it to 9 for Buffalo or should we be looking at Anthony Davis?
Mel Kiper (1:45 PM)
Okung is rated No. 6 on the Big Board. It's a possibility. Davis is the 15th highest. That's a little early for Davis. Buffalo has reached in the past, so we'll see. Okung will probably be gone and that's a little early for Davis.
Who are some of the RBs to watch for that get drafted after the 2nd round?
Mel Kiper (1:49 PM)
Good question. James Starks, Buffalo. Missed the entire year because of shoulder surgery back in August. But going into this season, he was viewed as a 2-3 round pick. In 2008, he rushed for over 1,300 yards. Medically, if he's fine and is ready to go, he's an interesting kid. Toby Gerheart, Stanford. Anthony Dixon, Miss. St. Charles Scott, LSU. If you want a little guy, Michael Smith, Arkansas. LeGarrette Blount, Oregon. He had a couple of nice runs against OSU, but then had the crucial fumble. Montario Hardesty. Roy Upchurch. If you want some small college guys: Joique Bell, Wayne State; James Mallory, Central Connecticut State; LaRon Council; Trevyn Smith, Weber State.
Can Ryan Perrilloux be a late steal?
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
I don't think a steal, but he'll draw some later round consideration. He's 6-2, 230. He has the arm. It would have been nice to see him finish his career at LSU. He'll be in the late round mix.
Chad (Las Vegas)
Who has hurt their draft position with their bowl preformance?
Mel Kiper (1:51 PM)
Good one. Devin Ross, sr. CB. He led Arizona in tackles this year. Spunky corner. Very productive game against Nebraska, but when you look at the coverage skills, he got beat in coverage in that game. He allowed the TD in the third quarter.
Mel Kiper (1:52 PM)
Corey Wootton, Northwestern. He had that knee injury in their bowl game last year, but he didn't have the impact this year. It usually takes a couple of years to come back from that knee injury. He didn't have an impact at all in that game.
Mel Kiper (1:53 PM)
Zac Robinson, QB, Oklahoma State. He was in the late round mix, but did not play well. Kam Chancellor, sr. S, VT. He had four tackles, but he looked questionable in coverage. Brandon Spikes. It wasn't that he didn't have a decent game, but you look at Spikes and speed is the question. He didn't close and get that sack on Pike when it looked like he could get a beat on him. That showed, to me, that maybe speed is an issue with Spikes. Some NFL people I spoke to this year said that speed could be an issue.
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
Of all the 40 times that players run, that of Spikes will determine where he goes. If he doesn't run well, he'll be in that fourth round area.
Mel you appear to be right on when you graded GB's draft last year. As a Packer fan im curious to where you rate Ted Thompson as a drafting GM.
Mel Kiper (1:56 PM)
I think he's always done a great job. And John Dorsey has done a great job in Green Bay. I've always regarded as one of the top personnel people in the NFL. He does a great job. He always finds those diamonds in the rough. He finds the guys in the late rounds that maybe other teams aren't high on. Those two together have done a nice job.
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
Look at Jeremichael Finley. Greg Jennings. James Jones. Traded for Ryan Grant. Aaron Rodgers, everyone passed on him when he was a potential No. 1 pick. Nick Barnett. They've done a solid job overall.
What topic/player do you expect to be the most hotly contested/debated in this year's draft?
Mel Kiper (2:03 PM)
The big debates are going to be with Todd McShay and I. The big debate so far has been Jimmy Clausen. I have him as my No. 1 QB, Todd's not as high on him. Other debates are with Sam Bradford. He has the shoulder injury. He wasn't harrassed in the pocket as he will be in the NFL. Dez Bryant hasn't played in a while. The 40 time will be key. Taylor Mays. Freakish physical skills, but didn't produce as much this year. It will be interesting on Carlos Dunlap. He was suspended for the off the field issue before the SEC championship. He has top 5 skills on the field. Jermaine Gresham, out for the year with the injury. You have to evaluate him. Tim Tebow. Colt McCoy. Toby Gerheart. James Starks. Greg Hardy. Terrence Cody. Sean Lee. Javier Arenas. Harry Coleman. Arrelious Benn. He was bothered by an ankle injury. Didn't have a QB to get him the ball. But he's talented. Golden Tate.
Mel Kiper (2:04 PM)
We covered a lot of ground today. The final college games are tonight and tomorrow. Next week, we'll talk a lot about the needs of the teams. The juniors have to declare by next Friday. We can talk about the juniors and talk about the first first-round projection. All next week.