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've got Mel!
Harry (Toms River, NJ)
How productive do you think Matthews will be in San Diego this year? and who do you think will be the most productive offensive rookie this year in the NFL?
Mel Kiper (1:03 PM)
Based on what we saw last week, if he can stay healthy, he is going to have a very good year. With LT moving on and Sproles being your receiver/return man. Sproles only averaged 3.7 yards per carry last year. Mathews is a heckuva blocker. Good blitz pickup. Can catch the ball adequately. He has a burst. If he stays healthy, he can be one of the most impactful rookies this year. I've always said that RB is the easiest position to transition to the NFL at.
was austin collie the steal of the draft last year
Mel Kiper (1:08 PM)
He was one of the outstanding picks. He was a great fit for their system. Jerraud Powers, Collie were both good picks for them. As far as being a steal, Shonne Greene, Mike Wallace, Louis Murphy, Collie, Johnny Knox, John Phillips.
With Lynch & Jackson out, what kind of impact do you think CJ Spiller can make on the Bills offense?
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
Spiller will have an impact whether they're healthy or not. He'll have to take on a lead role. His size was the issue. But now, with the injuries, Spiller can't be a 20-25 carries a game type of RB. You have to keep him healthy. He is a good receiving threat out of the backfield. This is a long season. You have to worry about him wearing down. They can't afford injuries. It will be an interesting watch to see how Chan Gailey handles this.
Nathan (Coralville, IA)
Dan LeFevour looked pretty good for the Bears the other night. I know he's just a rookie playing in the first exhibition game, but why do you think he fell to the sixth round?
Mel Kiper (1:12 PM)
QBs, if they're not considered elite, they tend to drop a little bit. He played in the MAC, but that didn't effect guys like Ben Roethlisberger and a number of others. With LeFevour, I thought he would be a third round pick. I projected him to go to Carolina. His accuracy was good. His size was excellent. A little unpolished, a little raw, even though he was a four-year starter. Developing QBs, you're going to drop. Certainly, he was a real good pick at that point.
are you getting tired of all this brett favre talk like we are
Mel Kiper (1:16 PM)
I've been tired of it. I've been tired of it for a long time now. I've always been a huge supporter of him, since his days at Southern Miss. To see him slide was a surprise. It's a shame, because you don't want anything to taint a great career. It's fine to have the seniority and say you don't want to participate in training camp. Who at 41 would want to? It's fine to say that if the ankle isn't good enough to perform, then I'll retire. When it is good enough, I will be out there. It's just too much. I understand the team in Minnesota. Tedy Bruschi made a great point the other night. When you're 41 and you come in with a bad ankle, teams are going to be coming after you and taking their shots. Just like New Orleans did to him. The other teams are going to attack, attack, hit him hard. Brett's going to have to be ready for an onslaught. That's how you get to this team.
Kevin (Warrenton, VA)
What's your take on Dexter McCluster this season?
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
He could be a real impact player, because he's so versatile. He's so quick and so instinctive. This league sets up for him right now. He can have a huge impact. He can catch the ball. You can put him at slot. He's 5-8, 170, so he doesn't have size. You have to make sure you get him in space. They can put him in the backfield some, put him in the slot, the return game. There are a lot of ways to get him the ball.
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
The one thing the Chiefs need to do is catch the football. They led the league in drops last year. McCluster can take a short pass and make it a long gain.
I love the Raider's pick in Rolando McClain, but I am starting to think that Lamaar Houston could be the best pick of their draft. What are your thoughts on both of these guys?
Mel Kiper (1:21 PM)
With Lamaar Houston on paper, he's 6-2, over 300 pounds. He ran a 4.84. Did a ton of reps. He compares well to Suh. Houston had better numbers across the board than Gerald McCoy. You can compare him to all of the DTs that have come out in recent years and he looks good. This kid was very productive. Houston is a guy that could allow the Raiders to make a significant improvement. This is a team that hopes to be 1,000% better than last year.
Tony (NYC, NY)
What's your take on the Giants pick of Pierre-Paul? Seems like he's as raw as they come.
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
He's a young football player. He didn't start many games. He was in the rotation in USF. Not a lot of experience. He's going to keep getting better and better.
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
And they have Cruz. They expected him to play well. He was turning heads in training camp before that game Monday night.
Alan (South Carolina)
Who will be a better QB at Carolina in the long run, Matt Moore or Jimmy Clausen?
Mel Kiper (1:24 PM)
I think Clausen. This is a hard one for me, because I like Matt Moore. I thought he'd be a 3-4 round pick coming out of Oregon State. But I really like Clausen. But he's not 100% yet and Matt Moore will start the season as the starting QB.
What does the Ravens Offense look like this year Mel?
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
Better. I think Gaither being out now effects the OL. Protecting Flacco is something you want to see on a consistent basis. Boldin will help the offense. You have Ray Rice and depth in the backfield. I don't have any concerns about the offense. They'll be fine there. The veteran additions at WR and the young additions at TE will help. What bothers me the most with the Ravens defense is that in a pass happy league, they have problems getting to the QB unless they blitz. Plus they have three key guys in their secondary coming off of injuries. It's hard to be a Super Bowl caliber team when you have CB and pass rush issues. If they can just tread water until they get the secondary healthy then they're on their way.
Are the Chicago Bears the team this season that could go 4-12 or 12-4?
Mel Kiper (1:30 PM)
They're an interesting team from this standpoint: Mike Martz. His offenses are always successful and he could impact Jay Cutler a lot. He has the great arm, but he had made some of the worst decisions I've ever seen from a starting QB. And he didn't learn from his mistakes in the red zone. The key for Martz will be to get through to Cutler. Right now he's a thrower, he's not a pitcher. If he becomes a pitcher this year, they can win a lot of games. Their WRs are average on paper, but Martz likes them. The key will be getting through to Cutler.
Mel Kiper (1:31 PM)
They made some nice additions on defense. If Martz can have a big impact on Cutler this year, then they have a shot to be a playoff team.
Who is the top contender in the AFC to dethrone the Colts? Patriots look disconnected, Jets (though talented on paper) have yet to prove anything.
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
Sam, I disagree with you on the Patriots. I think they look very connected. They had a productive draft. They have a new attitude. They looked disinterested in the playoffs last year, but they look totally different so far. They should have been embarrassed from how they looked last year and I think they were. I am not saying that they'll win the Super Bowl, but they're my pick to win that division. Miami will be better. The Jets will be a good team. You always have to respect the Colts. Manning is a Hall of Fame QB. Thankfully he has that one Super Bowl, because without it people would be calling him overrated.
Mel Kiper (1:34 PM)
New England and Indy would be my two favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Mel, wanted to know you thoughts on Tebow's debut and progression so far.
Mel Kiper (1:39 PM)
I've always said that if there's one player in my 32 years of evaluating players that I hoped proved me wrong, it's Tim Tebow. I hope he proves everyone wrong and shows that he can be a QB in the NFL. Who's not rooting for Tim Tebow? If you're a Chiefs, Raiders or Chargers fan, maybe. But I still have some questions. He still has a long delivery. When he was successful in that game, he was out in space, out of the pocket. When you're in a confined area in the pocket, that's where that elongated delivery becomes a problem. Being in a confined pocket, throwing into tight windows, we have yet to see that. He will backup Orton and be a work in progress. These are still preseason games. If you're Josh McDaniels, you're called "Coach" for a reason, you coach. None of these players come into the NFL as a perfect player. They need to be coached and developed.
Brodie (iowa) [via mobile]
thoughts on corey wooten and major wright? both look good..
Mel Kiper (1:41 PM)
Wooten, had it not been for his injury situation and a couple of years removed from it, should be much better this year. Had he not had that injury, he would have been a 1-2 round pick. I had him as the fifth pick in the second round. Major Wright was a third round pick too. He was very active and is a talented kid.
What are your thoughts on people saying that Dallas will be making history this year by being the first team to play the Superbowl in their home stadium?
Mel Kiper (1:42 PM)
They could. They're a very talented football team. They have a chance to be that type of team. Atlanta will be an improved football team. Green Bay, Minnesota will be in the mix of it. New Orleans, certainly. The Giants and the Eagles can make some strides. The NFC has some legit contenders there.
Mel Kiper (1:44 PM)
Dallas took some steps to get over that hump, but now they need to take a jump over it. Once your team is viewed as talented as the Cowboys are, then your QB is the difference. If you have the talent and you don't get it done, the criticism goes on the QB. It's up to Tony Romo to get this team to the Super Bowl.
Eli (Portland, OR)
Mel, which Oregon linebacker do you think has the brightest NFL future- Kenny Rowe, Casey Matthews, or Spencer Paysinger?
Mel Kiper (1:46 PM)
Rowe is going to be a 3-4 OLB. He's either a situational DE or 3-4 OLB. Paysinger is more the underrated guy. He's the guy who shows up and has the ability, but doesn't get the publicity he deserves. Matthews is a guy that just finds the football. Very smart, very good diagnostic ability. Rowe will be that combo guy, edge guy. If you have to pick one name to be drafted first, I'd have to say Rowe.
Who is the best NFL prospect of the UCLA Big 3: Moore, Ayers and Jones?
Mel Kiper (1:48 PM)
Ooooh boy. That's a good question. I would probably go with Ayers slightly, because he's a freakish athlete. He scored three TDs last year. Moore, 10 INTs last year, the most by any player in the nation since 2003. He studies the game like no other. He has a great passion for studying film. He's the last guy off their practice field every day. I will go Ayers slightly over Moore. They have a junior WR in Nelson Rosario who has a chance to be one heckuva player.
Trent (Santa Clara)
What were your initial impressions of Colt McCoy on Saturday? To me, he just doesn't seem to have that NFL caliber arm. He looks like he is a ways away from sniffing the field in Cleveland.
Mel Kiper (1:51 PM)
You can't see that in the first game. He has a good arm. He doesn't have a Howitzer for an arm, but neither does a lot of other successful QBs in this league. It was his first game and he'll get better. Don't judge any of these rookie QBs in their first start. I'm not going to go overboard on Clausen because he played well. I'm not going to bash Bradford because he struggled behind an awful OL. Don't make the mistake of being too high on a guy or too low on a guy because of some preseason games in the NFL. Troy Aikman heard that all through his first training camp. It was all about Steve Walsh being a better QB. I can give you a list of guys who are preseason phenoms who never materialized when the bell rang. Some times you get bad reads on players in the preseason.
Luke ( (Madison, WI))
Is the Packers defense good enough to win a Super Bowl?
Mel Kiper (1:52 PM)
I think the Packers defense is good enough. There were games last year like the Arizona game. They have to play better in situations like that. Clay Matthews is a budding star and they added a few more players who will help them. The Packers have a good enough defense. Their offense could be outstanding. Finley is a developing star at TE. They are one of the teams that you have to say is a legit Super Bowl contender.
How do you see the Lions two first round picks playing this year? Could Detroit have the offensive and defensive rookies of the year on their team if both stay healthy?
Mel Kiper (1:55 PM)
That's asking a lot. For a DT, you're asking a lot. The pass rushers are usually the ones that get the quick development in the NFL and become stars immediately. Best has to show that he can stay healthy. Matthew Stafford throwing the football is the best I've seen since Elway. He gets it. He's learning to take some off to make it easier for his receivers. They added some pieces around him. Let's give him a chance. I don't think there will be people taking shots at him like before the drafted. There were people who were taking shots at him before the draft. He was by no means close to being the consensus No. 1 pick. The problem with the Lions is the schedule. There are no more than about three games where you can say they're not the underdog.
Mel Kiper (1:56 PM)
This is the year that they make strides, even if the record doesn't reflect it. Watch out for them in 2011, especially if they have another productive draft.
Nathan (Coralville, IA)
What team do you feel is the most improved from last season?
Mel Kiper (1:57 PM)
Atlanta; Chicago could be, depending on Cutler; Detroit will be talent wise; Houston; Kansas City; Miami; Giants; Oakland; Washington.
Mark (New Hampshire )
Mel as i watched the PATS preseason game the other night i saw Brandon Spikes all over the field, and i know he was scrutinized about his speed. But he seems to have the instincts to make up for it. That being said what stock do you put in 40 yard dashes, or are you more of the eye ball test of a "football Player."
Mel Kiper (2:01 PM)
I thought he did a good job. He had 8 tackles, but I think only 3 solos. He's an inside guy. With Mayo, they have a chance to have a formidable defense. One thing about Spikes is that there was never any doubt about his talent. He was considered the best ILB out there until the 40 time. The question will be the 5.0 40 time. There wre LBs that had a 35-39 inch vertical. His vertical jump was 29 inches. There were LBs that had 40 times in the 4.55 range. He ran a 4.95. Will he be close to making tackles but not get there? He has shown well. He was an interesting test case in the draft for a great, great college player with all of the intangibles that you could want and the only reason that he wasn't a top 10 pick was his speed.
Mel Kiper (2:01 PM)
This is the Patriots taking a player who is a football player. Workout wise, disappointing, but as a football player, he was outstanding.
dana (wilkes-barre, pa)
Mel, Do you think that Javier Arenas can be one of the best kick returners in the NFL this year?
Mel Kiper (2:02 PM)
Arenas is a good CB. His return skills were excellent.
Mel Kiper (2:03 PM)
Like Brandon Spikes in that he was a great football player at Alabama, but he's only 5-8, 197 and he only ran a 4.6 at the combine. He's another guy that played like a first rounder and ended up going in the second round, 50th pick overall.
Mel, is Tomlin being too rigid naming Leftwich The Steelers starter for 4 games? With their O-Line pass protection, doesn't Dixon give them a better chance than concrete shoes, long release Leftwich?
Mel Kiper (2:05 PM)
Byron is the guy that you want to give a chance to to see what he can do. Dennis can escape. Do some things with his legs. But I think this will be a fluid situation. Byron has to play well to get the job done. This will be ongoing to see how it goes. You still have to perform even if you've been named the guy.
Why is everyone so high on Jason Campbell and the Raiders?
Mel Kiper (2:06 PM)
Because of their talent. And Campbell did have some success with the Redskins. But he went through so many systems and offenses, he took some lumps. Heyward-Bey has to prove he can catch the football. There were some games last year were he had some drops. He has to step it up. They have some ability.
Who will have the best season of the top 5 picks?
Mel Kiper (2:07 PM)
You eliminate the QB, because he's coming off an injury and has a bad team. I like Suh and McCoy. I like what I saw of Okung. I would pick Suh, because he was my No. 1 player, but Berry is a playmaker. If you're starting as a rookie as a LT, then you have to be in that mix as well.
Buzzmaster (2:08 PM)
Thanks for chatting Mel!