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!
Mel, I think we'll get a better sense of both Notre Dame and Michigan this weekend. What do you think?
Mel Kiper (1:02 PM)
I think we got an indication of both teams being very improved. Notre Dame looking spirited. Better QB play from Crist. More sound fundamentally. For Michigan, Denard is the real deal. They are banged up. I liked the way Notre Dame played on paper, this is an evenly matched football game. This win will springboard the winner to an 8-9 win season. If Michigan can find a way to be 5-0 when they host Michigan State. Notre Dame plays at Michigan State and then Stanford. If they lose this game, they could be below .500 going into October.
Abel (orlando, fl)
Of the QB's mentioned in the running for the Heisman, which one looked on target? How did Christian Ponder do?
Mel Kiper (1:04 PM)
Ponder played Sanford. It's early. Don't make any snap judgements. Most of the QBs put up good numbers for the most part. Mallett, Pryor. Locker, I was shocked that they took the ball out of his hands on the final drive. He didn't throw a pass until 4th and 7, an obvious pass situation. This is not a BYU team that had Ty Detmer at QB. They had a freshman QB. They have to let Locker throw the ball in crunch time.
Ted P ((NJ))
When Terrel Pryor wins against Miami will it be because of his legs or arms? and if you believe a combination of both, will his legs set up his arm or vice-versa?
Mel Kiper (1:06 PM)
He's going to beat you with both. He has to start beating people with his arm. You're not going to beat Miami with your legs. For Pryor to be an NFL QB down the road, he has to be a good mechanical QB. He has improved. The most underrated player on the team is Sanzenbacher.
Tim (Baltimore, MD)
Mel: List the top 2 or 3 performances you expect from rookies this weekend. Thanks.
Mel Kiper (1:09 PM)
A lot of rookies will be playing a part. Key guys this week would be in Cincinnati against New England. Gresham and Shipley should be key guys in the offense there. With the Lions, I want to see Suh disrupt Jay Cutler a bit, if he can do that and Best, see if he can be a dynamo for them. Miami and Buffalo, with Odrick, Misi and Spiller. Ryan Mathews on Monday night against Kansas City, who has Dexter McCluster. And with Pittsburgh and Pouncey, I want to watch him. Obviously Bradford for St. Louis.
Donald (Eugene, OR)
How do you rate Oregon's senior Line Backers? Will the Duck's lack of beef on the D-line be a problem this weekend?
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
No, I don't think it will be. I like their defensive talent. They're challenge is replacing Ward in that secondary. He was arguably their best defensive player. I like their LBs. This is a nice trip for them to go to SEC country and playing Tennessee.
Mel Kiper (1:11 PM)
They have a developing star in Kenjon Barner, a sophomore do-it-all in the backfield. Great return man. He'll be one of the best players on the field.
Phil (Tuscaloosa, Al)
What are your top 5 draft prospects for each team in the PSU Alabama game this weekend?
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
The top 5 are: Marcell Dareus, but he's not playing; Mark Ingram, but he's got the knee injury and he's not playing. Then you go to Julio Jones; Mark Barron, junior S; Jack Crawford, junior DE, PSU; Dont'a Hightower, sophomore LB, Alabama; Stefen Wisniewski, senior OG, PSU.
What must Ralph Friedgen have to do at Maryalnd for him to lose his job? The last time we were in a Bowl Game was in 2002! Navy should've won the game and they kept running the same play over and over again. In the option that difficult to stop?
Mel Kiper (1:16 PM)
Friedgen has two years left on his contract. They have the coach in waiting. He's been trying to change the attitude of this football team. They've found ways to lose. They were an underdog against Navy and they had the goal line stand to pull off the win. They have some playmakers on offense and defense. They are one of those teams that could go from 2-10 to 6-6. They could be 4-1 heading into mid-October and facing Clemson. 7-5 is not out of the question if they gained some confidence as the season goes along.
Will Kellen Moore be a highly sought after player in the draft or will NFL teams wish he had Jamarcus Russel's arm?
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
First, he's only a junior. He won't come out early. The big thing working against him is size. He's only 5-11.5. Doesn't have the big arm. But he's a tremendous college QB. There is not a college QB that prepares as much as he does. He very rarely, if ever, makes a bad decision on the field. He's going to work on becoming a better deep thrower this year. Size and arm strength will work against him. But enjoy him as a college player, because he has another year.
Do you think that Pouncey's best chance for the NFL, considering his poor showing Saturday, would be to stay at guard?
Mel Kiper (1:20 PM)
That's the easy determination, based on the fact that I counted six snaps that rolled back to Brantley. But it wasn't a Brantley-Pouncey thing. It wasn't a center-QB exchange. This was from the shotgun. South Florida is a much better football team than they saw last week. They can't do that again. I liked what I saw from Omarius Hines. He made some nice catches. They need some guys to emerge around Brantley. They have some time to get the kinks out.
Mel Kiper (1:21 PM)
But I'm not about to give up on the kid yet. This is his first year at center.
Chase R (AZ)
do you beleive the bengals D will have another good year, and how will we stack up against the Pats?
Mel Kiper (1:22 PM)
The way they get after you on defense with the Bengals is key. This is a good matchup. Strength against strength. Defensively is where the Patriots will have to show they are a Super Bowl caliber team. I'm excited about the Patriots to an extent. They have a lot of questions on defense. For Cincy, I have questions about Palmer. He's inaccurate with some of his throws. I'd like to see him be more consistent. Good matchup.
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
That's one of the more interesting games for me. It should be a down to the wire game. Which QB makes a play down the stretch to help get the win?
Josh (Spokane WA)
Now that BSU has cleared a huge hurdle in VT, how do you feel a possible NCG run could effect the draft status of guys that are seniors? Especially invoving guys like Winterswyk, Pettis, Titus Young. I personally think Young is too small for the next level but the other 2 might see a large change in stock? Or is individual effort more of deciding factor?
Mel Kiper (1:26 PM)
I don't think Young is too small. He's very fast and athletic. His speed will be an attention getter. Young is 5-11 and 170 pounds. Pettis is a strong, very physically imposing receiver. He's 6-2, 205. Young runs about a 4.4 and Pettis is 4.6. Nate Potter is another one to watch. He's a OG/OT prospect. Winterswyk is an all out hustler. Johnson will have a chance to play in the NFL. We know what they can do. They're pretty well defined. These kids will all be scouted thoroughly. This run is expected. They have Oregon State, they're a good football team.
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
Everyone's talking about BSU's schedule, but Oklahoma only beat Utah State, 31-24. And that was in Norman. BSU plays Nevada, Oregon State. They play six teams that went to bowl games last year. Utah State is an up and coming team. If BSU goes undefeated, they deserve to play for the title. I'll give the SEC a mulligan this year as they're a little down this year, I think.
Mel Kiper (1:30 PM)
Florida, struggles with a team that went 1-11. LSU barely hung on to beat a UNC without 13 starters. Tennessee, they're down this year. Alabama, with all of their losses with Dareus and Ingram being out. So, I'll give the SEC a mulligan. There is a reason why all of those teams in the top 10 were rooting for Virginia Tech. They wanted BSU out of the equation.
What are your keys to the Ravens Jets game? I don't see Sanchez and the Jets offense moving the ball well, but I'm not sure I see the Ravens offense moving the ball too well either.
Mel Kiper (1:32 PM)
You would expect a lower scoring game. It's going to be a war. The Jets defense attacks, attacks, attacks. And the Ravens are still trying to get healthy in the secondary. There is no Ed Reed. The Raven offense has added a new talent at WR. But they don't have a lot of speed. Their OL has to be shored up. I expect this to be one of those 16-13 kinds of games.
Paul (Sacramento, CA)
week 1... top 3 QB's in the NCAA as it stands today? Who do you take?
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
Locker, Luck, Mallett are your top three pro prospects. In terms of performance, Kellen Moore. He had as good a game as you could in that environment. Diondre Borel from Utah State played great. They put up good numbers and did a heckuva job. And Christian Ponder, he's my second highes rated senior QB.
what did you think of ronald johnson for usc? he looked like a man among boys against the rainbows
Mel Kiper (1:35 PM)
Johnson has a lot of talent. He's now my second highest rated senior WR. He's a good football player. He has good speed. Very hard worker. Deep threat. He runs in the 4.4 range. He's the kind of guy that you could be looking at as a Day 2 possibility.
Mel Kiper (1:36 PM)
Matt Barkley looked phenomenal. I did say that he has the potential to be an early round pick. He's dropped some weight. He's a good passer. He's off to a great start and is a big time QB. The Pac 10 is loaded with good QBs.
I've been a fan of Noel Devine for a while now....where do you see him getting drafted in the NFL and possibly by who. I know his size is a huge question, but do you see him overcoming that?
Mel Kiper (1:37 PM)
You're carrying three backs and they all complement each other. He plays with passion. Runs hard. He can light up the scoreboard at any point with his speed. He's a guy you think about in the 3-4 round.
What kind of NFL chances do you give VT's Tyrod Taylor? He looked pretty accurate this weekend, and he's always been known as a leader.
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
He has been. What he needs to do is keep evolving with the offense. They have Boykins as a very good player, but they need to be more diversified in the passing game. They have a chance to have a heckuva year. They could have only one loss going into the Georgia Tech game. They have a brutal November after that. How VT plays the rest of the year will impact how Boise State is viewed.
James (Provo, Utah)
What do you think about Max Hall in Arizona? Did anyone see that coming?
Mel Kiper (1:42 PM)
I always had a nice opinion on Max Hall. I said: "25-year-old rookie. Throws nice ball. Accurate, but not strong arm. Not real mobile. Smart guy. Lacks ideal height. Timing-touch passer." He was a very good collegiate signal caller. Athletically, he had a 32-inch vertical. That's good for a QB. He completed 67.2 percent of his passes. He's kind of a Jeff Garcia type.
Mel Kiper (1:42 PM)
Bruce Gradkowski as well. That kind of QB. A little bit of Jake Delhomme in Max Hall.
Pittsburgh and Connecticut both dissapointed. Any hope for a national contender from the Big East this year?
Mel Kiper (1:46 PM)
I don't think Pitt disappointed, they went out to Utah and lost in OT. That was a hard fought game. We knew it was going to be a tough game going in. Utah was favored by 3 points going in and they won by 3 in OT. That's no embarrassment to lose that game in OT. Their redemption game is Thursday, Sept. 23 when they host Miami. As for UConn, they were outplayed early, they got the game to 24-10. DJ Shoemate, a transfer from USC, he gets down to the 2 yard line and fumbles and Michigan goes down and scores to make it 31-10 instead of 24-17. UConn is going to get better. They had some key guys to replace in the secondary. They play Texas Southern this week. Then they play Temple, that's a tough game for them. They could still be an 8-4 team.
Randy (St. Paul)
Hey Mel, why is everyone underrating the Vikings this year? Remember the beginning of last year when Favre was too old and beat up, and no one ever heard of Sidney Rice? Favre makes everyone better and you have to figure AD will have a better year.
Mel Kiper (1:49 PM)
Everything went right for the Vikings last year. They had a very fortunate season. Everything Favre touched turned to gold. All the weapons they had. Peterson needs to hold on to the ball better. But now, Harvins been battling the migraines. Minnesota will be there. Will they have everything fall their way again? Will Brett Favre have the same success? There's no way at 41 he'll play like that again. There is reason to favor Green Bay in the division, but I want to see that defense step it up. I don't see Minnesota getting to the Super Bowl this year.
Who are the top three going into the 2011 draft to watch this season
Mel Kiper (1:52 PM)
After the first week, here are some guys I will be watching this second week. From Idaho, senior QB, Nathan Enderle and their senior S, Shiloh Keo. They have a heckuva coach up there. They're playing at Nebraska. I want to see how Enderle handles that situation. The team with the best CB duo in college football is Nebraska with Prince Amukamara and Alfonzo Dennard. Daniel Thomas from Kansas State was my player of the week and another guy to watch. The Big 12 had three backs get off to great starts in Murray, Hunter, Thomas.
Mel Kiper (1:53 PM)
Another guy to watch is Drake Nevis of LSU.
Mel how far off are the 49ers from being a Superbowl contender? Is Alex Smith the future for the Niners?
Mel Kiper (1:55 PM)
That's the determining thing. They'll go as far as Alex Smith will take them. This team was put together very well. They have a young OL. They have playmakers. But this team will go as far as Smith takes them. He'll either prevent them from going or enable them to go. He's not going to be great, but he has to be like Trent Dilfer. He has to manage the game. Not make any mistakes. The pressure is on him. It's a playoff caliber team. There is talent around him. If the QB play was more proven, you'd say this is a playoff team.
Is Kelechi Osemele a legit prospect at Left tackle?
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
Yes, yes he is. That's one of the matchups I wanted to highlight. He has been for the last four weeks my third highest rated junior OT. He's 6-5, 330. He has real good feet. Tremendous power. Finishes blocks. He will get to the second level. He'll be up against Adrian Clayborn, my fifth highest rated player on my Big Board. If he's not up against Clayborn, he'll be up against Broderick Binns, another big time prospect.
Where did you see Locker going last year if he came out,? and how many spots did he loose or gain? I feel he threw out a lot of money to come back for a mediocre team, and the whole lock-out or rookie salary issue. What are your thoughts? thanks
Mel Kiper (2:01 PM)
I think he would have been the No. 1 pick overall. That would have impacted Sam Bradford. There was talk and speculation that if Locker had come out that maybe the Redskins hadn't have made the trade for McNabb. They would have just sat at No. 4 and picked either Bradford or Locker. This year, he's going back and doesn't have a great team around him. This is a team that hasn't been to a bowl game in 8 years. That's why I don't know why they took the ball out of Locker's hands late in the game. You'd like to see him have more of a chance late in the game. Nebraska comes to Washington later in the season. I want to see those two great CBs and how Locker handles it. He doesn't have the talent around him as some of these other QBs.
Mel Kiper (2:02 PM)
We're kicking off the NFL this weekend. We'll have a lot of reaction from those games. And I don't remember a Saturday this early in the college season having this many good games. We'll have a lot to look at in terms of prospects.
Buzzmaster (2:02 PM)
Thanks for chatting Mel!