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!
Mel Kiper (1:02 PM)
We have a lot of personnel discussions to have and Cam Newton makes his debut on my Top 25 Big Board.
Where do you think Pat Devlin (Delaware) will go in the NFL Draft? If he's around in the second round, I would love to see Washington pick him up.
Mel Kiper (1:03 PM)
I like him. THere's a lot to like about him. He has good size, an NFL arm. He makes good decisions. He was at Penn State, but he didn't want to wait for Clark. He has a chance to be a 3-4 round pick.
Nic (Jacksonville, FL)
If Cam Newton declares for the draft is he the #1 pick? Lets not forget if he goes to the combine he'll blow everyone away. Remember Jamarcus Russel?
Mel Kiper (1:04 PM)
He may well be able to do that. He debuted at No. 15. I know there are some that feel he's a second round pick. I think he's a first rounder. There's a lot of work to be done on him, as far as making sure the intangibles are there. He's going to be the face of your organization, you have to check him out. His accuracy is underrated. He brought them back from being down 21-7 against Georgia. I think he'll be a mid first rounder.
MEL- With all that upbeat talk of the Bears 'O' line, what do you really think? Obviously we'll have a better feel come Friday but my gut isn't sold.
Mel Kiper (1:06 PM)
They've done a little bit better. Mike Martz has changed it up a little bit. He realizes that they can't have the deep drops that you would like with Cutler. That was a nice win for them in beating Minnesota. It was like a play out game, if you lose that game. The Bears basically issued a knockout punch to Minnesota. The line has played better, you have to give him credit for coaching them up. They're going to play an excellent defensive front in Detroit in a few weeks. They have a tough schedule the rest of the way. They will be tested up front in the upcoming weeks. Cutler will have to show his meddle. He's as tough as they come.
Mel, Comparing Michael Vick to Cam Newton with my buddy... What made Vick a better prospect?
Mel Kiper (1:09 PM)
Vick was just an awesome talent. He elevated Tech the way Newton is doing with Auburn. Vick was a difference maker. He elevated Tech to national championship status. Vick is the best running QB in the history of the game. Newton is a talented kid too. He has a great arm. Vick does too. No one will be as good a runner as Vick, but Newton has it all. His tools are off the charts. The biggest thing with Newton is he lacks experience. He will only have played in 14 games at the major college level. We won't have seen a QB go to the NFL with only 14 major college starts.
Mel - how do you think LaMichael James stacks up compared to the likes of Mark Ingram and other top draft-eligible backs?
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
I have Ingram higher. He's in a conventional offense. A lot of holes open up for James, because of that offense. Ingram is an excellent tackle breaker. I would like to see him catch balls out of the backfield more and I would like to see him as a return man.
Alex (New York)
Kyle Wilson has had an awful season both as a PR and as a CB. Have you seen any indication of what he's doing wrong compared to his last year at Boise State when he was a stud?
Mel Kiper (1:11 PM)
He's a rookie. He's a kid coming in. He's shown flashes. He's a work in progress. He has a lot of confidence. He has a good work ethic. They put a lot of pressure on their corners. They have to blitz. He'll keep getting better. He was worth getting picked where he was.
Is Ryan Mallett better than Jake Locker?
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
Right now I have him rated higher. I have Mallett as the 8th best player and Locker the 17th best player. He has to play better. Akeem Ayers, junior OLB, and Rahim Moore are both blue chippers and both solidly in my top 25. We'll see what Locker can do against those guys and the UCLA defense. Washington needs to win their last three games to become bowl eligible. They haven't been to a bowl game since 2002. They have to beat UCLA, Cal and Washington State to go to a bowl.
Out the last few drafts, if you were starting a franchise which of these two QB's would you select, Henne or Sanchez?
Mel Kiper (1:16 PM)
Sanchez, definitely. First of all, the jury is still out on Henne. He's a tough kid, great kid, powerful arm, but he's wildly inconsistent. That's why he was benched in favor of Pennington. It's significant difference between the two. Miami made a decision to take Jake Long No. 1 and I thought they should have taken Matt Ryan. That was a huge decision. This is a team that took Culpepper over Brees in free agency and took Long over Ryan in the draft. Sanchez is going to be a big time QB. I've said it all along. He and Stafford were big time prospects. They're outstanding QBs.
Johnny (Fort Collins, CO)
Mel- the Broncos need ILBs and safeties. They have two 2nd Round picks and one 3rd. Is there anyone worth taking there?
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
The best ILBs are Greg Jones at MSU, Kelvin Sheppard, LSU; Quan Sturdivant, UNC; Nate Irving, NC State. Your best safeties are juniors. Rahim Moore, UCLA is the best.
Cliff (Seattle, WA)
Do you think Locker can still be a franchise Qb once he has talent around him or will you have to wait till the Senior bowl to speak on the record?
Mel Kiper (1:20 PM)
It would be a real stretch to call him a franchise QB right now, based on the way he's played. He hasn't played well. He's struggling with accuracy. He's struggling with game management. He should have been playing better. 4-20 earlier in the year against Nebraska. If you're going to be franchise QB, you have to have a great year. That's not to say that he won't become one. He has all of the physical skills. If a QB coach can mold him, then yeah. He was the No. 1 player going into the year. He looked like a franchise QB going into the year, but right now, he doesn't.
J Treehorn (Malibu)
Is Tyler Thigpen the answer to the Dolphins QB woes? How did you grade him?
Mel Kiper (1:21 PM)
I liked him when he came out of college. He showed some promise. He's a good athlete. Good runner. He has ability. I liked him coming out of the small college ranks. I thought he showed flashes in KC. At worst, he's a very good backup QB. I have no issues with him.
Todd(PA) [via mobile]
What are your thoughts of the first 8 weeks for Dez Bryant? I know it's early but doesn't he seem like a new Top WR in this league? Does his potential have the possibility to be better then Andre J, Fitz..Dez just looks a Man among Boys.Thoughts?
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
Definitely. There's no question he can become one of the best in the league. I projected him in the draft report, I had him going 7th to Cleveland. They took Joe Haden instead. I didn't think he'd drop that far. He had a grade as the 11th best player and that was because he didn't play a lot last year. He has incredible hands. He's a TD maker. He was the top WR in the draft last year by a decent margin. I said he had the skill to become a go-to option. I think he could be the best WR in the NFL as early as next year or the year after.
After D-Line and Wide Receiver, is Cornerback the next position of strength in the 2011 draft? Who do you like after Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara?
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
Definitely DL. WR moreso because of the junior class. The next best position this year...you might say QB. With Luck. Newton. Mallett. Gabbert. If they all come out. Pat Devlin. Locker. Stanzi. Ponder. Dalton. You have a lot of QBs. Fullbacks aren't back. Not many teams are looking for them, but there are some to be had if you need one.
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
There are some pretty good 3-4 OLBs as well.
What 2 teams would you like to see in the National Championship?
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
I'd like to see Boise State, because I want to end this debate once and for all. They brought back 21 starters. They haven't lost in two years. They have a Heisman candidate at QB. They have good players on the defensive side. They won't be the same team next year. The only starter they lost was Kyle Wilson. I want to see this Boise State team, who beat TCU last year in a bowl game. I would like to settle this argument once and for all, against another undefeated team. Obviously, if Auburn and Oregon win out, they play for the title. If one of those teams lose, then the debate is does a one-loss SEC team trump an undefeated TCU, Boise State? The best matchup would be Boise State against Auburn or Boise State against Oregon.
Cliff (Seattle, WA)
Mel, If Luck and Newton don't declare this year, that leaves next year with Luck, Newton and Barkley. Dream come true for teams needing Qb help?
Mel Kiper (1:31 PM)
I can't see Newton going back. I can see Luck going back. A lot of things with Luck depend on Jim Harbaugh. His name will come up for a lot of NFL jobs. Cowboys, 49ers, Bears, all of these different teams with issues. If he gets an NFL job, would Luck leave then? Possibly. If Harbaugh stays, then Luck might remain. I can't see Newton staying. Barkley would be there as a true junior. Does Mallett stay? I think he comes out. Gabbert would be in that draft. Cousins at Michigan State is a quality QB. Pryor is in that draft.
Hey Mel, I'm curious. What are your thoughts on Colt McCoy? So far he has looked like a god send. Never a moment too big (final drive in regulation against a good Jets D and the first OT drive that Stuckey fumbled on), and very accurate on the throws less than 20 yards. So the only thing I need to see from Colt is his accuracy on his deep throws and see how he reacts to the weather changes. Agree??
Mel Kiper (1:34 PM)
He's done a good job. He's come a long way. He's gotten a lot of help from Hillis. Great find for them in that trade from Denver. That OL has been great. That's been a help. Having Ben Watson and Cribbs is good. Colt has done a great job. He's not trying to go beyond his means and trying to show that he can be a solid QB in this league. Certainly, he's accounted himself very well so far. They've won games or at least been in the thick of it.
Have you ever seen a team ranked #1 with as little 1st round talent as Oregon?
Mel Kiper (1:36 PM)
Let's face it, how many first rounders does Auburn have? Auburn is where they are because of two one-year wonders in Newton and Fairley. Oregon's best players Thomas at QB is a sophomore and James is a third-year sophomore. They don't have any OL that are rated highly. Bair and Rowe are nice players in the front seven. But they don't have any elite prospects. Oregon is an outstanding college team. I don't know if it's happened before, but even Auburn has just the two entities. And I've contended all along that without Newton, they're a 7-5 team.
Eric Berry hasnt really been living up to the hype that i and many fans expected, think he will get out of this rookie slump or bust?
Mel Kiper (1:37 PM)
He'll be fine. He has a chance to be an outstanding player. He has a lot of talent and a lot of ability. These guys are rookies. He'll be an excellent player.
How does the OL class look for the upcoming draft?
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
No top guys on the OL. No elite prospects. This draft does not have those kind of guys like Trent Williams, Okung, Pouncey. The majority of these guys are rated between 19-32. Anthony Castonzo is No. 20, Derrek Sherod, Gabe Carimi. The best non-I-A player is Ben Ijalana who has a chance to be a second round pick. Rodney Hudson is by far the best pure guard. Mike Pouncey, the brother of Marquis, and Stephen Wisniewski. There is no top 10 OL this year.
Daniel (Pasadena,CA (Pac-10 Headquarters))
Many experts are saying an NFL lockout is certain after the season. How does that affect players like Andrew Luck? Does he still declare for the draft? Thanks Mel!
Mel Kiper (1:41 PM)
It could effect things. The agents and players will watch it very closely and see how the situation is going. Of my top 10, 9 are underclassmen. In my top 15, 12 are underclassmen. That's going to determine how strong this draft is. How many of those elite 12 juniors come out will determine how strong this draft is.
Mel Kiper (1:42 PM)
Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska is No. 5; Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue; Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa at No. 14 are the three seniors in the top 15.
Mel Kiper (1:43 PM)
At 16, I have Drake Nevis. 17 is Jake Locker. Von Miller, OLB. Then the OTs I mentioned before. Those are your seniors.
Alan (Walnut Creek, CA)
What round will Case Keenum be drafted?
Mel Kiper (1:44 PM)
He's hurt. He's trying to get that extra year. He was a system QB at Houston. He doesn't have the ideal size or the strong arm. He was a later round type prospect even before the injury.
Why are you so high on Locker and not on Colin Kaepernick? I realize Locker plays against better competition but Kaepernick is much more accurate, a better runner, and has better size.
Mel Kiper (1:46 PM)
Kaepernick is 6-5, 230 and has 4.5 speed. He has a strong arm. But his mechanics throwing the ball is a concern. That's where you're talking about the precise passing that's critical for the NFL is a question. But his size makes him intriguing. That Nevada-Boise State game is a tough one for Boise State. You have 2 incredible games that day, the day after Thanksgiving. Arizona-Oregon. Nevada also has Vai Taua at RB that is very good.
You like 3-4 OLB Justin Houston. Is he strictly a pass rusher?
Mel Kiper (1:48 PM)
He has to be more productive. He has three games this year where he's been outstanding. I want to see a little more consistency with Houston. I've seen him in three games this year where he looked like a mid-first rounder. Ayers at UCLA, Miller at Texas A-M are the two best pass rushing 3-4 OLBs. A couple other guys are Justin Houston and Dontay Moch from Nevada.
Looking back at the Pat's draft a few years ago, they traded down to get Butler and passed on Vonte Davis...we know this is bad now, how bad was it then?
Mel Kiper (1:52 PM)
They wanted to stockpile picks. That's what Belichick wanted to do. He wanted strength in numbers. Not just trying to go for the one guy, but build his overall depth. They drafted 12 guys in 2009. They drafted 12 this past year. That's 24 players they've drafted in the last 2 years. This year they have 7 picks in the first four rounds. Those drafts were highly productive. In the 2009 draft, they ended up with 5 key entities. This past draft, they're going to have 6-7 key entities. He's gone for quantity. He was hoping for quality, which he got, but he was looking for strength in numbers. If they can pick up extra picks, then they're going to.
Looking at Jay Cutler now and then when you were scouting him- how much has he progressed as a player/QB?
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
He's about where I thought he would be. I thought he'd be a QB that always had enormous talent. A rocket arm. Underrated mobility. Tough kid. What I question was the intangibles. His body language. Whether he would be a true leader. The inconsistency. Questionable decision making. He's a guy that would look great in some games and red flags in others. My scouting report really hasn't changed. I wouldn't amend it at all. He is what he is.
Greg (South County)
How do you size up freshman RB Marcus Lattimore? Who does he compare to?
Mel Kiper (1:56 PM)
One word: stud. He's without question the best freshman out there. He was considered clearly one of the best incoming players and he's lived up to it. He's a local kid. He runs with power. With good pad level. He runs with attitude. He's a remarkable freshman. He has SC poised to play in the SEC championship game. They're 7-3 and have a chance at a 9-3 year. They have a shot to play Auburn in a nice rematch in the SEC title game.
Mel Kiper (1:57 PM)
He's got two more years in the SEC and South Carolina. That doesn't bode well for the competition.
If James Starks had not missed his entire Senior season at Buffalo with that shoulder injury, where would he have gone in the 2010 draft?
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
If he would have had a year he had as a juinor, when he was phenomenal (1,333 rushing yards, 16 TDs, 4.9 ypc), he could have been no worse than a second or third round pick. He ended up going to Green Bay with a sixth round pick.
Mel Kiper (2:00 PM)
Very intersting week. Boise State plays Friday night. Auburn has the week off. Oregon has the week off. TCU has the week off. But still some good games. Ohio State at Iowa is an intriguing evaluation game. Stanzi has had a great year, so we'll be watching him against the Ohio State defense. A lot of prospects in that game. The other game I have my eye on is Nebraska-Texas A-M. Two highly regarded teams on the road with Nebraska and Ohio State.
Buzzmaster (2:01 PM)
Thanks for chatting Mel!