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!
Canes Pundit (Miami, FL)
Mel, please tell me Miami CB Brandon Harris isn't projected to go in the 1st round so that he stays for his senior year.
Mel Kiper (1:04 PM)
He's a borderline first rounder. I have him right now as the third highest rated junior CB. He's got a late first, early second round grade. His sophomore year, he had a great season. This year was good, not great. But you like his feel and instincts in coverage. And he's also willing to come up and support the run. He wasn't as impactful as he was last year, but I think he would be better served to go back. He would be the 4-6 best CB this year to the 1-2 best next year.
Adam Goldberg (State College, PA)
Evan Royster, Penn State running back, is the leading rusher in Penn State history. How does his struggle this season effect his draft status?
Mel Kiper (1:05 PM)
Running backs have to have great years to go high. RBs who have had very good years have dropped in the draft. Most teams have a stable of RBs, 2 and sometimes 3 that are good. Teams that are drafting in the top 10-15 of the draft, there are none that are desperate for a RB.
Mel Kiper (1:05 PM)
Royster, while he is a very patient runner, he was contained in a number of games this season.
Winnie Cooper ("The Years")
Do you think Cinci can play spoiler at home and beat the Chargers
Mel Kiper (1:08 PM)
You might remember a time a long time ago when Dan Fouts and the Chargers went into Cincinnati after beating Miami and the Bengals were the spoiler that year for the Chargers. In that environment if cold weather is a factor, then yeah, they could be. However, San Diego with Phillip Rivers doesn't lose in December. Cincinnati hasn't quit. They had a chance in Pittsburgh but the two INTs hurt there. They've battled. San Diego has to be careful. They could be one of those teams that could be on the outside looking in on the playoffs. They need to do a better job in the regular season. They let too many games slip away this year.
Ryan (Medford OR)
Mel, how is Oregon going to the NCG with 2 NFL players?
Mel Kiper (1:11 PM)
They have a lot of prospects, but they don't have a lot of highly rated prospects. They have two outstanding football minds in Chip Kelly on offense and Nick Aliotti on defense. And they have a lot of outstanding college players. Paulson replaced Ed Dixon. Maile at receiver who's an excellent college WR, just not a high NFL prospect. They have two excellent collegiate LBs. They made up for the loss of TJ Ward in the secondary. You put it all together and they're able to play for the national championship.
Jared (Denver CO)
Merry Christmas Mel, what is your opinion on Nick Farley at Auburn and how he rates with Suh and McCoy when they came out?
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
Suh had the higher grade. I had him ahead of McCoy. Farley will be right there. I can't say that I'll be as high on him as on Suh, but he'll be there with McCoy. The problem with Farley early on is there are a lot of 3-4 teams that are picking early and he's ideally suited to be a 4-3 DT. You're looking at one of the top 5-6 players in the draft. This year, I thought he was the most destructive DL in the interior in the country. Bowers was the most destructive DE. He's a phenomenal player. He'll go early in the draft.
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
Remember, he's only a one-year guy. He only started a couple of games last year.
Mel, thoughts on Tebow's first start?
Mel Kiper (1:15 PM)
I thought for what he asked them to do, which was use his legs was good. He threw it up a couple of times and Lloyd made a couple of nice catches. His problem is that on the short throws he isn't accurate. He showed competitiveness, leadership, desire. But the concerns about his passing ability is still evident. His intangibles are still there. That's why I think he'll ultimately be an H-back - we saw how well he was in the open field running the ball.
Doug (Boston, MA)
The Patriots have a ton of options in the upcoming draft. At this point, do you feel they will stockpile players or look to trade up and nab a highly-touted prospect?
Mel Kiper (1:16 PM)
The Patriots could use a guy like Farley. He would look good in a Patriot uniform. Dareus would too. That's an area they could look to address to move up to get a guy like that. Then they have the ability to wait and see how the board goes. They have 7 picks in the first four rounds.
Mike H (Seattle, WA)
Do you still have Locker as a late 1st rounder? With a good bowl game (rematch w/ Nebraska) and Senior bowl could he sneak back into the middle of the first round?
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
He could. Right now, he's 23rd on the Big Board. He was going to go No. 4 to Washington last year. This year, his stock has dropped dramatically, but he has a chance to recover a little bit. Washington's back in the mix for a QB. They'll be picking in the top 10-15 and Shanahan already showed he was interested last year.
Pete (New Mexico)
Which defensive position offers the best value in rounds 2-3?
Mel Kiper (1:20 PM)
With the depth of the DL, there will be players slipping through to the 2-3 round. Bailey from Miami, Jordan from Cal, Heyward from OSU, Austin from UNC could all be second rounders. They're all seniors. Also, WR. It will be interesting to see where some of these guys go. There will be some nice looking WRs in that area.
After watching the DII and DIII championships this weekend, are there any players that could have a future in the NFL?
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
Guys from I-AA, II, III: Cecil Shorts from Mt. Union; David Mims from Virginia Union; Rackley from Lehigh; Fusco from Slippery Rock; Kenrick Ellis from Hampton; Ryan Jones from NW Missouri State.
Hi Mel - I am a die hard Miami fan who's been dreaming of the second coming of Marino for years. I am not ready to give up on Henne yet - what's your take on him?
Mel Kiper (1:26 PM)
Nothing has differed on what my analysis was on him coming out of Michigan. I was very surprised when Miami didn't take Matt Ryan. I understand that Jake Long is an outstanding LT. They tried to get the LT and get the QB later. But my thought is that when you have an elite QB, you take him. You can get by in this league with a decent to good LT, you don't need a great one. You don't need a hall of fame level LT to win Super Bowls, look at New Orleans or New England. What you do need is a good QB. When you pass on that, it's a risky move. Henne had a lot of questions coming out. He was wildly inconsistent at Michigan. He had throws where he was just not on target. Mobility was a concern. Nothing has changed. We've seen games where he's been outstanding, then the next week he looks like he shouldn't be a starting QB. He can't level his performance off. You have to be very concerned on if you can get to a Super Bowl and win it with him at QB.
What do the Bills do at QB? I like Fitz but I don't think he will ever be an elite QB. They pick 6th right now so luck is out of the picture. Do you think the look at Newton either by trading back?
Mel Kiper (1:29 PM)
I think trading back is an option. It's too early to take an OT. OT is their biggest need. The only QB I would take is Luck. Fitzpatrick has looked good. He's a riverboat gambler in every sense of that term. He has no fear throwing the football. He will keep plays alive with his legs. I like his gunslinging mentality. He's very smart. I wouldn't take a Mallet or Newton or Locker at that point. They need another WR. They could look at AJ Green there. He's an outstanding red zone threat. I'd look at him there. Newton, Mallet and Locker all come into this process with some concerns.
THomas (San Francisco)
Where would Ryan Williams and Darren Evans of VT go in the draft if they left school early?
Mel Kiper (1:30 PM)
Williams would be battling Mark Ingram to be the first back taken. I think he could go in the 20-35 range. Evans would benefit from another year. He's in that fourth round area.
Mike (Mission Viejo, CA)
If the Raiders beat KC next week they will be 6-0 in the AFC West. Can you think of a team that has gone 6-0 in their division and not made the playoffs?
Mel Kiper (1:32 PM)
Oakland has had a real nice year. That would be a shame for them. I give those players credit and Cable credit. The game they'd like to have back is that loss to Arizona. They also lost to San Francisco on the road. Another game they'd like to have back. The Jacksonville game they lost. That was a tough game. All road games that they could have won.
Mel Kiper (1:34 PM)
Give Hugh Jackson a lot of credit in the way he's maximizing Darren McFadden all year. McFadden has been an MVP of the league this year. They've battled hard all year.
There've been a lot of Heisman winners who's struggled in the NCG. If Newton doesn't have a great game, how does that affect his draft status? Or is he pretty much a first round lock at this point?
Mel Kiper (1:36 PM)
Sure it will effect it. That's the last time we'll see him in the pads in a game situation again if he goes into the draft. You don't want to show any red flags right now. You want to be able to go into this process with a lot of momentum. Oregon's defense had given up some points in some games. This figures to be a game where they can put some points up on the board. And Oregon will be able to put up some points on Auburn. Auburn gave up 31 to Georgia, 27 to Alabama, 27 to South Carolina. Newton has some chances to have success, but if he doesn't it will hurt his draft stock.
Can the BEARS find a way to get some protection for Cutler in the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:38 PM)
I think they've done a better job since the early part of this season in finding him some protection. But they could use an OL. The top OL are going to go in the later part of round 1. Derek Sherrod, Gabe Carimi, Ben Ijalana will all go between 15-32 and moreso between 20-32.
Hi Mel,I think I remember you had Brady Quinn as a first rounder ...but what did you think of him then and what happened to him...Could he be a viable back-up or starter in the NFL or is he doneThanks
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
Right now, he's just there with the Broncos as the third-string QB. Charlie Weis and Josh McDaniels coached together, so I'm sure Weis recommended Quinn to Denver. The problem with Quinn was that he was drafted by Cleveland and a new administration that came in didn't have any ties to him. When that happens, you become a journeyman. Teams right now would be reluctant to become anything but a backup. He'll have to wait for that to happen to become a backup and see if someone gets hurt or gets his chance.
Steven (San diego )
Hey Mel, Happy holidays and a quick question. What do you think the chances are that Vai Taua ends up in an NFL camp? I know that he is small, but he is a compact explosive runner. What is the chance he gets an oppertunity?
Mel Kiper (1:41 PM)
I think he could. He benefits from that Pistol offense. He runs with authority. He's been effective in that offense. No question that he deserves a chance.
Matt (St. Louis)
Gabbert filed to see where he stands for the 2011 draft. Do you see him comming back to Mizzou or will he be enticed by a possible first or second round designation.
Mel Kiper (1:43 PM)
Gabbert's going to be one of those guys where if you look at him right now, he's right behind Mallet and Newton. He could be a first round pick, at worst a second rounder. He was very highly touted coming out of high school. It's not a pro style offense there, but he's a prototype QB from a physical standpoint. He's got very underrated mobility. You have to get the ball to the receiver who can do the most after the catch and he struggles sometimes with that. He has a chance. If he goes back, he's a first round pick. If he comes out, he's a borderline first. Put it this way, he's got to get first round consideration. He's too talented.
what do you think of Julio Jones? Who does he compare favorably to?
Mel Kiper (1:45 PM)
He's a big kid. You can pick any of the big receivers in the NFL. He's 6-4, 222. This kid is highly touted since high school He's a natural receiver. Very physical. The suddeness of his cuts you like. Great blocker. He needs to work on two things: more consistent catching the football and prove his durability. He's not a top 10 guy. I have him as the 9th overall player and think he'll go 15-25.
Are there any impact ILBs (3-4 system)? Is a 3-4 DE really worth a top 10 pick?
Mel Kiper (1:47 PM)
Yeah, Marcell Dareus, who is an ideal 3-4 DE. Nick Farley would be an ideal 3-4 DE too.
Mel Kiper (1:47 PM)
As for the LBs, you could be looking at Miller from Texas A-M. He's a 3-4 OLB. Akeem Ayers from UCLA could be a guy that could be an ILB in a 3-4.
Leach to UMD? Good idea?
Mel Kiper (1:51 PM)
I hope so. I'm a Maryland fan. I'm born and raised in Baltimore and I've been a Maryland fan my whole life. I hope so. He's like the Mike Martz of college football. Mike Leach has proven himself as an OC and as a head coach. He's a proven winner. Maryland has its sights set on the Orange Bowl. They don't want to be a team that goes to minor bowls. They want to be elite. They had a nice turnaround this year. They've been good before. Bobby Ross had a great run at Maryland. Friedgen did a good job initially at Maryland, but he hasn't recruited as well as he needed to, especially in Maryland and the Baltimore area. I see some outstanding players in the Baltimore area playing at West Virginia, Connecticut, Iowa.
How deep of a CB draft is this? Are there potential starters in the 2nd or 3rd rounds?
Mel Kiper (1:52 PM)
Yeah. I think there are every year. There is a kid that had some injuries this year in Raf'I Dowling. He missed the majority of the season. He could be a guy that you could get in the 2-3 round. Jimmy Smith from Colorado. Davon House from New Mexico. They're all seniors.
Jd (Flushing, MI)
who are the elite LT in next years draft?
Mel Kiper (1:53 PM)
Nate Solder would be the top guy. Then Castanzo. They're your top two. Derek Sherrod. Gabe Carimi played LT, but he could be an outstanding RT in the NFL.
Do you think Prince Amukamara and Patrick Peterson could both wind up as TOP 5 picks?
Mel Kiper (1:55 PM)
Yes, they both could. Peterson could go in the top 5. He has those excellent return skills. Detroit could look at a CB. Dallas has a huge need at CB.
Have you seen anything out of Clausen that would make you think that the Panthers might think of passing on Luck?
Mel Kiper (2:00 PM)
That would be hard to do. I'm a big Clausen guy. I like what I've seen from him. I thought he showed well in the second half of the Cincinnati game. There were periods in the New Orleans game he looked good. Over the last 5-6 weeks, there have been games he's been good. But I don't think he's been 100%. At times he's looked heavy legged this year. The foot and toe injuries I think have prevented him from getting around the pocket like we saw at Notre Dame. I've seen LBs tackle him. He has to escape better and get back some of that quickness. He's completing 52.7% of his passes and has 2 TDs and 7 INTs. John Elway in his rookie year completed less than 50 percent of his passes with 7 TDs, 14INTS. Dan Fouts 44.8 percent, 6 TD, 13INTS. Simms, 50.6, 13-14. Peyton Manning 56.7 with 28 INTs. When you start scrutinizing rookie QBs...plus Clausen has no WRs that were highly regarded coming out of college. It's been a bad situation. The head coach wasn't coming back. It was a bad situation and Clausen has had his struggles. He has had flashes. The mobility will be better next year. Can they pass on Andrew Luck? It will be very hard to pass on him. There will be a new head coach coming in and Jimmy will be an inherited QB and inherited QBs don't normally fair well.
Mel Kiper (2:02 PM)
If I'm Carolina and I'm picking No. 2 and Luck was gone at No. 1, I'm not taking a QB. I'm taking Bowers to help the defense. If Luck's there, then you take him and maybe trade Clausen to a team that needs him for a draft pick.
Mel Kiper (2:03 PM)
I wish everybody a Merry Christmas! Safe travels if you're off to see your families. We'll be back next Wednesday to have our pre-New Year's Eve chat. Our last chat of 2010! I hope Santa Claus has all the things you want and some winning football games for your favorite college and NFL teams.