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 (1:01 PM)
Cam Newton has the buzz right now with his workout tomorrow. The combine is at the end of February. On to the questions!
Sam (Virginia Beach)
The Steelers have to go DB in round 1, don't they? Who will be available that late in round 1?
Mel Kiper (1:02 PM)
CB or OT is the two positions that they could look at with their pick. They could look at Aaron Williams, Brandon Harris, Jimmy Smith. Those are three CBs that would be figuring in that area of the first. The OTs would be Gabe Carimi, Anthony Castonzo.
With Christian Ponder earning MVP honors of the Senior Bowl and outperforming the other higher regarded quarterbacks, how much do you think this helped his draft stock?
Mel Kiper (1:04 PM)
It helped it significantly. I liked him going into the year. I thought he could be late first, early second. He struggled with the injury issue. But he had a lot of good things he brings to the table. Very intelligent. Underrated athlete. He reminded me of Chad Pennington during his career. I could see him developing into a very capable starting QB.
When Aaron Rodgers was coming out of college, what was your Analysis on him? did you think he was going to be as good as he is?
Mel Kiper (1:05 PM)
I did. I had him rated the 7th best player that year. He went 24th. I thought two teams that should have looked at him was Minnesota and Washington. The great thing about Rodgers is he completed 66 percent of his passes as a senior. My one comment in his final analysis was that very few of his passes hit the ground. At latest, Rodgers should have gone to Minnesota, and they picked at 7 and 19. They passed on him twice. Washington picked Campbell at 25, but passed on Rodgers earlier.
With the recent success of running backs drafted in the middle rounds or later, do you believe that 1st round running back could be a thing of the past?
Mel Kiper (1:08 PM)
It's been like that forever. I've been talking about this for 30 years. You can get them at any point in the draft. RBs in the NFL right now. Look at the success that the Broncos had under Mike Shanahan and taking RBs later in the draft. Thurman Thomas in Buffalo was a second round pick. Roger Craig had an outstanding career. The Cowboys with Marion Barber. Houston Texans with Arian Foster. BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Michael Bush. Darren Sproles. Ahmad Bradshaw. Brandon Jacbos. Jamal Charles. LeSean McCoy. Brian Westbrook. Pierre Thomas. Priest Holmes went undrafted out of Texas. Michael Turner. Ryan Grant. James Starks. Matt Forte.
The Vikings have gone from just missing the Super Bowl to being a super mess. If you were in charge, what would be your draft strategy for them?
Mel Kiper (1:11 PM)
They're a team that in 2005 had a chance at Aaron Rodgers and passed and the next year went with Tavaris Jackson. They went with Brett Favre and Sage Rosenfels and Jackson. The Vikings could have prevented the Packers from having Rodgers. That would have changed the course of the NFL. The division would have been completely different. As far as needs for the Vikings right now, QB is No. 1, then S, OT, DL. They're in a tough spot right now. Green Bay and New England have to be the favorites for the Super Bowl next year. Green Bay is getting all of those guys back from injury and New England has those 7 early draft picks.
Mel Kiper (1:12 PM)
I've said for years that you can find RBs anywhere in the draft and James Starks was a 6th round pick for the Packers. Blount didn't even get drafted.
Is Da'qaun Bowers an option for the Bills?
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
What you have to think about with Buffalo, with their scheme, can he play on his feet? He's a 4-3 DE. He would make more sense for a different teams. Buffalo would be looking for someone that fits the mold of what they're doing. But Bowers is the second best player in the draft.
Speaking of those 7 high picks how do you see the pats attacking the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:14 PM)
They have to get a OLB that can get after the QB. A true WR, not a slot guy. They could use a 3-4 DE and they could use a RB. I could see them trying to move up to get AJ Green or Jones. I like Green over Jones, so if you're trying to move up, I'd say you target Green. But he's going to go pretty high, in the top 3-6.
What do you think about Colin Kaepernick going to the dolphins. They need QB help, he could revive the wildcat, and they could probably get him in the second round
Mel Kiper (1:16 PM)
I think he's probably going to be in the 3-5 round area. You have to tweak his mechanics. No question about his size, ability, speed or competitiveness. But you need to change his mechanics. In a league that you have to throw the ball to be effective, you need him to be better in that area. Some people might think that he's a second rounder, but I think more the 3-4 round area. He needs a QB coach to work with him for a couple of years.
Do you see any QB's in this draft being able to step in right away, or are they projects?
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
I would say right now that they're all going to be projects. I would be surprised if there is any productivity at the QB position from this draft. Gabbert out of that Missouri offense is of concern. That snap, throw and catch offense. Newton, the big concern is the intangibles. He only has the 14 career starts. Mallet, his intangibles and long stride. Locker with the 55.4% completion, has accuracy issues. I would be surprised if any of the rookie QBs have a successful impact. I'm not saying any of them won't start, some will probably start.
How did so many teams miss on Tramon Williams? Where did you have him?
Mel Kiper (1:20 PM)
I gave him a grade as being a guy that would be a priority free agent. He had a lot of good physical characteristics and he had a lot of pass break ups during his last year in college. But guys just slide through the cracks. Larry Brown, he was the MVP of the Super Bowl. Courtland Finnegan from Tennessee.
Dave (Wolcott, CT)
Mel, continuing on the theme of mid to late round RB's who would fit that bill this year? Would you see Jordan Todman potentially as one of these, or more of a scat back like a Sproles?
Mel Kiper (1:22 PM)
Good question. It's always hard to predict. Some of the guys I like will go earlier than I think they do. Daniel Thomas. Graig Cooper, Miami, coming off the knee injury in the 2009 season; Da'Rel Scott, Maryland; Bilal Pawell, Louisville; Taiwan Jones, Eastern Washington.
Richard (Greensboro, NC)
Broncos land either Fairley or Bowers at #2, where do you see them looking in the 2nd round? Marvin Austin at DT? CB or S?
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
They could go Patrick Peterson at No. 2. They need DL, CB, LB, S, TE, OL. They could go in a variety of areas depending on the first round pick.
Mel Kiper (1:24 PM)
Say they take Fairley or Bowers, then you'd be looking at a second round CB, a guy like Brandon Harris from Miami.
Mike (San Diego)
What are the chances that Cleveland takes Julio Jones at #6 and the Rams are left out in the cold in terms of getting an elite reciever in the draft? Cleveland seems to need a reciever or two.
Mel Kiper (1:26 PM)
If AJ Green is gone, I think that's too early for Jones. I have him at No. 12. I'm not as high on him as other people. Some people have Jones higher than Green and I significantly disagree with that. I have Green No. 3. If Green is gone in the top 6, I think it would be a stretch taking Jones at 6. If both are gone by the Rams pick, they would have to ask if they want to stretch and get Torrey Smith at WR. If they don't want to stretch, then Akeem Ayers.
What positions do you see the Buccaneers picking in the first 3 rounds?
Mel Kiper (1:26 PM)
Tampa Bay, I think they're looking at DE, CB, WR, OLB.
Marc (Las Vegas)
Martez Wilson...what are your thoughts about him? You have him at #1 in your position rankings but didn't elaborate on his draft stock. Thanks Mel!
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
He's at the top of a very subpar ILB group this year. He didn't have much productivity until this year. He really came on this year. He had a neck injury in 2009. He wasn't off the charts great this year, but he developed into a very good starting ILB. 100 tackles this year, 10.5 for loss, 3 sacks, 3 forced fumbles. With another year at Illinois, he could have made a move into the first round. Depending on his workouts, he could go as high as 2-3 round.
When and where do you think AUburn reciever Darvin Adams will be drafted?
Mel Kiper (1:29 PM)
It depends on the workouts for him. The combine will be very important for him. He made some big catches for Auburn this year. We'll see about his consistency catching the football. He'll be a guy that can make a move up or down depending on the workout.
what is GB's biggest need heading into the off-season
Mel Kiper (1:31 PM)
OT, OLB, 3-4 DE, OG. But OT and OLB are the two areas that they need to address. They're a team that's well stocked going into 2011. They're the favorite to go back to the Super Bowl. They dominated late in the season and they didn't have all of their weapons. Think about their draft last year. Key elements were Bryan Bulaga, Quarless, Starks, Wilson. They got four rookies that contributed. They also had two rookies get hurt that were making some contributions.
Mel Kiper (1:34 PM)
Sam Shields was an undrafted free agent. Zombo as well. I gave Shields a 4-5 round grade. Zombo had a 7th round grade. And both of those undrafted free agents had nice impacts. So that's six rookies that had good impacts and two that got injured after looking good early.
Mel Kiper (1:36 PM)
Give John Dorsey a lot of credit for being a superstar talent evaluator for Green Bay. He's done a great job. He was on the back of my draft book when he came out as a LB out of the University of Connecticut. He was a 4th round pick of the Packers in 1984.
Howard (Columbia SC)
The Redskins need a lot of help. Where do they start?
Mel Kiper (1:38 PM)
They're one of those teams that could have had Aaron Rodgers. They're in a spot of desperation at QB. Instead they drafted Carlos Rogers. Think about the NFC East with the Redskins and Aaron Rodgers. It would be Eli Manning, Tony Romo and Michael Vick. Clearly, they would have the best QB in that division. Now in 2011, their No. 1 need is QB. QB, WR, OG, DE, but particularly QB. Right now, they're clearly the worst team in that division. Who is going to be the starting QB is anyone's guess.
What positions do you think the Colts will be picking in the first 2 rounds?
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
In the first two rounds, OT and OG. They need to solidify the offensive line. Manning isn't going to be a great QB forever. They have to get better talent around him. They could also use another WR and DT. Where they're picking, they could get an Anthony Castonzo, Gabe Carimi, Tyron Smith. You would think at least two of those three, and definitely one of those three, would be on the board for them.
Jim (Parks, NE)
Where do you think Roy Helu, Jr., will go? Will he be a success in the NFL?
Mel Kiper (1:41 PM)
The thing I like about him is he improved his production in each of the last three seasons. He's hard-nosed. He's not flashy. He's not dynamic. He's just productive. He does a good job of getting his shoulders square. He's a guy you might think about in the 5th round area. Typically, he's that 5-6 round kind of RB.
How much of a difference do you see between Prince and Peterson? Peterson is huge!
Mel Kiper (1:46 PM)
I think they're both interesting prospects. Peterson to me is a great, great return man and an excellent CB in college. There are some things he needs to work on technically to adjust to the NFL. He will go in the top 5 overall. Amukamara, in a couple of games this year, he was beaten in coverage. He's more suited for a zone scheme. He was better as a junior than senior. He's solid in run support. I think he's a top 10 guy. Peterson is a top 5 guy. There are a couple of other CBs that you can get in the first round. Jimmy Smith, there isn't a more physical corner than Smith, other than Peterson in the draft. Dowling, he looked like a top 15 pick going into the year, but had a hamstring, knee, ankle injuries. And you've got Aaron Williams. He's a tough, tough kid in run support. Pretty good break on the ball. If you get him at the right spot in the first round, it's a good pick, if it's too high, it could be some risk. If those two go in the top 10, then you look at the Lions at 13 as the next team that needs a CB. Do they reach a little bit for Jimmy Smith or Williams? Tampa Bay at 20 could look CB. Philadelphia. Baltimore. Chicago. Pittsburgh. After it's all said and done, just because of need, you could easily see 5 CBs go in the first round. Peterson, Amukamara, Smith, Williams, Harris. Last year, 5 CBs went in the first round too.
Big Jerm (Gettysburg, PA)
How do you see Andy Dalton right now? Could he be available to Minnesota a little later in the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:48 PM)
I don't think it will be too late. I think he'll be in that third round range. Extremely intelligent. He's a real student of the game. Highly respected by his teammates. He's added 35 pounds to his frame at TCU. Throws effectively on the move. There were a lot of dinks and dunks in that TCU offense. I'll probably project him as a third round pick, but I wouldn't be surprised if he goes in the second. Arizona, San Francisco, Tennessee, Washington, Minnesota, if they pass on one of the first round QBs could be looking QB in the second and look at Dalton.
What do you think of Clay Matthews brother from Oregon, what kind of player is he, where will he get drafted?
Mel Kiper (1:49 PM)
Casey is an ILB. He projects not nearly as high as Clay. Clay was a first round pick. Casey's not nearly as high and I think he's a Day 3 guy. He'll be helped by the fact that this is a very mediocre ILB group.
Carl (Toledo, OH) [via mobile]
Can you see Sanzenbacher fitting in on an NFL roster?
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
I think he can fit in as a complimentary piece. He's a clutch kid. Hard worker. Never drops a droppable ball. If he gets his hands on it, mark it down as a catch. He's one of those 5-6 round guys, depending on his workouts.
I like your assessment of taking Ryan Mallet off of the Big Board; he makes way to many mistakes late in the game and can't move well to escape pressure. Can he help himself back into the first round and maybe to the Top 15 over the next few months?
Mel Kiper (1:52 PM)
I think he's probably going to end up a second round pick. The concerns are there about the meltdowns late in the game. The long stride. Sloppy mechanics. Poor decision making in several games with the interceptions that he threw. The intangibles need to be checked out. The thing he does bring is great size and a phenomenal arm. He makes several "wow" throws in every game. When you get to the second round, that's worth looking at. He had a lot of experience in the SEC, so he's battle-tested.
How would you rate the overall quality of this year's draft? It seems that there are so many positions that are much weaker than in past years.
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
It's just a different kind of draft. When you look at the top of the draft, we've been seeing those OTs in the top 10. We don't have those this year. We don't have a top 10 RB. We don't have a franchise caliber QB, no can't miss guys. You don't have a big time safety. What you do have is a lot of DL. I have 4 DL in my top 7 overall. I think the DL will dominate the first round. You will probably end up having 2-3 QBs in the first round. This is the year of the DL.
how do you see the bears first and second round picks playing out?
Mel Kiper (1:56 PM)
I think right now, they need OL help, DT, CB and OLB. I could see them looking at an OL in the first round. A guy like Mike Pouncey. A CB, maybe a DL, but probably OL and CB. If they go CB in the first, then maybe OL Danny Watkins in the second.
Do you have higher grades on Peterson and Prince than you did on Haden last year? What did you think about Hadens rookie year?
Mel Kiper (1:57 PM)
Peterson will have a slightly higher grade and Amukamara will have a grade in the same area. Peterson's return skills give a little boost to his grade.
Who will be the surprise drop out of the top 10?
Mel Kiper (1:59 PM)
The QBs will be volatile. They will be up and down. Gabbert and Newton will be moved. The one that ends up the first QB taken will be pretty high and the other one might drop a bit. Newton is gaining momentum. His workout tomorrow, if it goes the way it should, then he gains even more buzz tomorrow. I'm getting more positive commentary on Newton. Marcell Dareus, we'll have to see where he ends up. There is some mixed opinion on him.
Mel Kiper (2:00 PM)
Thanks for the questions. The second first round projection of the year will be out next Wednesday. We'll be back next Wednesday to chat!