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. On Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon ET, Kiper co-hosts "Dari and Mel" with Dari Nowkhah. He also appears on ESPN Radio's College GameDay as well as SportsCenter and on ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join Kiper Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (1:00 PM)
We've got Mel!
Michael-J (Belleville, MI)
Based purely on talent, who is the better corner Prince Amukamara or Jimmy Smith?
Mel Kiper (1:04 PM)
I think Amukamara. He was a solid, reliable, consistent player. And so was Smith. Everyone raves about Smith's workout. He was 6-2, 211, 4.42, 24 reps, 36 veritcal. But Amukamara was 6-0, 206, 4.38, 38 vertical, 15 reps. You lose a couple of inches, but Amukamara was a bit faster and a bit more athletic. You factor in all of the intangible issues. Amukamara has strong intangibles and that's why he gets the edge.
Is there any team that you are very confident in selecting a particular player?
Mel Kiper (1:05 PM)
It's hard, because it's a dominoe effect. If you're unsure about a couple of teams, a team that you feel good about could change. The teams that I feel most confident right now, I like Prince Amukamara to Dallas at 9, Jones to Washington at 10, Tyron Smith to Detroit at 13, Mike Pouncey to the Giants at 19, Justin Houston to Tampa at 20. Those are the ones that I feel good about and jump out. Cameron Jordan to San Diego.
With the recent change of moving kickoffs up 5 yards in the NFL what impact will that have on the value of kick returners such as Niles Paul?
Mel Kiper (1:07 PM)
There are a number of guys available in this draft that are good return men. Randall Cobb. Titus Young. Jeremy Kerley. Cecil Shorts. Patrick Peterson.
With the pro days, which 5 prospects have come "off-the-radar" to "on-the-radar" and figure to get drafted?
Mel Kiper (1:09 PM)
Not really guys that make the jump. Pro days for 95% of guys are a home run. I don't know how you can't do well at a pro day. If you don't nail it, you have some issues. They're a blue print for success. You always have better 40s run at pro days. Unless it's a kid who did not work out at the combine, then fine. I try not to put too much stock into pro days.
Michael (Buffalo )
Hey Mel should the Bills consider drafting Blaine Gabbert at number 3 as a franchise quarterback? My view is that they won't be this bad next year so they should pull the trigger on a potential franchise QB while they can. Whats your opinion?
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
You could certainly make that argument. They have to decide if they take Gabbert or Newton. Neither one is ready for the NFL. They'll have to sit and watch for a year. And that would be a good situation behind Ryan Fitzpatrick. He's a solid QB. Or they could say they're happy with Fitzpatrick and they could take Dareus at DE. Or Von Miller at OLB. They could go Patrick Peterson if they want. There are other ways to go other than QB.
Mel Kiper (1:12 PM)
That's a situation where you also have to evaluate Fitzpatrick. He's a gambler and will take chances going into traffic. But he was a solid QB last year. If you get your team to a playoff level personnel wise, are you comfortable with him at QB? Same thing with the Panthers and Clausen. And Denver. Cleveland. Miami. All of these teams have to make decisions on their QB position. And this year, there is no QB who is a consensus that should be No. 1 or 2 overall.
Who do you have the Cowboys taking at 9 and why?
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska. The big needs for them are CB and OT. They could also go Tyron Smith at OT from USC. Those are their two biggest needs by far.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
For how much praise people heap on the New England Patriots for their draft strategy the are the same front office that traded back twice with the Baltimore Ravens and Green Bay Packers in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. The Patriots lost out on two potential franchise players in Michael Oher and Clay Matthews. For those two decisions alone the Patriots and other teams might need to re-think the perils of trading back in the draft right?
Mel Kiper (1:16 PM)
Nothing's perfect. You can always do revisionist history. There is no philosophy that is 100% flawless. There are times when you'll miss out. The Ravens last year traded down and out of the first round. They ended up losing themselves Rob Gronkowski, the TE that went to New England. He went 1 pick ahead of the Ravens and TE was a need area for them. They ended up drafting two TEs after him. Nothing's perfect. The Ravens are an outstanding drafting team. No philosophy is 100% flawless. It won't work every time. There are a lot of players that you miss out on by trading back.
Mel Kiper (1:16 PM)
If you say that you've never made a blatant player evaluation, then you're not being honest.
Do you think Brandon Harris is worthy of a first round pick? Where do you have him ranked among other corners?
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
Border line first round pick. He's right now the sixth CB on my board. He did not have the year I expected him to have. He's a talented kid. A lot of ability. He had an oustanding sophomore year. This year, I thought, was not his best performance. Does he have first round ability? Yes. He's 5-9, so he lacks ideal height, but he ran a fast 40. Potentially a solid CB. Elite? No, but solid. You could make a case for him going to Pittsburgh at 31. But outside of that, he's a very border line first round pick.
Mel, Do you see B. Ijalana as a OT or OG and would he be a good fit for the Steelers?
Mel Kiper (1:20 PM)
He would. He's probably now more of a second round pick. His stock has dropped just a bit. He's only 6-3.5. There aren't a lot of 6-3.5 tackles in the league. When you look at him, the thing that helps him, he has very long arms. That will be a factor that works on his behalf.
Dave (Football Land)
Are there any genuine locks in this years draft like a bradford or a suh?
Mel Kiper (1:21 PM)
Nobody's a lock. Think about last year, Bradford had a shoulder concern and there were a lot of people that had McCoy over Suh. People that didn't think Suh was a good pass rusher and he turned out to be a very good pass rusher. I personally had concerns about Bradford's shoulders, which turned out to be a non-factor. I, luckily, had Suh over McCoy. I was right on Suh and wrong on Bradford.
Gil (Wichita, KS)
If Green is available for the Browns at #6, is there another player the Browns would take over him? It seems with Green, you are helping McCoy as the QB and the running game and existing receivers.
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
I think that's the way to go. It's tempting to take a DL. They're a 4-3 defense, so you'd be tempted to take Nick Fairley. Take a Bowers. Quinn. Green would give them a major leauge weapon. Their No. 1 need is WR and No. 2 is DL. Only Cleveland can answer the question as to which is more important.
Dillon Mikan (Sterling IL)
How do you think Delawares Pat Devlar will pan out in the NFL?
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
Devlin's stock has dropped since the end of the year. He hasn't maintained that 3-4 round stock that I thought was possible. He's the kind of guy, with good arm strength, but his stock has dropped a bit. He's lost a bit of momentum. He's a Day 3 guy and is getting lost in the shuffle a little bit. Ponder, Stanzi, McElroy, Kapernick have all moved ahead of him. McElroy is very hot right now. He played in that pro offense at Alabama. In his whole high school and college career, he only lost a few games. But Devlin is probably a 5-7 round guy now. Wouldn't shock me if he went undrafted.
Eagles tend to either move up or back in the draft. They need Dl or CB help. From 24, who realtically would be a realistic target for them?
Mel Kiper (1:26 PM)
First of all, if they wanted to move up a little bit, they could look at Wilkerson from Temple. If they stay where they are, they will look at Gabe Carimi. If they want to move up a lot, they could look at Prince Amukamara. But Carimi would make a lot of sense if they stay put.
John(NJ) [via mobile]
Mel, as a Giants fan I know our 2 biggest weaknesses are our aging lineman and lack of playmaking from our linebackers. If the Gmen go o-line in the first, do either martez wilson or bruce carter fall to them in the second? And how about fellow UNC 'backer Quan Sturdivant? Where does he project?
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
Wilson, I think would be gone. Carter's stock has dropped. Sturdivant has moved up a little. He has some versatility. He can help you with MLB and OLB. From where Carter was to where he is now, he's not as highly regarded. Carter is a third round guy, as is Sturdivant. Wilson is hot right now. He had a great workout. He had an excellent season. I wouldn't be shocked if he had his named called in the very early portion of Round 2.
Do you think that the Bears will getting value at OL or DL at 29? Who do you think will really be there that can play left tackle?
Mel Kiper (1:29 PM)
If Nate Solder is there, they're getting value. Derek Sherrod would be a nice pick. They would make sense at that point.
R Helu had an impressive combine and averaged over 6 yds a carry at Neb...do you see him as a solid 3rd pick and poss a feature back?
Mel Kiper (1:32 PM)
RB's always drop further than they should. Of the top four need areas on each team, there are only three teams that even have RB as a need area. New England, Cincinnati, Miami, maybe Green Bay. RBs will drop. Some very good ones will drop. Blount last year, I had him as a third round pick and he went undrafted. Priest Holmes went undrafted coming out of college. In the case of Helu, he had great numbers at the combine. He was 5-11, ran a good 40. The thing you like about him is his production increased in each of the last three years. He's a hard-nosed, substance-over-style RB. He's not flashy or elusive, but he runs with a lot of conviction. I think he could be a 4-5 round guy, but keep in mind that RB's drop.
who do you think 49ers are leaning towards as of today?
Mel Kiper (1:34 PM)
I think their big need areas are they need to figure out what they're doing at QB, they need a QB somewhere in the first few rounds, CB, DE/OLB. I would say for them, Patrick Peterson makes some sense at CB. And then think about QB in the second round, maybe Andy Dalton.
Chris (Marietta, Ga)
Why has Greg Romeus stock dropped so much? What happened? He was considered a 1st rounder just last year.
Mel Kiper (1:35 PM)
No, he was a guy who had potential to be a guy that people looked at. The big thing for him would be coming back from the injury. He's the kind of guy that there were some times that he didn't finish. That closing burst was an issue at times. He has the size. Long arms. 6-5, 265, but he's coming off the injury list. He's a guy that you could see going in that early Day 3, or late Day 2.
How many NFL teams are interested in taking Mallett in the 1st round?
Mel Kiper (1:36 PM)
He's a borderline first. He'll interest certain teams because he's a drop back, big arm and he can make some throws. He's an old Oakland Raider QB. He's the kind of guy that will only interest certain teams. I think he ends up 2nd round.
Mel Kiper (1:37 PM)
He reminds me of Daryle Lamonica, the old Oakland Raider QB.
There seems to be little hype around Cam Jordan. Do you think he is worthy of a top ten selection? Who would you compare him to in the pros?
Mel Kiper (1:39 PM)
I don't think it's hype. It's real. He had an excellent year at Cal. He played well at the Senior Bowl. He played well with the pads on. I have him at 18 to San Diego. They need a 3-4 DE and he's an ideal player for that situation. He can move around. He could get some looks from some teams higher. He's 15 on my Big Board.
Todd(PA) [via mobile]
If Fairley starts dropping do you see enough value in a 3-4 end for the Boys to trade up to get him?
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
I'd take him if I were a 4-3 team. He's not a power guy. He beats you with quickness. He's a 4-3 DT. He has great quickness, upfield explosion. He's incredibly quick. The teams that he could look good with is Denver, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Tennessee.
Mel, once a draft is over, do you go back and compare how your mock draft compared to the actual draft? How do you assess how well you did?
Mel Kiper (1:43 PM)
I always do. I do it every year. I did it for last year. I always try to go with the draft report, the one that goes to press on April 1. Last year's book turned out to be pretty good. I had 27 of the 32 players that went in the first round. I had 8 direct hits on team to player. The guys that went in the first that I didn't have, I had them as early second rounders. You always look at how you did. The big one that I had wrong was Jimmy Clausen who I had early in the first and he went in second. You always look back on that.
Mel Kiper (1:45 PM)
What you find is your projection you do April 1 is just as accurate as the projection you do the day before the draft.
Mel, who do you see the Dolphins taking at 15, or are they trading down
Mel Kiper (1:46 PM)
I think the Dolphins will look at a couple of things. They could be a team that trades down. They could look at Mark Ingram, and they could get him a couple of picks later. They could also look at Mike Pouncey.
Richard (Greensboro, NC)
What do you think about Denver looking at all the QBs? Staff isn't happy with Tebow's progress or is it a smokescreen to up the value and hope someone wants to trade from 5-10 up to 2?
Mel Kiper (1:48 PM)
I'd be surprised if they pick a QB. They have 3 right now and they're all different. Tebow is an inherited guy and that's always dangerous. Josh McDaniels drafted him and I thought he was in the minority of people that thought he was a first rounder. We saw what we thought we'd see from him. He's tough as nails, he runs, but will he be the passer you want him to be? They have to assess that. But I would be surprised if they take a QB. The QBs that are coming in this year from the draft aren't ready anyway. I would think they draft a defensive player.
Mel, Do you see Julio Jones falling to the Rams and if not who do you see them landing in the 1st?
Mel Kiper (1:49 PM)
The Rams have to hope that he's there. You have to hope that he falls to 14. I could see him at 10 to Washington or to Houston. Those are two teams that select before them that could take him. He had some drops at Alabama. I like him. He could be there at 14. It's possible.
chris sweeney plant city, fl [via mobile]
After the big turn around in tampa what can they do in the draft to take another step foward?
Mel Kiper (1:51 PM)
They went with McCoy and Pryce last year. They helped their WR position last year. I would think that they need a pass rushing DE now. A Justin Houston, Ryan Kerrigan. If they wanted, they could trade up to get Quinn from UNC. CB, I don't see a CB at 20 unless they move up to get Amukamara. In the first round, I would put DE at the top of the list.
Chad (Las Vegas)
The Saints picked up Rogers in FA. Is that enough to move them away from DL in rd 1 onto LB or OL?
Mel Kiper (1:52 PM)
Wilkerson is a different style of player, so I would say he's still in the mix. But they need LB help. They got very few players from their LBs. You could look at Ayers. OT. DL. Those are the areas.
Haile (Durham NC)
Is there a shot that Bowers gets taken 1st overall or is Carolina looking for QB?
Mel Kiper (1:53 PM)
Bowers has been pushed back because he's coming off the knee injury. He's a possibility in the top 8. I don't think he gets past Tennessee at 8. I don't think he's a possibility for the 1, 2, 3 spot like he looked like earlier in the year.
What are the chances that Cincinnati picks up a quarterback in the draft, and who do you think would fit there.
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
I think there's a chance. They have to be aware. They know what Carson Palmer is saying. They see him being very steadfast in retiring or getting moved somewhere else. Arizona, Carolina, San Francisco, Tennessee are all teams that need QBs. Washington, Minnesota. There are a lot of possibilities. I would think Cincinnati has to think about Newton or Gabbert in the first or look for someone in the second round. They're a team that could look WR. DE. OLB. I think they go offense.
Blake (South Carolina)
Mel what safeties to do see being a real steal in the late rounds?
Mel Kiper (1:56 PM)
Eric Hagg, Nebraska; Shiloh Keo, Idaho; Andrew Rich, BYU; Erik Stoll, Montana; Joe Lefeged, Rutgers.
If you had to say as of now, where does Kaepernick go?
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
I would say third round. Maybe late second, but I would say third round. I have questions about his pure passing skills. I thought he was a great college QB. Great, great college QB. But the delivery, mechanics. He has a lot of skills. Great speed. Competitive. Great arm. There is a lot to like, but I have issue with the mechanics.
What happens with the 49ers if Peterson, Gabbert, and Miller are gone at 7? Do they possibly take Green if available?
Mel Kiper (1:59 PM)
I think Miller and Gabbert will be. There's a chance that Peterson will be too. You could go with Amukamara. You could also look at Robert Quinn. Those would be the guys.
Mel Kiper (2:00 PM)
We covered a lot of ground. We'll be doing it again next Wednesday. I appreciate all of the questions. Pro days are ongoing, like I said I think they're overrated, but they're ongoing. We'll talk again next week.