Chat with Mel Kiper
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, 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 Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Hello Mel! So this Broncos/Jags point spread is truly remarkable. And based on performance, understandable. But can't you see Denver taking their foot off the gas in the third quarter if they're up by three touchdowns? I'm admittedly fascinated, but for all the wrong reasons.
Mel Kiper (2:08 PM)
They're coming off of a draining game against the Cowboys. Two minutes to go, Tony Romo throws the pick and they go on to win. They have this game this week and then they're at Indy the following week. How do you bring your A game? This is a week you're thankful you have Jacksonville. This is a sandwich game scenario, but they could bring their C game and win. You hope to get away from it injury free. Right now they're a 27.5 point favorite. There are some big favorites this week. Seattle is almost a 2 TD favorite. It's unheard of to have a non-expansion team be a four TD favorite. But it's a perfect storm. Jacksonville is horrible. And Denver is running teams off the field.
Keith (Seattle, WA)
Has Clowney's lack of production on the field, or actions off the field, had more of a negative impact on his draft stock in the eyes of front office executives?
Mel Kiper (2:09 PM)
No. It really hasn't impacted him dramatically. You would have loved to see him repeat what he did last year and the year before. But if he doesn't go No. 1, he'll go in the top 3. The only reason he doesn't go one is if the team picking first has a QB.
Ben [via mobile]
Who are your top five safeties right now and how high do you see them going?
Mel Kiper (2:10 PM)
Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama. He's suspended right now. Exum, VT, hasn't played yet due to an injury coming into the year. Reynolds, Stanford; Dion Bailey, USC; Nickoe Whitley, Mississippi State.
DJ (Roanoke, VA)
Do you think LSU is a legitimate contender to win the BCS National Championship this year and what adjustments do they need to make to enhance their defense?
Mel Kiper (2:13 PM)
They had 8 players drafted off the defense. You can't expect young players to step in and get the job done at that level. You know their defense would step back. Their offense has stepped up. Mettenberger has made that offense good. They almost pulled one out against Georgia. They should be able to beat Florida this week. Their biggest game is against Alabama and then the next game against A-M. Their season comes down to those two games. But are they a legit top 5 team? Yeah, sure. They're three points away from being undefeated.
Tim Williams (Bellevue, WA)
Washington Vs. Oregon. What is your take on these two teams? What in your opinion does Washington have to do to pull of the upset, and do you think they can do it? Also with Sankey being a complete package in the backfield what does Washington and Sankey need to do to compete for a Heisman?
Mel Kiper (2:15 PM)
Oregon has been on a path of cruise control up until this point, because they've had a very manageable and easy schedule. They've been building their personnel and getting the freshmen some play. Now they play at Washington, which is their toughest test by far. It will be tough in that stadium with a lot of crowd noise. Washington is coming off a brutally tough loss at Stanford. They played well last week. I wonder if they can bring their A game in back to back weeks. Oregon comes into this game a 14 point favorite. If Oregon beats them by more than the experts think, that's a statement right there.
Mel Kiper (2:15 PM)
If Oregon can get past this hurdle, they have UCLA and Stanford are the two huge games on the horizon.
B Mand (Sarasota, FL)
What are your thoughts on Telvin Smith of FSU?
Mel Kiper (2:16 PM)
He's one of the best athletes of their LBs. Super quick. Loves to play. Very active. Very alert. He has a future in the NFL as a weakside LB.
Who have been the most impressive freshmen so faR?
Mel Kiper (2:19 PM)
I'll rank them 1-10 for you. Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida. Then, Myles Jack, LB, UCLA; A'Shawn Robinson, DE, Alabama; Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State; Jaylon Smith, OLB, Notre Dame; Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State; Brandon Facyson, CB, VT; Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss; Robert Nkemdiche, DE, Ole Miss; Tyler Boyd, WR, Pitt.
Jeff (Tampa, FL)
Do you think Marcus Mariota can develop enough as a passer to become an NFL signal caller?
Mel Kiper (2:20 PM)
Yeah. I'd like to see his completion percentage higher. He has an outstanding TD-INT ratio. He stays away from the mistakes in the passing game. But out in Oregon, you are dealing with the inclement weather. The evaluation games from Mariota are still coming. If he stays away from mistakes, then, yeah, he'll be a worthy first round draft pick.
I know oyu thought the Vikings reached on Ponder. In your opinion, Is Josh Freeman better than Christian Ponder and Matt Cassell?
Mel Kiper (2:22 PM)
No. I think you may have three, but do you even have one? I think they're grab-bagging it. They brought in Cassell to back up the young QB. That was smart. Then they brought in Freeman. They probably had a nice grade on him when he came up, but after a nice start to his career, he's slid back. But in that division, you have to have a QB. Cutler, Rodgers and Stafford, they're the worst team at QB in that division. I would like to see Ponder play the full season. Unfortunately, he had the injury this year. I am not ready to dismiss Ponder. I've always questionted if he could be elite, but I'd like to see him through a full season.
George (Juarez MX)
What about Scooby Wright from Arizona as a top freshman.
Mel Kiper (2:23 PM)
Yeah. Let's go 11-25.
Mel Kiper (2:25 PM)
11. Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn; 12. Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas; 13. Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson; 14. Johnny Mundt, TE, Oregon; 15. OJ Howard, TE, Alabama; 16. Kendall Fuller, CB, VT; 17. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss; 18. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State; 19. Alex Redmond, OG, UCLA; 20. Su'a Cravens, S, USC; 21. Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona; 22. Eddie Vanderdoes, DE, UCLA; 23. Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia; 24. Chris Jones, DE, Mississippi State; 25. Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin.
Do you think the Falcons woes start with offensive play calling? It seems Ryan is ALWAYS in the shot gun and they are so predicable. No commitment to running the ball either.
Mel Kiper (2:28 PM)
They don't have Steven Jackson healthy. They brought him in to be the workhorse and the featured back and he's hurt. There are some weaklinks in the OL. Right now you don't have Jones for the rest of the year. Roddy White has been banged up. The OL has been the biggest problem. Then, factor in the Jackson injury and the Jones injury and White isn't 100 percent. That all impacts Matt Ryan from scoring a lot of points. You can't expect a team that has a depleted WR corps, no running game and guys on the OL struggling, it goes beyond play calling.
I notice you don't have Jared Abrederis as a top 10 receiver in the 2014 draft. I've seen him listed as high as the 3rd receiver off the board. Where do you have him ranked?
Mel Kiper (2:29 PM)
He's close. He's in the second group after the top 10. He's in the 11-15 area. He's everything you want in a No. 2 WR. He's very competitive. Very solid. Very savvy. He got the best of Roby on Ohio State. He won't wow you over with his 40 time, but for a possession WR, you'd bring him in.
Mel Kiper (2:30 PM)
I will be updating the top 10 positional rankings on ESPN.com. It will be updated next Wednesday. It hasn't been updated since late August.
Mel Kiper (2:30 PM)
The top 25 Big Board gets updated every Wednesday.
Do you think Nick Foles takes over soon as the Eagles QB? and does Barkley ever see any game action?
Mel Kiper (2:31 PM)
No, I don't think so. Vick gives you the extra dimension with his running ability. What he does is hold the ball too long and gives away turnovers. He takes hits and gets injured. Foles, already, is a proven entity. He has a big arm. He's a guy they can win with. But, right now, who's better, it's Vick. I think he causes more problems for defenses.
Dime Store (Needles CA)
Where would you rank Aqib Talib in your defensive player of the year race so far? It seems NE defense is totally different with him in there.
Mel Kiper (2:33 PM)
He's a shut down CB. He's a lock down CB. He's kind of become Revis Island. There have only been a few shut down CBs recently. Nnamdi Asamough for a couple of years and Revis with the Jets. We've only had one or two in the NFL at one time. Now, you factor in Talib and he's in that category. In this era of the pass happy NFL, it's hard to have those kinds of guys. He's taken the elite receiver on the other team and shut him down. He's one of the best defensive players in the league right now.
It's really sad what happened to Locker. He was starting to really make strides. Do you think he can be a long-term franchise QB?
Mel Kiper (2:35 PM)
I think if his accuracy continues to improve. That was the biggest question. He's still a little hit or miss. But he's a tough kid. He has the arm strength. He has the athletic ability. His accuracy will determine his fate as a starting QB in the NFL.
John (Austin) [via mobile]
Mel, How does Stanley Jean-Baptiste from Nebraska profile? He's absolutely huge for a CB (6'3", 220) and has played really well, but he doesn't have much of a track record prior to this season. Thanks
Mel Kiper (2:36 PM)
He's a former WR. He has the length that you look for. He's 6-2, about 217. He's a former receiver who turned CB. He has to improve his technique. With his skill set and now he's getting the necessary experience, there is no question that he could be a guy that gets into the 3-4 round discussion.
I think Brian Kelly is a great football coach and has won everywhere he went, including ND. Have they taken a step back as a program this year or is the loss of Golson, Teo, etc., plus very high expectations the cause for their struggles thus far?
Mel Kiper (2:39 PM)
It's not just "only" those are huge losses. Golson was a heckuva QB last year. He's a much more athletic QB than Rees. Rees hasn't been the passer they need him to be. He's been inaccurate. Then you factor in the defense that lost Lewis-Moore, one of their biggest factors on the line, Te'o, the captain of the defense moved on. You expected them to be an 8-4 team, maybe 9-3 was possible. Looking at their record now, they're 4-2. They have to beat USC. If they can beat USC at home, which I think they can, they still have a shot a 9-3.
What have you thought of Logan Thomas this year? Is his stock going up or down? In which round is he drafted?
Mel Kiper (2:41 PM)
He's had some moments, where you see the skill set and the ability and potential he has. He's flashed the NFL ability. He's just inconsistent. He has to get the completion percentage way up. Right now, he's still in the late round category. He's made some improvements, but it hasn't been as dramatic as it needed to be. This team has found a way, to its credit, to still have a good year. They're 5-1 now.
Mel Kiper (2:43 PM)
The big thing is without Exum, an outstanding DB coming off an injury and hasn't played this year, the two freshmen CBs, Fuller and Facyson have really helped the defense.
Michael [via mobile]
Green Bay at Baltimore this weekend. Both teams need a win. Who has the edge?
Mel Kiper (2:44 PM)
The Ravens got their big win. You would have been saying this was a desperation game if they hadn't beaten the Dolphins. You don't want to be 2-3 coming home to play Green Bay, needing a win to get to .500. The Packers have some injuries. Clay Matthews was a big loss. If they had him, that would be a different dynamic to the game. Matthews may have had three or four sacks. But without him, that helps out the Ravens offense dramatically.
Wade (Newark, Ohio)
Mel, how do you grade Carlos Hyde from OSU in this upcoming NFL draft next spring? Thanks
Mel Kiper (2:46 PM)
He is a violent, aggressive runner. I love Carlos Hyde. I love his running style. He's moving up the board in terms of RBs. He's probably going to be in my top 5, probably my No. 3. He runs through tacklers. He breaks more tackles than any other runner. I love his attitude and approach. He has size, power, he's quicker than most think. If he keeps playing like this, that will help him enormously in the draft.
Mel Kiper (2:46 PM)
When the season began, I had him at the 9th best RB, now he's moved up to 3-4. That's with missing the first 3 games due to suspension.
Mel, What is the future for Matt Schaub at this point?? I still believe he can be a successful NFL QB, but maybe not in Houston. Seems to me like he might need a change of scenery and get a fresh start.
Mel Kiper (2:48 PM)
I don't know about a fresh start, this is his team. They brought him in from Atlanta to be the team's QB. The team is underachieving. They're 2-3 right now and fortunate to be in that position. The pick-6's you can't keep having. It's hard to recover from that. I'm surprised they didn't make a change. I thought they would have gone to Yates. They have St. Louis this week. Houston is a 7-point favorite. That's a game you have to win. Then KC and then a bye week. In the next couple of weeks will be an assessment period for Schaub.
Mel Kiper (2:49 PM)
They have to win this week. They have to get to 3-3 going into that game with KC.
Can Josh Gordon be a Pro Bowler? He is the best Browns Receiver I have seen in a long time, and I have been a Browns fan since the 70s.
Mel Kiper (2:50 PM)
He is a talented kid. He's gifted. He has a skill set that should allow him to be a great player in the NFL. What he needs to do is manage everything off the field. If he can maximize his ability, he can be a great player in the NFL. But will he have the focus? The discipline? The work ethic? All of the intangibles that will help him maximize his ability?
Paul (Placerville, CA)
Will Marqise Lee go in the first round?
Mel Kiper (2:51 PM)
Yeah, I do. This has been an injury plagued year for him. They have had major QB issues. It's been a disappointing year all around. But that doesn't take away from what he did with Matt Barkley at QB. He was better than Robert Woods and he was a second round pick. I think he will go in the middle of the first round.
DJ (Roanoke, VA)
Hi Mel, what do you think of the Giants season so far and what changes do you think they need to make next offseason?
Mel Kiper (2:53 PM)
The biggest disappointment in the NFL are the Giants. I thought they could be a Super Bowl contender. I thought they could win the division. The injuries on the OL have killed them. And they weren't that good to begin with. They haven't had consistency from their receiving entities. Their RB situation has been awful. Their DL can't get a pass rush. They need to get faster on the back end. Right now, they look like a 3-13 team. Maybe 4-12 tops. I think they'll bottom out.
Mel Kiper (2:54 PM)
Everybody has down years. Some injuries have helped. Some young players they thought would be stars, aren't. The OL hasn't played the way they thought it would. The RB position has been a disaster. The pass rush, the team's staple, has been nonexistent.
Lions Fan (MI)
Is KC as good as their record indicates? I mean there's no signature wins yet and Alex Smith doesn't exactly light it up out there.
Mel Kiper (2:57 PM)
Yeah, they're one of those teams that you'll keep picking against and they'll keep beating you. They're one of those teams that you look at and they have a really good regular season record and then they're the first team out. Alex Smith is not elite. Jamal Charles carries the team. The pass rush carries the defense. Poe, Hali, etc. have been outstanding. They're making plays on special teams. They're making plays. They're finding ways to win games. I think they can win 10 games. The games that will determine how we view this team are: Houston at home, at Denver Nov. 17, San Diego at home, Denver. Their final seven games are tough after the bye week. And this game against Oakland this week will be tough.
You have Hundley has your 2 QB. How likely is his chances of coming out this year and what will he need to be the most successful on the next level? A certain system or will he fit into any?
Mel Kiper (2:58 PM)
I don't know. He's a third-year sophomore. He's had some great moments and some only OK moments. I want to see him against Stanford on the road on Oct. 19 and at Oregon Oct. 26. Those will be good evaluation games.
Mel Kiper (2:59 PM)
Thanks for all of the questions. We'll be back next week. And remember, next Wednesday, I'll have a new top 25 Big Board, but I'll also have the top 10 of each position with all draft eligible players. The first time it's been updated since August. And, today, just going up is the top 25 NFL Rookie Big Board.