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!
Jeremy (Sterling, VA)
Hey Mel, if you were the Vikings how deeply do you rebuild this offseason? Just how bad is it? Thanks!
Mel Kiper (2:05 PM)
The Vikings have to figure out the QB position, first and foremost. And getting Patterson up to speed at WR. He's been returning kicks, but needs to get up to speed at WR. I'm always thinking along the lines of in the division with the QBs of Rodgers, Stafford and Cutler, you're a distant fourth. You need to catch up at QB. You need to figure that out first. Then the WRs. The defensive side looks good. Ponder is back starting, which I like. I think he needs more time to show how he can play.
Dylan P (Vacaville CA)
Kipaa! I was wrong with both of my Nat'l Championship teams (LSU- Louisville)...but did pick Baylor as my sleeper, chances they make it? Maybe win it?
Mel Kiper (2:07 PM)
Baylor, right now, hasn't played anybody to make a confident assessment. They haven't played anybody of consequence. They have to play somebody first. They play Oklahoma. Texas Tech. Oklahoma State. Texas. There are a few more challenging opponents. Until they've played those games, I'm not ready to say they're a national championship caliber team. That doesn't mean they're not good enough, they just haven't had a defining moment yet.
Mel Kiper (2:08 PM)
Last year, everyone was raving about West Virginia. They were putting up unbelievable numbers. After 5 games, they started to hit the skids and losing games. They just didn't finish the way everyone thought. West Virginia put up 70 against Baylor last year.
Bert (St. Paul, MN)
What was the take on Kellen Clemens coming out of college? As a 2nd round pick, he obviously looked better at the time.
Mel Kiper (2:10 PM)
He was OK. He was the fifth highest rated QB that year in a group that wasn't that deep. My final comment was "He gained some late momentum in the draft process, re-establishing himself as a late first day possibility. I'm not quite as high on Clemens as some observers seem to be. But you have to give him credit to the improvement shown in 2005 prior to the injury." I projected him in the mock draft to be a second round pick.
Geoff (Easton, PA)
Mel... Ohio State struggled at home last week against Iowa... how concerned should they be playing against a Penn State team looking to play spoiler??
Mel Kiper (2:12 PM)
Penn State is a very well coached, disciplined football team. Their front seven has some good players. If you can protect your QB, you can do some damage against their secondary. You need to contain Robinson. Hackenberg throws the ball well. That's a good pass catching tandem. Roby needs to step up. He needs to do the job against Robinson.
Jared (San Diego)
Where does Ohio St. LB Ryan Shazier fit in the Big Board right now?
Mel Kiper (2:13 PM)
Right now, he's No. 22 on the Big Board. He is the fourth highest rated OLB.
Tom (Jax, FL)
How has Marquis Lee's draft stock gone so far this year? He was the unanimous best WR going into this year and a top 10 pick? Where do you see him in relation to the other receivers? How many go in the 1rst round?
Mel Kiper (2:14 PM)
It hasn't dropped, it's just that other players have moved up. He's had injuries and subpar QB play. He's 13 on the Big Board. Some of the kids ranked ahead of him may not come out. Right now, he's the No. 1 WR on the Big Board.
Paul (Phoenix, AZ)
Where do you see Taylor Lewan going tin the next draft? Is he still a top 3 LT?
Mel Kiper (2:15 PM)
He is No. 11 on the Big Board. He is the second highest rated OT. He has a chance to be a top 10 pick, because he's a LT with a lot of ability.
Any players on Michigan State's #1 ranked defense going to go in the draft outside of Dennard and Max Bullough?
Mel Kiper (2:17 PM)
Denicos Allen, an OLB who projects to safety in the NFL. Isaiah Lewis, safety. Tyler Hoover, senior, DT. Their best prospect could be third-year sophomore DE, Shilique Calhoun.
Mel Kiper (2:18 PM)
I think Dennard is very underrated at CB. I would look at him no later than the second round.
Devin Gardner, NFL QB or Not?
Mel Kiper (2:19 PM)
It depends on how he keeps evolving. He has had some great games and some subpar games with turnovers. He had shown some ability at WR. He has the ability to play WR in the NFL. He's only a junior. You have to watch his development at QB. He has the ability, talent and size to maybe be a WR in the NFL. We'll have to watch him closely.
Squall (Balamb Garden)
A little future projection fill-in-the blank: [X] quarterbacks are taken in the first round of the 2014 draft, and [Y] of them are starting NFL quarterbacks in 2016 (their third year pro)?
Mel Kiper (2:20 PM)
Well, all QBs have to start in the first few years of their careers now. If you're drafted, you want them to play. Mariota, Bridgewater, Manziel those would be the three that jump out. Brett Hundley struggled last week in a loss to Stanford. We'll have to see if he stays or comes out. Bryce Petty, fourth-year junior at Baylor. He's only a one-year starter. He has first round ability. Zach Mettenberger, LSU, struggled last week, but he could get some first round consideration. Right now, I would say three, maybe four in the first round.
Mel, Where would you rank Sean Mannion if he came out after this season?
Mel Kiper (2:22 PM)
He has had a phenomenal year. Probably one of the most improved players in the country. Mike Riley is a great coach. Mannion is a fourth year junior. Pro style QB. Drop back, pocket passer. Smart kid. I think, with another year, he could be a QB that has a chance to be an early draft pick. If he had two great years back to back, that would really help him.
Mel, is Clowney still a top 5 pick no matter what happens the rest of the season? I think he can be a Demarcus Ware type, but am worried he might have some JPP in him (not motivated to play every down).
Mel Kiper (2:23 PM)
Definitely. There is no question. I think, at worst, he's the first or second pick. Maybe third. Top five definitely.
Mel Kiper (2:23 PM)
Last week, he started to pin his ears back and fire off the ball. You saw glimpses of how he played last year. He's ready to turn the corner and play his best football.
Keith (Seattle, WA)
Have the off the field problems of Colt Lyerla dropped him to the later rounds, if he's drafted at all?
Mel Kiper (2:24 PM)
He's not out of the draft. We'll have to keep our eyes on all of the prospects. I thought, had he played this year, he could be a second round pick. It's a long time between now and early May. It's a shame the way this has all gone down this year.
Hi Mel, Who would you compare Eric Ebron to in other drafts? Seems like he is off the Charts.
Mel Kiper (2:26 PM)
We saw guys like Jermaine Gresham go in the first round. We saw TEs who didn't go in the first round have great impacts. Where Ebron could go, if it falls right, he could be a top 15 pick. TEs are so valuable now. They create so many matchup advantages. They're back en vogue. Basically, they're glorified WRs. Ebron's showed more ball control. He can block.
Craig (Braintree, MA)
Any top 25 upsets this weekend?
Mel Kiper (2:27 PM)
There are teams that have to bring their A game. Clemson against Maryland. Tennessee is an improving team against Alabama, even though they're a 4 TD favorite. Missouri is favored over South Carolina.
Why isn't the media including AJ McCarron as a serious Hesiman candidate?
Mel Kiper (2:29 PM)
People will argue that it's not a career achievement award. They look at the numbers and others are putting up "wow" numbers. AJ is not doing that. They haven't put up a statement win, other than the A-M scare. It's a case where people say that he benefits from the talent around him. I think he's talented. All he does is win. He's shown at Alabama that he can come through in a clutch drive. I put a lot of stock in that. He's a clutch QB. You can't underestimate that. He has the size. He has a good enough arm. Good awareness. He won't beat a defense with his legs, but he can pick up a first down. In the second round area, I would definitely look at him.
Mel Kiper (2:30 PM)
Critics of McCarron will call him a right handed Matt Leinart. Both guys had successful college careers. But I think he'll be better than that. He has good leadership. I think he has more passion for the game than a lot of guys.
Mel, what do you think of Geno Smith so far?
Mel Kiper (2:31 PM)
He's been in consistent, but he's won. They've already got a 4-3 record and that's as many wins I thought they'd have all year. He's brought them back in games, which is impressive. He doesn't have a great supporting cast around him. He's exceeded expectations. He's been fortunate. He was fortunate to beat the Bucs and to beat the Patriots. If it wasn't for those two games, they'd be 2-5 instead of 4-3. It's a slim difference between the two.
Mel Kiper (2:32 PM)
He's been a good teammate. There have been no questions about his leadership.
McCarron>McElroy? Can AJ do more things than Greg did?
Mel Kiper (2:34 PM)
Definitely. He's the best Alabama QB to come out in a while. There have been a lot of good Alabama QBs to come out. What he gives you is the ability to throw the deep ball accurately. He completes a high percentage of those passes, which people underestimate. He's worked on his footwork, his upper body strength. If you can get him in the second round, you've got yourself a good to very good starting QB. I think he could be what Andy Dalton is.
best RB in the nation, your top 5 and in what order?
Mel Kiper (2:35 PM)
If you're going top 5: 1. DeAnthony Thomas, Oregon. He's a versatile dynamo. 2. Lache Seastrunk, Baylor. 3. Melvin Gordon III, Wisconsin. 4. Bishop Sankey, Washington. 5. Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona. All of them are underclassmen. The top senior RB is Carlos Hyde, Ohio State, followed by Dri Archer, Kent State. Then, Charles Sims, West Virginia; Marion Grice, Arizona State.
Can Joseph Fauria be an every down Tight End, or is he a 2nd or 3rd TE that is a match up problem in the end zone?
Mel Kiper (2:37 PM)
I liked him a lot coming out of college. I was very surprised that he wasn't drafted. He's the nephew of Christian Fauria. He's 6-7 and has big hands. With a year in the weight room, I thought he could fill out more. He became a real red zone threat as a junior. He was mediocre as a run blocker and had to get stronger for that reason. I said "he's not necessarily a future starter in the NFL at TE, but in today's NFL where 2 or more TEs are used in a lot of formations, he'd make sense in the later rounds of the draft."
Did you get a chance to watch Matt Barkley last week? Obviously, he was thrown into a tough situations and the 3 INT's show that, but I actually came away somewhat impressed. I thought his arm strength was better than advertised and he fit the ball into some tight spaces. Clearly, if given the chance again he needs to cut down on the mistakes, but does he have a future in the NFL?
Mel Kiper (2:39 PM)
You just have to give him some time. To come off the bench cold as a rookie is hard. Foles got injured. They were down. He made some nice throws. Troy Aikman said during the game that his arm strength wasn't an issue. Overall, it wasn't awful. Coming in like that was a challenge. He'll learn and grow from that. But that's not something we've never seen before from a rookie. We'll see what he'll develop into. That's a tough position to put a rookie CB in.
If Mike Evans TAMU declared for the draft this yr what round would he go in?
Mel Kiper (2:40 PM)
We'll have to see how fast he is. How he separates is the question. He outjumps a lot of guys. He uses his physicality to get the advantage. But he's a third year sophomore. I'd like to see him come back for one more year. Depending on how his 40 time works out, he could be the third WR taken, maybe second. If he doesn't run well, he could drop a bit.
Should the Rams look for a quarterback with one of their 2 picks in the 1st round?
Mel Kiper (2:41 PM)
I think they're going to have to look at it. Bradford had the shoulder injury in college. Now the knee injury in late October. Will he be ready for camp? You don't want to go into next season waiting for him, not knowing when he'll be back. It will be a big question. Brian Hoyer in Cleveland is another question. Two unfortunate season ending injuries at QB for those two teams. They both will need to have alternative plans for QB.
From a pure talent standpoint can you compare Alabama, Florida St and Oregon?
Mel Kiper (2:45 PM)
I picked Oregon in August to win the title, because they're a lethal team. They have a lot of explosive players. They have a good OL. Oregon lost Jordan and Alonzo to the NFL. You take them off of that defense and they're still playing well. They've done a great job coaching defense. Alabama deserves to be No. 1 until someone beats them. Who is anyone to take them out of the top spot? Let's see how they do. The last two years, they've lost at home. Let's see what happens. Alabama has LSU coming up, that's like the Ravens and Steelers in the NFL. The games are always close, no matter what's going on with the teams.
Mel Kiper (2:46 PM)
As for FSU, what makes them go is Winston. I think he's fast becoming the next Andrew Luck. We'll be talking about the Winston sweepstakes next year.
Mel Kiper (2:47 PM)
And don't sleep on Ohio State. They haven't lost in a long time. Don't rest on Urban Meyer. How do you separate those four teams? That's why we desperately need a final four playoff.
What happened in the ND/USC game where the ND defense appeared to turn it on. Was it better performance or a really bad SC offense?
Mel Kiper (2:50 PM)
I think it was Tuitt having a dominant performance. He's No. 9 on the Big Board and had the best game of his career. The LBs played well, because Nix was occupying two guys and Tuitt was so dominant. The QB play at USC is not up to par. But, you have Lee watching the second half from the sidelines. USC's OL struggled mightily. The cool weather favored Notre Dame. USC had four straight drives in ND territory and I don't think they scored a point. ND shut them down.
Brandon (winston salem)
Mel what are your thoughts on Tre Boston safety at UNC?
Mel Kiper (2:51 PM)
He's got to become a little more consistent. He can handle his coverage responsibilities. He has some versatility to his game. He's a guy you look at in the middle rounds.
Tom (Jax, FL)
What guards and centers do you see taken in the first 2-3 rounds this year?
Mel Kiper (2:53 PM)
Yeah. A few names: David Yankey, C, Stanford; Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State; Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas; Hroniss Grasu, C, Oregon; Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor.
How did you rate Marcus Cooper coming into the draft. Are you surprised with his success?
Mel Kiper (2:54 PM)
Very much so. He's a former WR, turned DB. He benefitted tremendously from Ryan and Harmon coming out of that defensive backfield. He went to San Francisco, almost Mr. Irrelevant. He was cut and signed by KC. Done a great job for the Chiefs. On my Rookie Big Board on ESPN.com he's my 29th highest rated rookie. He gives them the great depth at CB that you need in the pass happy NFL.
Mel Kiper (2:55 PM)
He's been a good find. I completely missed on Cooper. The 49ers drafted him and cut him even. He should be on the all-rookie team this year.
Where does Rashad Greene rank as a pro prospect? He has been the best WR at FSU since he arrived, he consistently produces and has decent speed. I know he won't be an elite first round grade but where do you have him graded?
Mel Kiper (2:56 PM)
He is a nice player. The thing with him is, I don't know if he's coming out, he's just a junior. He was great against Clemson. He plays big. He can go in the slot or on the outside. He has deceptive speed. When he touches the ball, good things happen. He has great hands. He gets separation. Works hard to improve. I think he's an underrated junior WR that will play in the NFL and help an offense.
Mel Kiper (2:58 PM)
We have some exciting action in the NFL and college this weekend. Six NFL teams have byes. Some of the intriguing games this week, in college: Tennessee at Alabama. This is a good measuring stick to how good Alabama is. Clemson at Maryland, how does Clemson bounce back? UCLA at Oregon. UCLA's OL is depleted with injuries. Missouri vs. South Carolina. Texas at TCU. Texas is a slight underdog, that surprises me. Mack Brown can keep things going with a win. He needs to win. Penn State at Ohio State will be fun. Staford at Oregon State. OSU is a well coached team.
Mel Kiper (2:59 PM)
In the NFL, Dallas at Detroit is intriguing. Cleveland at KC, with Jason Campbell starting for the Browns. Miami at New England. Miami is at a crossroads, losing a couple of games they didn't think they'd lose. Pittsburgh at Oakland, with two storied franchises playing.
Buzzmaster (2:59 PM)
Thanks for chatting Mel!