Chat with Mel Kiper
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, NFL draft Insider 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!
Buzzmaster (1:56 PM)
Mel is here!
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do you think the Patriots take a long look at Jace Amaro or Xavier Grimble at the TE position? Grimble could be a steal in the 3rd or 4th round. Your thoughts?
Mel Kiper (1:57 PM)
I do. I think more so Amaro. Grimble has a Day 3 grade. Amaro is a first round grade. TE is their No. 1 need. If they want to be aggressive and trade up and get Ebron, they'll have to get into the top 16 for him.
Is Khalil Mack versatile enough to excel in a 4-3 defense or is he strictly an OLB in a 3-4?
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
I will tell you this, when he has his workout, he will wow everyone over. He's the most gifted physical athlete in this draft. He's 6-3, 255, he'll probably vertical 40 inches. He'll run 4.5. He has tremendous character. I have him No. 5 on the Big Board, he'll probably end up 2 or 3. I could see him going in the top 3-5 easily. After the workouts, his stock will be marching up. If you want to get evidence of how great he is, look at the Ohio State game, the first game of the year.
I've heard a lot of buzz about Jimmie Ward from NIU after the Senior Bowl. What do you think of him and what round do you think he's picked?
Mel Kiper (1:59 PM)
He's a play maker and he can cover. He's been a big play guy. He's not real big, but he fits what today's NFL wants. I think he's the 4-5 best safety and could go in the third round.
Will (snowy Florida) [via mobile]
Would you give up on Sam Bradford for any of the prospects this year? Should the rams go for yet another receiver or build up other areas?
Mel Kiper (2:01 PM)
I don't think they're giving up on him yet. They have major dollars invested in him. He was one of the last monster No. 1 pick contracts. They could look at a QB down the line a bit. You have to make him better. They desperately need an OT. Jake Matthews maybe. They need a true No. 1 WR. They need a CB or S. The No. 2 pick could be Matthews or Robinson, then at 13, maybe Mike Evans or Marqise Lee.
Mel Kiper (2:02 PM)
The other option would be at No. 2 take Sammy Watkins, then at No. 13 look at Taylor Lewan or Zack Martin.
Frank (Charlotte, NC)
Which player helped themselves the most at the Senior Bowl? Which player hurt themselves, not that you can really hurt yourself by going out and competing.
Mel Kiper (2:05 PM)
For helping the most, I would say Derek Carr, QB; Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Coastal Carolina; Morgan Moses, OT; Weston Richburg, C; Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt; Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton; Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn; Keith McGill, CB, Utah; Jimmy Garoppolo, QB; Josh Huff, WR, Oregon.
Mel Kiper (2:08 PM)
For hurt themselves the most, probably Logan Thomas, QB, VT; Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor; Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford - but he was in the DE drills and he's a OLB, so some might put him on the list; Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State was up and down.
Lee (New York)
I?ve heard it said that Kelvin Benjamin probably would have been a top-10 pick next year if he returned to FSU. If that?s the case, why doesn?t a team draft him that high this year?
Mel Kiper (2:09 PM)
Because he needed another year. He needs to work on getting himself stronger. Another year of great production with Winston. They have the best OL in college football. Outstanding WR and TE, this offense will be prolific again and Benjamin could have been a major player in it. I think he's a late first rounder.
As far as Derek Carr helping himself, does he find a home in the top 10 now?
Mel Kiper (2:11 PM)
No. He just has himself back into the late first round discussion. He didn't wow me over, but he helped himself, but he needed to because of his poor performance in the bowl game. He was the best QB there, but most of the best QBs weren't there. Five of the six top QBs weren't there. Six of the top 8. Some because of juniors and some because of injury. Of the top 10 QBs, seven weren't there. He was the only top rated QB there, so that made him look better. I'd say he's possibly in the 20-32 range.
Dee Ford made a lot of noise in the senior bowl and is climbing up draft boards. I agree he's got great explosion of the corner but I think he was winning those battles by guessing the snap count, witch he did end up getting fooled on later in the game. Do you think he'll be an impact in the NFL or is it all just senior bowl hype?
Mel Kiper (2:13 PM)
He had a really good year at Auburn. In their big win over TAMU, he was a big difference. He was a force off the edge in just about every big game they had. I would say he's now in the first round discussion. From a mid to late second rounder to a late first rounder.
How surprised would you be if in 3 years Mettenberger is the 2nd best QB from this draft? Or the best even?
Mel Kiper (2:14 PM)
Could be. This QB class doesn't have an elite guy. If you get Mettenberger in the third or fourth round, he has the size and arm strength to be an intriguing prospect. He improved by leaps and bounds this year. Cam Cameron helped Mettenberger.
Does Clowney fit into a 3-4 system Romeo Crennel will run in Houston? Would he have to lose a little weight to be an OLB or gain some to be a DE?
Mel Kiper (2:15 PM)
I don't think so. I think he's a 4-3 guy. A 4-3 DE. Could you use him on his feet? Yeah. But I see him as a 4-3 DE. That's how I see him in the NFL.
Frank (Charlotte, NC)
I think it's obvious that Sammy Watkins is the best WR in this class. After that it's a bit of a log jam. Between Evans, Benjamin, Robinson, Adams and Beckham, how would you have them ranked?
Mel Kiper (2:17 PM)
The way I rank them is: 1. Sammy Watkins; 2. Marqise Lee; 3. Mike Evans; 4. Kelvin Benjamin; 5. Brandin Cooks; 6. Odell Beckham; 7. Allen Robinson; 8. Donte Moncrief. If you want an intriguing guy, Dre Archer, Kent State. This is a kid that will probably run 4.27-4.3. He's lightning fast. He's a poor man's Tavon Austin. He'll be drafted as a slot man, return man. When he runs that fast 40, he'll probably go no later than the third round, maybe the second.
Ron (Nova Scotia)
Do you think a late round receiver with the 6'4/6'5 size would immediately rise up draft boards if they declared as a corner?
Mel Kiper (2:20 PM)
You could. Richard Sherman was a former WR. If you're struggling at that position and some of these guys played CB in high school. The top high school players play both ways. At this stage in their development, they've been tried in the secondary and figure out what they're best suited for. But that's something you could look at. There are some teams that build up TEs to make them OTs, take DLs and make them OLs, take LBs and make them FBs. The NFL is a trendy league. It's a copycat league. There will be some teams looking for the big WRs with bad hands. That's something the NFL could look at and see if they could make that transition. There will be some creative scouting teams looking to do that.
Sean (Washington DC)
Forget Elite guys Mel, is this QB class any better than last years?
Mel Kiper (2:22 PM)
This QB class, compared to last years, is going to be better on paper, just because you're going to have three, maybe four, first round QBs. This past year, the QBs slid a bit. Geno Smith slid. EJ Manuel got the bump up into the first round. Matt Barkley slid. Last year, the strength in numbers wasn't there. This year, there will be a lot of 3-5 round possibilities. There will be a couple of the second round and 3-4 in the first.
Joe (Matthews, NC)
Greg Robinson is an absolute mauler in the run game and excels getting to the second level. How concerned are teams that there isn't a whole bunch of film of him having to pass set in a 5 or 7 step drop? When Auburn passes it's generally quick game or the qb moving the line the way he rolls.
Mel Kiper (2:23 PM)
You go back. He was playing before they went to this offense. You look back to two years ago. He has great feet and great balance and tremendous natural ability. When he's coached up, he can be an oustanding pass blocking OT. Right now, he's fourth on the Big Board.
Dallas really needs a FS with range. Do you see Dixon or Ward as this type? Who else?
Mel Kiper (2:24 PM)
That's certainly one of their biggest needs. I have them picking Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round. The second best safety is Calvin Pryor from Louisville. If you're looking for a good second round safety, it's LaMarcus Joyner.
DO you really consider Ebron and Amaro better prospects than Eifert ? I have read that Evans from the Aggies will run 4.4 ish. If he does does he get into the top 10 and possibly get picked before Watkins?
Mel Kiper (2:25 PM)
Yeah, Ebron and Amaro could be. Ebron will be. After the workouts, both could have higher grades than Eifert.
Sean (Washington DC)
The Jets are going to have significant cap space this coming year, do you see them signing Maclin, Nicks or Decker as a FA and then maybe going after someone like Ebron in the draft to improve their offensive weapons?
Mel Kiper (2:26 PM)
Yeah, they could go that route. WR and TE are their biggest needs. They also have CB and LB needs. I have them looking at Marqise Lee. I don't think Ebron will be there at 18. If they wanted Amaro, they could get him.
Mel Kiper (2:27 PM)
There will be opportunities in free agency to sign a TE. That's why free agency will solve needs and create needs.
Could LSU's Jarvis Landry push into the bottom of the first round if he runs in the 4.4's at the combine?
Mel Kiper (2:28 PM)
I don't think so, because there are too many WRs ahead of him. If he does well at the combine, he could be a second rounder, but I don't see him in the first.
How close are Marqise Lee and Odell Beckham? To me Beckham looks better. Am I way off base?
Mel Kiper (2:30 PM)
I think Lee will be in the middle of the first and Beckham in the bottom of the first, so no, there's not too much difference. You have to look at Lee when he was healthy two years ago. Beckham also has return skills. Lee's overall body of work, two years ago was phenomenal. I think there will be nine receivers drafted in the first 50 picks.
Andrew Z. (Struthers, OH)
How high can Ryan Shazier go in the draft?
Mel Kiper (2:31 PM)
I love him. The 3-4 teams won't look at him, but as a 4-3 OLB, he's the prototype. He's an excellent cover LB. He's Lavonte David, and I thought he should have been a first round pick. The only reason he went in the second round was size. The only thing preventing Shazier from going in the top 15 is size. He's a first round caliber player, who may not go until the first round if there's not a fit for him.
Bert (St. Paul, MN)
Can Martavis Bryant be a better Stephen Hill? What is your view of him?
Mel Kiper (2:32 PM)
It's easy to say now, when Hill is struggling. Bryant has a lot of talent. He put it all together. Can he emerge at the pro level? Yeah, he has the talent. He has upside potential. He has a chance to be a decent to good 3-4 option. He got himself into the best shape of his career in the offseason. He's 6-4, 6-5. He has all of the talent in the world. He could be a third round draft choice.
Grant (Los Angeles, CA)
If one of the QBs goes first, do you see there being a large trade market to move up to #2 in order to grab one of the other ones, or do you think teams would be content to see what falls to them?
Mel Kiper (2:36 PM)
It depends who they really like. There is a lot of mixed opinion. The only consenus you could build is on Manziel. There is mixed opinion on Bortles, Carr, McCarron. A lot of mixed opinion on Bridgewater and Logan Thomas. I don't know if the QBs are highly regarded for moving up. Some of these QBs have bust potential. Manziel, Bortles, Bridgewater, Carr is my ranking of the QBs from least amount of concern to most.
Jon (Seattle, WA)
Which teams do you think would be the best fit for Chris Borland?
Mel Kiper (2:37 PM)
I think he's a tremendous player. He can play in a lot of defenses. He could be a guy who you could see in a lot of different schemes. He's not that big, but he's a heckuva football player. He's maneuverable. He can cover. I think you're looking at a kid who can be a second round choice. He reminds you of a Zach Thomas type.
Mel Kiper (2:38 PM)
I think they'll look at him as one of the best pure football players. Forget the measurables, he's in your top 20 as one of the best pure players.
WHO WINS THE SUPERBOWL? THE DENVER BRONCOS OR THE SEATTLE SEAHAWKS?
Mel Kiper (2:40 PM)
I'm taking Seattle. The public is usually wrong on the Super Bowl and it seems like they're on Denver. I think there will be a late push for Seattle. Their defense is so fast. They swarm to the ball. They get after the QBs. They have the pass rush to get after Manning and the guys to cover. It will be cold on Sunday night. Seattle can run the ball better. If Monte Ball is out there a lot, he's had some fumbling issues as a rookie. It will be cold, so you'll want a strong running game, a QB who doesn't turn it over and a strong defense. That's Seattle.
Are there any burners in this group of wide receivers? Outside of Sammy Watkins, there doesn't seem to be very many guys who can line up on the outside and stretch a defense.
Mel Kiper (2:42 PM)
Dri Archer will be a slot guy who can fly. The other guys who can run are Tevin Reese, Robert Herron, Tony Washington.
The RB position is really tough for me to get a handle on. I almost always see Carey, Hyde, Sankey, Seastrunk, Mason, Sims, and Hill as the top 7, but the order is always inconsistent. Why do you think that is?
Mel Kiper (2:44 PM)
There are a lot of underclassmen. Until they workout, you don't know how they'll project. My list is: 1. Carlos Hyde; 2. KaDeem Carey; 3. Bishop Sankey; 4. Jeremy Hill; 5. Lache Seastrunk; 6. DeAnthony Thomas; 7. Tre Mason; 8. Charles Sims; 9. Marion Grice; 10. Andre Williams.
Jeff (Dublin, OH)
What round do you think AJ McCarron goes?
Mel Kiper (2:45 PM)
I think he goes second or third round.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Mel, Since the Giants are making some changes with their coaches on the offensive side of the ball, when draft time arrives in May will many of the draft choices be offensive players and what needs immediate attention?
Mel Kiper (2:46 PM)
It's going to have to be heavy on offense. You need to help Eli Manning out. That OL needs to get better. They could use a TE, WR. They need two or three OL. They need a TE and a running back. So, 2-3 OL, TE, RB, WR. That's a lot of work to do in this draft. I gave them CJ Mosley in my first mock draft, because they do have a need at OLB and you can't force an offensive player at that point.
Chris (Broadview Heights, OH)
Follow-up question to your comment on the draft lacking elite QB's, given the supply (limited to non-existant) vs. demand (high - maybe 6 teams) for elite QB's, why don't more teams pass on them in the 1st round of the draft? They did last year, but I'm thinking this year could be a year of Gabberts, Ponders and Lockers for a number of NFL teams in the 1st round if your projections of non-elite hold true.
Mel Kiper (2:48 PM)
That's true. You have to assess these guys and roll the dice. Then come back and get another one if you don't hit. Teams aren't locked in on QBs any more. There isn't that big investment. If you take the QB and you don't hit, you cut him and move on. It's all about who your head coach and OC really like. There are about 15 draftable QBs this year.
Mel Kiper (2:49 PM)
I hope we end up with an outstanding Super Bowl. Be safe coming and going from them. Be responsible at the parties, get home safe. Enjoy the game. We'll be back next Thursday when my Mock 2.0 will be out.