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!
Buzzmaster (2:01 PM)
We've got Mel!
ted (cape cod)
What's the one thing that impresses you most about watching Marcus Mariota on film, Mel?
Mel Kiper (2:02 PM)
His composure just jumps out at me. He's unflappable. For a third year sophomore, it's amazing. He didn't have Thomas against Washington. The TE left the team and his top WR got hurt. He was the marked man and he still did the job. His demeanor, in addition to having all of the physical traits.
Ryan (Hanover, PA)
You can't convince me there are 10 better collegiate WR's then TJ.Jones. No chance Mel!
Mel Kiper (2:03 PM)
I think I can. I think I found 10 that are better. When you factor in the draft eligible underclassmen. TJ Jones has deceptive speed. He catches the ball away from his body. He's a solid, possession receiver. In the 4-5 round, he'll make sense. He'll play in the NFL for a long time.
Does Wilkerson get into the Pro Bowl this year?
Mel Kiper (2:04 PM)
I think he's the best DL in the NFL this year. He's been disruptive every game. He's unblockable in games. Ends or tackles, he's playing the best of any DL this year.
Mel, how would compare the top 3 qb's (mariota, hundley, bridgewater) in this class to the top 3 from a couple of years ago (Luck, RGIII, Tannehill)?
Mel Kiper (2:06 PM)
The earlier group is better. This year's group is young. There are a few third-year sophomores in this year's class. Luck was a senior. That group was better. Right now, it will be interesting to see who is the best of the group. I think Mariota is putting pressure on Bridgewater to be the first taken. And I like Manziel a lot more this year than I thought I would. You could have as many as seven starting QBs coming out of this draft.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Are Schaub & Kubiak done in Houston?
Mel Kiper (2:08 PM)
I don't know about that. Schaub at QB, they have Yates and Keenum behind him. Schaub has had his chance. They've got the supporting cast behind him. The OL has had their struggles, they need to improve. This Houston team has a record that's not acceptable. They have Indy after the bye week. It's a tough road ahead. The schedule gets a little easier the second half of the season. Arizona, Jacksonville, Oakland. If they can find a way to beat KC this week, they go into the bye with some momentum. They were fortunate to win their first two games of the year. They're a testamony to how fragile this league is. You can be in dire straits like Houston is and they were up 20-3 at one point against Seattle, one of the best teams in the league.
Chuckie (St. Bonaventure)
Heisman winner right now?
Mel Kiper (2:09 PM)
Marcus Mariota. Based on what he did last week, he'd be the winner. Manziel is right there. He's a magician on the field. The Winston-Boyd winner on Saturday will be No. 3.
Geoff (Easton, PA)
Mel.. speaking of college WR's... what is your opinion on Penn State's Allen Robinson?
Mel Kiper (2:11 PM)
I like him. He had a chance on Saturday to make plays against Michigan. One play in particular he didn't make, but he's a talented kid. The debate will be do you come out or stay? I think you stay another year. You'll have Hackenberg coming back as a sophomore. They could put up big numbers next year. Robinson works hard. Good hands. Another year could really help him.
How is tajh Boyd a 3-4 rd pick? At very least he's a 2nd he's NFL ready and his height isn't an issue at 6-1 225lbs especially when he can make all of the throws he needs to make
Mel Kiper (2:12 PM)
I think he's more of a 3-4 round pick. I think he's right around 6-feet. He needs to work on being more precise on the throws from the pocket. Then you've got yourself a third round pick that can be a starter.
Craig (Braintree, MA)
Do the Vikings have their starting QB for 2014 on their current roster?
Mel Kiper (2:13 PM)
They're trying to figure that out. That's why they brought in Josh Freeman. They're starting him on Monday night. What they want to find out if they've caught lightning in a bottle. They need to find out if he's the guy. I think they've decided that Cassel's not the answer and neither is Ponder. I said it back in August, in a division with Rodgers, Stafford and Cutler, you can't be a distant fourth at QB, and that's where they're at. You're not going anywhere if that's the case, no matter if your RB is AP.
How many NFL prospects does Virginia Tech defense have?
Mel Kiper (2:15 PM)
They have a very good defense. I have three early rounders and a couple of mid-rounders.
After seeing live this past week, thoughts on Eddie Lacy?
Mel Kiper (2:16 PM)
He looked very good. He showed that cutback ability. He showed a good burst. Finished runs. Did a nice job. They needed it. They were depleted severely at the WR position, so they needed a big day on the ground. The pass from Rodgers to Finley late was the key play of the game. Had Baltimore gotten that ball back, I think they would have won the game.
Chuckie (St. Bonaventure)
What's your take on the Irsay-Manning media feud Mel?
Mel Kiper (2:18 PM)
I don't think anything should have been said by Jim Irsay. Don't make any comments. Why would you even comment about Peyton Manning that could be perceived as negative? Why would you even think about saying anything about a player that could be viewed as iconic? Nothing should be said other than just heaping praise on Peyton Manning? Nothing should have been said. A professional, legend like Manning, why even go there? What purpose does that serve?
Ryan (Montreal) [via mobile]
Do you think Washington will regret the RG3 deal? If the Rams get a top 10 pick it has to be an even bigger win for STL right?
Mel Kiper (2:20 PM)
We have to see how it plays out. RGIII is a great QB when he's healthy. He's not healthy right now. He's working his way back from his second serious knee injury. He's probably only about 60% right now. His accuracy is poor because he's rusty. He still has to protect his body more. If he can get back to full strength, then it's a great deal for Washington. St. Louis has to develop a winning team through those picks. Sam Bradford has to be the guy or else St. Louis could have just picked RGIII.
Mike Rasmussen (Kerman, CA)
Hello Mel. IF Fresno State runs the table, are they the favorite of the non BCS schools to get a shot at a big time bowl game? Thanks.
Mel Kiper (2:22 PM)
No. I look at their schedule and they go into OT at home to beat Rutgers. They struggled against Boise State, only winning by a point. They don't have any tough games coming up. A tricky game is Wyoming on the road coming up. Circle that one as a possible slip up. Louisville, Fresno State, when you play those schedules and you're struggling, I'm not excited about teams that play a very mediocre schedule.
Dylan P (Vacaville Ca)
Top 3 draft-eligible RBS? Seastrunk right behind Gurley now that he's been out?
Mel Kiper (2:23 PM)
Gurley's not draft eligible. He's a true sophomore. My top 6 are: DeAnthony Thomas, Oregon; Seastrunk; Melvin Gordon III; Sankey; Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona; Carlos Hyde, Ohio State.
Kevin (Reno, NV)
Does Jameis Winston get brought back to earth this weekend in Death Valley and finally look like a freshmen?
Mel Kiper (2:24 PM)
So far, so good. But this is his first test. He'll have to deal with a tough pass rush. This year Vic Beasley has been the best pure pass rusher in college football. Erving will have to protect him and he's had some struggles.
Joe (San Mateo, CA)
Mel, what are your thoughts on the pro prospects of Miami RB Duke Johnson when he is eligible?
Mel Kiper (2:25 PM)
I like Duke Johnson. He's shifty, fast. He catches with his hands. When he's 100%, he's a dynamic RB. I like everything I see so far.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Are you concerned with Ray Rice? The offensive line has gotten a lot of the blame, deservedly so, but shouldn't a great RB be able to gain more than what's blocked? It feels like Pierce has been more explosive...
Mel Kiper (2:26 PM)
When I watch Rice play, yeah, there's more there than what he's picking up. The line play has some to do with that. But I think he's not picking his holes and finishing the runs like when he's playing his best football. For whatever reason, he's not maximizing his ability right now.
Chris Borland is a tremendous college FB player. How do you think he translates to NFL though? Special teams player, part-time player, NFL starter, or better?
Mel Kiper (2:28 PM)
I think very well. You get into the same thing, he's not 6-2. But you don't have to be 6-2 to be a great ILB. His production is outstanding. His instincts for the game are spectacular. He's very athletic. He'll test out as one of the best ILBs. He's so smart. His play recognition. He's a heckuva player. He's worth second round consideration.
Rick (Long Island, NY)
Hi Mel: thoughts on Denver this week at Indy? Miller is back, Champ getting healthy... what do you think of them this week and going forward?
Mel Kiper (2:30 PM)
The Colts showed their weakness against the run. I think Manning and that offense will be too much for that defense. San Diego showed that. But this is the NFL. This is a league where there isn't a lot of logic in some of these games. The NFL has surprises every week.
Mel Kiper (2:30 PM)
Denver's not losing at home. They play at New England Nov. 24. That's a tough game. They only have a couple of big tests before we start talking undefeated.
Terry (San Francisco)
Mel, Hoyer's on a two-year deal. Has he proven enough that Banner and Lombardi won't use one of their first-rounders on a QB? I think the entire city of Cleveland would love to see Hoyer get a chance to start. Then we could draft a developmental guy like Garoppalo, Boyd or Price on day 2. What do you think?
Mel Kiper (2:32 PM)
I think he would have been well on his way to having not force them to use a first round pick on a QB. That's one of the shames of this season. Now, with the injury, you don't know what he's going to be like coming back from it. That makes it very difficult.
Ed (Queens Village)
Would you say Jets got better end of deal by trading Revis and drafting Richardson w/ Bucs pick?
Mel Kiper (2:33 PM)
I'd rather have Richardson. He's developed into a heckuva player. He's probably the best rookie in the NFL right now. He's benefitted from Wilkerson being so dominating. The best overall DL has helped the best rookie establish himself. With the DL that the Jets are putting on the field, they're tough to block.
Do you think LSU has the best Pro ready WR's...
Mel Kiper (2:36 PM)
You could make that argument. They both have great hands. They've dropped a couple of balls here and there.
Mel -- Zach Mettenberger obviously will be coming out of college with only a year of top-level performance under his belt (assuming the rest of the season plays out as the first half has). Do you think NFL teams will buy into the potential/projection or will the lack of consistent performance over his college career hurt his draft prospects?
Mel Kiper (2:37 PM)
I think he's put to rest any doubts what kind of QB he is. He had some good moments last season, just not as good as he has been this year. Cam Cameron has helped him. This is a talented football team. Mettenberger was in great shape coming into the year. He's a calm signal caller. I think he's got a chance to be a first or second round pick.
Will Jordan Lynch be on a NFL roster next year? It seems like he's become a better passer this year.
Mel Kiper (2:38 PM)
The height factor works against him. He's an outstanding college QB. He's gritty. I think he's a late round possibility.
Why does the NFL expect Ndamukong Suh to play fairly when they don't fine him fairly?
Mel Kiper (2:41 PM)
I think he's being watched a lot closer than you would with someone who doesn't have his track record. I didn't see anything wrong with Sunday's hit. Unfortunately, they're trying to send a message? I don't know. You can't pull up when you're coming full steam. Some of these fines don't make sense to me. Fine for an over the top, obvious hit, I get that. But when you start fining for football plays, I don't get that. You need to give the benefit of the doubt to the player. Unless it's blatantly over the top, I'm not fining any players. If it's borderline, you leave it alone.
Steve (Middletown, OH)
Record of the team that wins the NFC East 7-9 or 6-10?
Mel Kiper (2:42 PM)
I wouldn't go that far, but I think 8-8 could be the cutoff point. Dallas was 8-8 last year. They're 130-130 over the last number of years. They have some tough games coming up. Three of their next four are on the road. At the end of the day, they're 3-3 now and I think they could get to 9-7.
Mel Kiper (2:43 PM)
I think the winner of this Eagles-Cowboys game this week has the inside shot at the division and winning 9 games.
David (New York)
the Jets look a lot better than an expansion team huh?
Mel Kiper (2:45 PM)
Not to me they don't. I said they were a glorified expansion team before the draft. The two key players have been Geno Smith and Sheldon Richardson. You take them off this team and you have problems. I said they were an expansion team before the draft. Let's not go overboard on the Jets. They have their three wins. They still may only be a 5 or 6 win team. If they get to 7 or 8 wins, they've proven me wrong. They have a tough schedule coming up.
Mel Kiper (2:45 PM)
New England, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Baltimore, Miami, they have some tough games coming up.
Looks like another 4-12 or 5-11 season in Buffalo. Is this finally the year they look LT in the first round?
Mel Kiper (2:47 PM)
A lot of it has to do with the injury to EJ Manuel. You're forced to go with Jeff Tuel and Thad Lewis. Manuel's going to be out for a while. That's prevented the Bills from having the run we thought. They have a tough stretch coming up. They're probably a 5 win team. The majority of it has to do with the QB situation. They have some areas they need help at, sure.
Does EVERYONE expect Kaepernick to perform like he did in Week 1? Why all the overblown expectations for someone who has started 16 games?
Mel Kiper (2:49 PM)
He's that good when he has help. You can't do it alone in the NFL. He didn't have Vernon Davis and Crabtree. He was up against it. That's what hurt him in the Indianapolis game. They need Vernon Davis. When he's out there, it's a different team. They're fortunate now to have Jacksonville and Tennessee coming up. Then home to Carolina. They will still be an 11 win team.
Mel Kiper (2:49 PM)
Even with the injuries they've had. The Aldon Smith situation. Not having Crabtree. Still they'll get 11 wins.
What are the Steelers going to look for with there really early first pick? WR, OL, DL?
Mel Kiper (2:51 PM)
They have to shore up the OL. They traded for Levi Brown and he got hurt. Then, defensively, they have some holes there. They addressed the LB situation with Jarvis Jones. They need to get a little younger on the DL, which they tried to do. The OL is the biggest area of concern. If they can add another WR, they'll be fine.
Mel, you watched the Ravens/Packers game. I was wondering what you felt about the Matt Elam hit on Randall Cobb? When the game was live I didn't think it was dirty, or cheap. However after watching replays, I felt Elam went lower then he had to. I wouldn't necessarily say its dirty or cheap, just that he didn't have to go that low. Thoughts?
Mel Kiper (2:53 PM)
You go low, because you can't go high. That's the problem with the NFL right now. You go low because you can't go high. Even if you try going mid-level, if the guy lowers his head, you can get fined for a head shot. But Matt Elam isn't even 6-feet. He's not that tall safety. He's only 5-9. He's naturally going to hit low. But if you have rules that don't allow you to hit high, you're forcing guys to hit low. How do you tackle some guy if every injury has an issue? If we want to negate injuries, play flag football.
Mel Kiper (2:54 PM)
I'm sick and tired of this. You're going to have injuries, unfortuately. If you don't like it, don't watch it and don't play it. You can't prevent injuries. You can try to legislate it, but there are too many rules. A safety has to tackle, he has to hit.
Bert (Zumbrota, MN)
Do you feel that Trent Richardson will soon show why he was a highly drafted back and then traded for a 1st round pick, or is he just not as good as once thought?
Mel Kiper (2:56 PM)
I said when this trade was made, it was a great move for the Browns. I have said for years I would never draft a RB in the first round and I would never trade one. Trent Richardson has struggled running the ball, catching the ball and blocking. There's not many other places to struggle. He only has two receptions for the Colts and his longest run is 12 yards. This has been a great trade for the Browns.
Mel Kiper (2:57 PM)
We're still waiting for that breakout game for Trent Richardson with the Colts.
Mel Kiper (2:58 PM)
I think it's one of the more intriguing NFL weekends coming up. The Cincy-Detroit is pivotal. Baltimore-Pittsburgh. Eagles-Cowboys. A lot of intriguing games. And we'll find out a lot in college with FSU and Clemson. Who remains in the national championship hunt?
Mel Kiper (2:58 PM)
Until next week!