Chat with Mel Kiper
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. makes his 2009 season chat debut! Kiper will premiere his 2009 Big Board on August 20.
Kiper has served as an expert analyst for ESPN's annual NFL Draft coverage since 1984. His pre-draft predictions are frequently the most accurate. Kiper is also analyst for College GameDay on ESPN Radio. He also contributes to SportsCenter and ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join Kiper Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (1:01 PM)
We're getting Mel!
Ryan (Corning, NY)
Who's the top Senior Runningback in the class and why?
Mel Kiper (1:04 PM)
I would say CJ Spiller from Clemson. He needs to have a productive year. They don't have James Davis any more. He will go into the year as the top senior RB. Other guys are James Starks from Buffalo, LeGarrette Blount from Oregon, Charles Scott from LSU, Stafon Johnson from USC. Chris Brown, Oklahoma. The top RBs are all underclassmen. Jonathan Dwyer from Georgia Tech could be, if he comes out early, a top 15-20 pick. Jahvid Best from Cal is a little undersized, but he could be in that 20-32 range. The two underclassmen could go ahead of any senior RB. Dwyer certainly will be.
Mel, as a notre dame fan all I have heard for the last two years is how good Jimmy is. I haven't seen it. I know his numbers are better than Brady's but mechanics and other attributes wise, how does Jimmy compare to Quinn?
Mel Kiper (1:07 PM)
He hasn't done it yet. He's only in his third year. He had that huge game against Hawaii. He added a lot of weight. He was only 192 when he came there. Now he's over 220. They got to 6-6. They didn't have a great finish to the season, but they had a great performance against Hawaii. But my concern for Notre Dame is the high expectations because of the schedule. All you hear is 11-1. I think 8-4 would be good with that schedule. Going from 6-6 to beating Hawaii in a minor bowl game, I don't know. There is great talent at WR and TE. People only talk about Notre Dame playing Michigan and USC. They act like those are the only two tough teams on the schedule. But Nevada is tough. Michigan State has beaten them six straight times at Notre Dame. No other school has done that. This notion that it's all about Michigan and USC isn't true. All three of their first games to start the season aren't walks in the park. They should score a lot of points against Nevada, but it will be itneresting to see their defense.
Antwuan W. (Downey, CA)
Mel, What kind grade would u give UCLA cornerback Alterraun Verner for the upcoming draft?
Mel Kiper (1:09 PM)
He's not real big, but he's a heck of a player. He's opportunistic. He's very, very very experienced in the Pac 10. They have a great DT to help him out, Brian Pryce is a great DT. They have some talent around Verner. Moore at FS. Before it was just Verner and Pryce. They have a good defense coming back. Verner would probably be the second or third highest rated CB. I think he's a second round draft choice. Kind of like a Nathan Vasher type player when he was at Texas.
Mel, how good do you think Matt Barkley can be?
Mel Kiper (1:11 PM)
I think he could be the No. 1 pick in the draft in 3-4 years. Aaron Corp is the sophomore QB right now, but Barkley is a big kid. I think he'll be the No. 1 pick in the draft. I said that this past draft. He was the No. 1 recruit in the country. He's battling Corp right now. THe offense is going to be a little more conservative. I think Barkley has a chance to be special. Sanchez was that guy this year. He's the next in line to be the next great Trojans QB. He has the Matthew Stafford ability. He's not as storng of an arm.
Will (Speedwell, TN) [via mobile]
If Eric Berry declares for the draft after this season, approximately where do you predict he would be drafted?
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
I think he's a top 5-10 pick in the first round. I have him rated ahead of Taylor Mays. Berry is a playmaker. He reminds me of Ed Reed. He's always where he should be. Great players make great plays. It's instinctive abilities that make good players great players. It's an intuitiveness about the game that puts them where the action always is. If you include underclassmen, my top 5 for the draft are: Sam Bradford, Eric Berry, Carlos Dunlap, Gerald McCoy, and for fifth, I'm debating - Taylor Mays, Jevan Snead, Ndamukong Suh, Dez Bryant, Dwyer. And I'm still tweaking that.
Mel Kiper (1:14 PM)
Bradford, Berry, McCoy, Dunlap, Snead, Bryant, Benn, Dwyer are the top underclassmen in the draft.
Mel -- What do you think of Oregon's chances this year in the Pac10 and do you think that Massoli has a future in the NFL?
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
I still think it's between USC and Cal. The big question with Oregon is the OL. Only 20 combined career starts for the OL. Jeremiah Masoli the QB is super tough. He was outstanding the last four games. When you have a guy like Masoli you always have a shot. They think they have outstanding LBs. The DL is a big question. Their secondary is questionable. And a new head coach is in there. Pivotal game for them is right off the bat at Boise State. That's a brutal way to start the season. Then they have four straight home games after that. They have Cal at home. If they can beat Cal, that puts them right in the mix.
Zane (Hornell, NY)
How do you think Greg Paulus will do as a QB at SU??? I think he might fair well.
Mel Kiper (1:21 PM)
The thing with Syracuse is they have a whole new environment. Everyone seems to be pulling together. A new head coach comes in Doug Marrone. Paulus does have some weapons around him. Delone Carter at RB and Mike Williams is an outstanding junior WR. They have some weapons. They have one of the top DTs in the nation is Arthur Jones. I have him as one of the top 10-15 best players for the draft. He is my 5th highest rated senior prospect in the country. You have some talent there. They have Minnesota at home, Penn State, Northwestern. It will be interesting to see how Paulus plays for a team that last year went 3-9.
Jonathan (Westerville, Ohio)
Just watching Terrelle Pryor's delivery during open practice Tuesday, does he have to change his delivery to be an NFL QB? Does his athletic ability make up for his delivery?
Mel Kiper (1:22 PM)
It's going to be that whole Vince Young comparisons. You had comparisons when he was a senior in high school. You see Young having the struggles in the NFL with the delivery. But great size and ability to make plays with his legs. But the passing skills determines who makes it in the NFL and who doesn't. He's only going to be a sophomore. He has a new look WR corp. This team took some hits as far as graduation.
Mel, how do you think Myron Rolle will fare after being away from the game for a year and what round do you see him going in?
Mel Kiper (1:24 PM)
I was never as quite as high on Rolle as some of the media and projections were. I thought he was a decent college player, but not a great player. I'm not as high on him as people seem to be. He was above average, but not special. His story is special. It's great what he's done academically and he was a good athlete, but I thought he was a 5-6 round guy.
Mel Kiper (1:24 PM)
And he'd probably drop a little bit after being away.
Do you think the draft will be a strong QB draft?
Mel Kiper (1:26 PM)
It should be a good year at QB. You have Sam Bradford, who could be No. 1 overall. Jevan Snead, if he comes out early. Colt McCoy from Texas. Dan LeFevour from Central Michigan could be late first early second. That doesn't mention Jimmy Claussen if he puts up big numbers. You could be looking at minimum of 3 QBs and as many as 4-5 mid first round.
Chris (Winnipeg ,MB)
Can Rich Rodrguiez get michigan back to a top ten team?
Mel Kiper (1:29 PM)
You would hope. Michigan has a great history. There's no reason to believe that he can't. It's going to be a process. What helps him is the Big Ten went 1-5 in the bowl games. Michigan State gave Georgia a pretty good battle in their bowl game. Keep in mind Northwestern lost their bowl game in OT against Missouri. Michigan State showed well and so did Ohio State. Those three teams played well, so that 1-5 is a big misleading. But with Michigan, there's no reason that they can't jump back in. Their schedule is amazing. They play two Mid-American Conference games early. Indiana at home early. The tough games are Michigan State, Iowa. You could see them win, with that schedule, 6-6.
Mel Kiper (1:30 PM)
That first game at the Big House, they'll face Hiller, a good prospect and the second week against Jimmy Claussen.
I know this is speculation and probably won't happen but IF Crabtree sat out the year and went back into the draft next year, would he be the #1 WR drafted? I think he'd have some stiff competition especially b/c of his signability issues.
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
I'm not even going to go there, because it would be financial suicide. It would be ridiculous. Nothing good would come of it for him. He went 10th because of the injury. He went to the 49ers. You have two WRs in Benn and Bryant that if they come out and put up big numbers would be there. Plus, he's not a 4.4 guy. Mike Williams sat out a year and he was a bust. You lose the year of salary. You're a year further away from free agency. Nothing is in his favor to go back into the draft. I think it would terrible on his part to go back into the draft. To even talk about it is laughable. You'll never make up that salary. It would be shocking and a big mistake on his part to do that. Get the deal done and get into camp. In four years, if you're a great player, become a free agent and get the bigger deal. Prove you're the next Larry Fitzgerald or Boldin and then you can test the market.
Mel - Who are you seeing as the top NT's and 5-technique DE's this year?
Mel Kiper (1:35 PM)
In terms of DL overall, it will be a pretty good group. Dunlap, McCoy, Suh, Arthur Jones, Terrence Cody. It's a pretty good group of DL. Corey Wootton. Brandon Graham.
Mel Kiper (1:35 PM)
A combo DE/OLB is Gerry Hughes, Greg Hardy, George Selvie. This is a good group of DL both at DT and DE.
Dee (Los Angeles)
Are there any big, speedy Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson type receiver that we should watch outside of Dez Bryant?
Mel Kiper (1:37 PM)
Bryant, Benn, these guys have good size. Damian Williams from USC is another. Brandon LaFell has good size. The one guy that's underrated and isn't the biggest is Mardy Gilyard. He has great ability to make the big play. There are a lot of WR. None of these guys are diminutive.
Nick (Tampa Bay, Florida)
Who is the next Leodis McKelvin in this upcoming draft? Who will be the best kick/punt returner in the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:38 PM)
That's a good question. There are a lot of guys that have abilities. Brandon James at Florida. He has outstanding return skills. Kyle Wilson at Boise State who's also an excellent CB. Javier Arenas, Perrish Cox.
Eric (Kennesaw, GA)
Hey Mel, where do you think of WVU Quarterback Jarrett Brown? Hes a big kid 6'4" and athletic, would wildcat teams be interested?
Mel Kiper (1:41 PM)
He has a chance to have a very good year. He has the X factor as to how good of a year WVU has. Pat White had an excellent career at WVU. Trying to replace him is like trying to replace a legend. He was one of the greatest players in WVU history. He had four great years. They have some big early games before their open date. I like Brown, but he's not going to be White. He could be a second round pick if he plays well or he could go in the 7th round, depending on how he plays this year. But he's one of the real X factors this year.
SteveFitz (Cicero, IL)
Mel, Bears 6th round pick Al Afalava. Bears are talking about him being the starter. Is he this good or is it lack of talent at the safety position?
Mel Kiper (1:42 PM)
He was a pretty good player at Oregon State. When I looked at him in college and Oregon STate had a good secondary, he's 5-11 and 214. He's just a guy that had that instinct. He has some talent. The Bears will see some impact from him. He showed future NFL ability. He was one of the more effective and productive safeties. They might have something there.
Mel - What do you think will happen with Tebow?
Mel Kiper (1:45 PM)
Same as its been. I think the passing skills of Tebow will be scrutinized. That long delivery needs to be tweaked. He needs to show arm strength and ability to make the NFL throws. He has a big window to throw in in college. I love Tim Tebow. He's one of the best players we've ever seen. He has a chance to win a third national title and a second Heisman. To get four years out of Tim Tebow, you don't see that all that often. He might end up being an H-back, fullback, TE. Whether he will be a fulltime QB will be determined this year. Whether he's a first round possibility or third round possibility will be seen this year. Will he tweak that delivery? Get that ball out quicker? That's what I will be looking for.
Mel, Will Julio Jones leave after his Junior year if so how high will he be picked?
Mel Kiper (1:47 PM)
Let's just enjoy Julio Jones now. He's only a sophomore. he's not going anywhere now. We knew him coming out of high school that he was a special player. He has great ability. With Green and Jones, you have two outstanding players who are only sophomores. But after they play great this year and next year, we can enjoy them playing football. The defense looks great at Alabama. If the OL and new QB come through and find a good solid complement to Jones, they could be a heckuva football team. We'll learn a lot about them against Georgia Tech. It will be fun to see Jevan Snead against this great Alabama defense when they play Ole Miss.
What is your honest opinion of Oakland's draft style? They certainly get the players they want... but always earlier than they are projected to go.
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
I think you look at it and the whole draft will be dictated on two things - passing on Crabtree and taking Heyward-Bey. Those two will always be linked. And Michael Mitchell as a second round pick. He was projected to be a 5-7 round pick. I found one team the night of the draft who had him as a second round pick and had him as a future pro bowler. There could have been more than that, I talked to five teams and one said they like him high. We'll see how it goes. The Heyward-Bey and Mitchell pick will determine how this draft goes. How Mitchell develops is pivotal and Heyward-Bey impacts the QB there.
Mel Kiper (1:51 PM)
This was a good first chat. We'll be back Wednesday at 1 p.m. throughout the year. Everything's later this year with the first college games not until Sept. 3. We have to wait awhile but we're still inching closer and closer.