Chat with Mel Kiper
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, 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. 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!
Buzzmaster (1:01 PM)
Let's get right the questions!
Mel: What do you think Jimmy Clausan will do -- go pro, or stay for his final season? And do you envision him being a first-rounder?
Mel Kiper (1:04 PM)
I would say come into the NFL draft, for this reason. The talent level at Notre Dame isn't where it needs to be. It's not going to suddenly rise to that level in one year. Remember, he came in and got beat up. He's 6-2, 6-3 about 220. He's incredibly accurate. Balls just don't hit the ground. He's tough. Very competitive. He's played through the turf toe. His offensive line is a big problem. The LT is beaten too often. I think when you look through this football team, the OL needs to get better. You don't know if Golden Tate will be back. Clausen will be right in the mix as the first QB taken. He's solidly in the top 10 on the Big Board. When you're that highly rated, you come out. You saw what happened with Bradford and the shoulder. I don't think there's any question that Jimmy Clausen should come out.
Jesse (Dorm room)
Do you think the Dolphins will be able to fight back and some how get in the playoffs?
Mel Kiper (1:07 PM)
No. I'd be surprised. The Dolphins, to me, are an up and coming team now. They went from a team last year that was a plateau team. They weren't good enough at a variety positions with Chad Pennington. But they change to an up and coming team with Chad Henne. He's not as inconsistent as he needs to be. The Wildcat is a major part of that offense. That secondary has problems, but they have three young players that will have to develop. Vontae Davis, Sean Smith and Chris Clemons. All have a chance to be excellent players. I think the secondary will go from terrible this year to good players next year. They're an up and coming team that are built for next year, not this year. They had the injury to Will Allen. They finished the first half of the season 3-5. I could see them going 4-4, 5-3 in the second half. Of the remaining 8 games, there are only 3 games where you could see them being physically outmanned. The other 5 they should be in. A 5-3 finish gets them to 8-8, but that's not a playoff team.
Mel Kiper (1:08 PM)
As long as Bill Parcells is with any organization, it basically guarantees that you're going to win. You're going to put the pieces together. Depending on Chad Henne, he has to make some strides and the young secondary gels, which I think it will. They also need to develop some WRs.
Do you think Brian Kelly's decision to keep Tony Pike out will start affecting his draft status . . . is he still draftable?
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
No. Tony Pike has a nice body of work this year and last year. He had an injury last year and had an injury this year. The issue is that his replacement is doing a nice job. He can beat you with his arm and his legs. Pike doesn't have that running ability. This kid is so good now, you don't want to effect the offense. Do you want to go back to Pike, when you're giving the defense so much to worry about? It's a dilemma for Brian Kelly. I've always believed that if you go out with an injury, you don't automatically get your job back. Football is a game of injuries. You get your job back when the other guy isn't playing well.
Chris (Chicago, IL)
What round would you project Sam Young (OT from ND) in the draft and where do you think he'd deserve to go based on his actual talent? I'm an ND fan and I think he's no better than 3rd round talent.
Mel Kiper (1:11 PM)
I'd say at best he's a 5-6 rounder. Based on some of the press clippings, notoriety and national attention, kind of overrated. The LT Paul Duncan would be a free agent.
Ronnie James (New Hampshire)
Mel, who are the best projected outside linebacker pass rushers for a 3-4 system?
Mel Kiper (1:12 PM)
A lot of them this year. The best 3-4 OLB would be Jerry Hughes, TCU; Brandon Graham, Michigan; Ricky Sapp, Clemson; Sergio Kindle, Texas; Eric Norwood, South Carolina. The best underclassman would be Von Miller, Texas A+M.
greg (fort worth)
who are the top underclassman corners in college right now, that could be big targets in next years draft
Mel Kiper (1:14 PM)
The best underclassmen corners -- Joe Haden from Florida is the best. Donovan Warren, Michigan; Kareem Jackson, Alabama; Amari Spievey, Iowa; Ras'I Dowling, Virginia. Those are your top 5 underclassmen CBs. Haden right now is my 11th highest player on my Big Board.
When do you start looking at NFL teams nneds for the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:15 PM)
Needs, I try to do that around early December. It's in the later stages of the season. You start to figure out where teams will be drafting in terms of order. Early to mid December is when I start to put needs together with teams. If you do it too early, things change. Young kids develop. I get my draft preview out in late November. Once that goes out, I start focusing on the teams needs.
Which of the Tar Heel defenders do you see heading to the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:17 PM)
There are a lot of underclassmen there. Their best players are underclassmen. They're a young team. Robert Quinn, Marvin Austin, Bruce Carter, Quan Sturdivant, Deunta Williams. They are all underclassmen. Also Zack Pianalto, their TE. When you look at the senior class, there's not a top, top guy. Cam Thomas. Most of the players are underclassmen.
Quintar (Birmingham, AL)
Mayn teams with QB issues also find themselves with OL issues (who knew they went hand in hand lol). The Lions went for a big QB pick before fixing their line and its already gotten Stafford injured. the Browns are back and forth with Quinn. so will teams continue this QB drafting trend before fixing their OL with big 1st and 2nd round picks.
Mel Kiper (1:21 PM)
You take the QB. You don't worry about the line. You develop the line. You don't worry about protecting a QB. You can't not take a QB because your line isn't good enough. St. Louis could have taken a QB. They could have had Mark Sanchez, but they took Jason Smith. Now they'll be looking at QB this year when they would have taken one last year. Remember Miami gambled a few years ago, Quintar. They took Jake Long No. 1, they did not take Matt Ryan and they ended up with Chad Henne late in the second round. People forget that they even took Phil Merling early in the second round before Henne. People are still figuring out if that was a good idea. Matt Ryan has played well and Henne is still developing. I've always believed if there's a QB worthy of being in the top 5, you take the QB. Cleveland did that a few years ago with Joe Thomas. Then they got Brady Quinn later in the first round. You take the highly regarded QB over the highly regarded LT.
Brendan (St. Louis)
What kind of ceiling do you think Mark Ingram has in the NFL?
Mel Kiper (1:22 PM)
He's only a sophomore and he runs with power. He's authoratative with his running style. He has balance. When he decides to come out for the NFL draft, he'll be an elite prospect. But he's only a sophomore. Right now, he's the leading Heisman candidate.
Mel, who will be Notre Dame's next coach? Gruden, Kelly?
Mel Kiper (1:26 PM)
The downfall of Charlie Weis has been not bringing in the necessary talent. If he wants to come back to the NFL as an OC, I think the door will be open. The downfall has been a lack of personnel. Particularly on defense. They don't have a good secondary. Manti Teo has been their best recruit on defense, but he's only one guy. They don't have the playmakers. Their OL is not good. That really hurts this football team. Outside of Teo, they don't have good LBs. They couldn't stop Navy running the ball. They had Navy pinned at their own 1-yardline and couldn't hold them. They have some individual stars, Tate, Floyd, Clausen, Rudolph. They are all elite players. Tate is a great college player but a little overhyped in terms of his NFL potential. Clausen will go high in the NFL draft. But their personnel needs to get better. I don't care who's the coach, you need the personnel. Gruden, Kelly, Patterson are all names you'll hear. Beano Cook brought up Pat Fitzgerald from Northwestern. If I were Notre Dame, I would go with Brian Kelly.
Mel Kiper (1:27 PM)
I think Jon Gruden is going to end up back in the NFL.
When do you start scouting QB's? What is your opinion of Andrew Luck of Stanford?
Mel Kiper (1:30 PM)
I start scouting them in high school. I don't believe in a lot of the hype. You hear people raving about the high school QBs and I want to see them. It's a lot like going in the NFL draft, some of these guys just don't pan out. That's why when I saw Matthew Stafford in high school, I liked him. Mitch Mustain, Tim Tebow were ranked ahead of him. I like Andrew Luck. His dad was a good college QB. The sky is the limit for him. He's a red-shirt freshman. Jim Harbaugh has clearly established himself as a bright, young head coach in college. I think he'll eventually make it to the NFL, if he so chooses. Right now, he's building his resume. Stanford became bowl eligible last week with the win over Oregon.
Hey Mel, if you were head of scouting for the Browns and you had 11 draft picks in the upcoming draft, how would you fix this team? Where would you start first?
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
First you have to assess the QB situation. Hopefully Brady Quinn will start the remaining of the season. You have 8 games left. See what you have in Quinn. You know what you have in Anderson. You have to see what Quinn has. He's been called too strong, too powerful to be an accurate consistent thrower. He needs a chance to prove that wrong. They need to develop some WRs. They need help on the defensive side of the ball. With the picks, you try to mortgage them for more. I'm a fan of moving down and getting more. They also need an heir apparent to Jamaal Lewis. Obviously, these young receivers, they need to develop the ones they drafted last year. Secondary help. Front seven help. The biggest thing this organization has to figure out is if Brady Quinn is the QB moving forward. The only way to find out is to play him. They pulled him all the way back on Sept. 27.
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
He missed a chance to finish that game and the five next games. They missed the boat on those chances to evaluate him.
Mel, What do you think of Joe Webb at UAB he is great running QB but I think he would be a great WR in the NFL?
Mel Kiper (1:35 PM)
He's a big kid. Big, athletic football player. I think his thing is where he's going to fit in. He's like 6-3.5 and 225 and runs in the 4.6 range. He has excellent physical ability. Workouts will determine that. When he starts working out at the combine and where he can project to in the NFL. He's going to be an interesting guy to watch. His physical prowess will give him the ability to hook on to a position, but his workouts will determine that. He's developed into a pretty good college QB. They're 4-5 right now. Nice homecoming win. Joe Webb's done a nice job with this team.
Jon Dwyer at Ga. Tech has been blowing up lately (180+ yards last two games). Where do you see him going in the draft if, most likely, he bolts for the NFL?
Mel Kiper (1:37 PM)
Runs with a lot of power. Breaks tackles effortlessly. Maintains balance in traffic. He's about 250 pounds. You forget he's that big and he has home run ability for being that big. The scheme helps him. I think some people will look at him as a 2-3 round kind of guy. The home run hitters are the ones to go earlier. He's more of a power back.
Do you think that the Raiders regret not taking Chris johnson in the draft? They love fast players and he was the fastest ever. And oh yeah, he also led the NCAA in total yardage.
Mel Kiper (1:42 PM)
They took Darren McFadden with the fourth pick. If you would have waited, you could have traded down once or twice and gotten a Mendenhall or Chris Johnson. Felix Jones went 22. Johnson went 24. But McFadden was the highly regarded back. But the OL in Oakland hasn't been what it needs to be. Russell hasn't been the QB they need him to be and McFadden has had injuries. He's a talented kid. Dallas with Felix Jones was a playoff team. Mendenhall, Super Bowl team. He was injured last year and missed most of the season. He had a fumbling problem earlier, but the Pittsburgh line has opened up gaping holes. Chris Johnson went to the playoffs last year with Tennessee.
Mel Kiper (1:43 PM)
RBs are only as good as their line, system and QB. Oakland has had problems with all of that. McFadden is in a bad situation. That's not apples to apples.
What has been the reason for the last 2 losses by the Denver Broncos? Is it something serious, or just something to be expected playing against elite NFL teams?
Mel Kiper (1:46 PM)
Oh, I said from the get-go that their record was a lot better than their talent. Everything fell into place for them. They should have never won against Cincinnati. That fluke play, they had no right winning that game. They beat Cleveland and Oakland. Then, they were down to Dallas 10-0 and won that game. They were down to New England and came back and won that game. And they beat San Diego. I give them credit for what they did. But the first weeks, they could very easily, instead of 6-0, 3-3. Now, their team right now, they're getting gashed on defense, their offense, they're having trouble protecting the QB. They refused to challenge the Ravens down the field. The Ravens played a zone defense and they didn't try to beat them deep. I think teams have adjusted to the type of passing game they are using. This is not an easy game against Washington. Let's see if they can bounce back. They still have to play at Indy. They still have to play at Philly. After it's all said and done they could be 9-7.
Mel Kiper (1:46 PM)
I think the best they'll finish is 10-6. This Washington game could be very tricky. They have to come all the way across the country to play. Beware Broncos. They're on upset alert. They better bring their A game to Washington.
Can Toby Gerhart be a successful RB at the next level?
Mel Kiper (1:48 PM)
I think he'll have some skeptics because he breaks a lot of tackles. He's not a speed merchant. He's a between the tackles power back. You see a lot of John Riggins in Gerhart. For his size, he has pretty good straight line speed. He's not one of those shifty backs. He's versatile. Very durable. He could be a workhorse for you as he has been for Standford. I think he's that John Riggins type of back and I think he will have an NFL future. Right now he's my third highest senior RB.
Mel, you're in Baltimore and I'm a Rutgers fan. What has been so impressive about Ray Rice and what is his upside? Could he be MJD or Emmitt?
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
First of all, he's a great kid. Tremendously hard worker. Team guy. Never worries about his stats. Never praises himself. Just a very respected player on this team. You just can't find him. He's short, compact. Once they do get to him, he's like a bowling ball. They have a tough time corralling him in the open field. He can catch the ball. He blocks. In that game on Sunday, Brian Leonard has become a really good back for the Bengals. The two backs that helped Rutgers get back were Leonard and Rice. Both of those Rutgers guys have accounted themselves well.
Was Michigan's cupboard really that bare when Rodriguez arrived or is this more/less an excuse (which I believe) for Rodriguez not working out?
Mel Kiper (1:52 PM)
You're changing the whole system. Lloyd Carr's last year there, they lost a lot of stars. It was a Chad Henne led team that beat Florida. It was a complete rebuilding. Graham, Brown, Minor, but not a lot of talent was leftover. It was a combination. Everything came together to get Michigan where it is right now.
Mel, I was impressed with NWU's Mike Kafka in a win over Iowa on ESPN. What chance do you give him of playing on Sundays? Thanks!
Mel Kiper (1:53 PM)
He's got a chance. He's so mobile and he can move around. He's got good height. He's in the 6-3 range. He can scramble. He's developed late in his career into a decent passer. He could be a late round, undrafted free agent that becomes a team's developmental QB.
Mike (Berkeley, CA)
Mel, at this point do you think it's better for Jahvid Best to just stay in school for his senior year?
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
He had the injury, the concussion, which thank God he's fine. If he's back to where he needs to be, he's had a great career there, he's the 18th player on my Big Board. RBs only have so much tread on the tires. You can't coach speed and big player ability and he has that. And he's a great kid. I don't see any reason why, if he's going to be fine coming back from the concussion, then I would say moving into the NFL wouldn't be a bad thing.
Ed (San Diego)
Is Sean Canfield an NFL QB?
Mel Kiper (1:57 PM)
He's surprised the heck out of me. My questions about Sean Canfield going into the year, he wasn't even going to be the guy there. I was impressed in the USC game, every time USC scored, he had an answer. Having both of the Rogers brothers really helps him. Mike Reilly does not get enough national recognition for the coach that he is. I thought he could be an excellent NFL coach. Players love him. Play hard for him. You can't not like Mike Reilly. When he comes on the air with you, he's like a part of your family. He makes you feel like you've known him for 20 years. The job he's done at Oregon State should not go under the radar. He's very much helped Sean Canfield. He's one of those late round free agent guys.
Michael Friedman (Oregon)
Mel, Can Jerimah Masoli be a franchise QB for somebody like coach Chip Kelly said?
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
Masoli is what he is. He's an excellent college QB. That's as far as you'll go with that. He's 5-10.5, about 218. He's only a junior. Chip Kelly has done a great job with this offense. When Masoli's out there, he's an outstanding college QB. For an elite college program like Oregon, then yeah, he's a franchise QB.
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
His ability is that he can run so well. He's a multi-dimensional QB. Enjoy him in college.
Joseph (Ft Worth)
Mel, any D1-AA players that are popping out to you? I am an alum from the defending national champion Richmond Spiders and it is exciting to see Hightower and a few others play in the NFL.
Mel Kiper (2:00 PM)
There are a lot of guys from the small college at that level. Adrian Tracy, DE, William and Mary; OG Casey Bender; OT Tony Washington, Abilene Christian; DE Grambling Christian Anthony. Just to name a few.
Mel Kiper (2:01 PM)
We covered a lot of bases. We do the key personnel matchups for key games up on ESPN.com every Thursday. We'll be back next Wednesday.