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!
Mel Kiper (1:00 PM)
Happy holidays. Hope you're having a safe one. Let's get started.
Mel, what does the board look like for running backs? How many will be taken in the first round?
Mel Kiper (1:03 PM)
Todd, it's a decent year for RBs, not a great one. There's one great prospect: C.J. Spiller. He's the one elite RB. If he runs in the 4.3s, he would solidify that, with the tremendous versatility he brings. He'll probably go between 10 and 15. You have to wait and see on Jahvid Best, who has been out with that concussion he sustained earlier in the season. He is very explosive but has gotten bigger and stronger. The other junior RBs with ability in the second round are Rian Matthews and Joe McKnight. From the senior class, although he's a junior/senior, Toby Gerhardt is in that second or third round mix. The guy you can't sleep on is James Starks, who has been out all year with an injury. He had a high grade at the start of the season and has a lot of skills. You have Spiller in the mid-1st, best as a possible 1st, a bunch of 2nd-3rd types, and then some in the fourth and fifth.
Mel Kiper (1:04 PM)
A very intriguing guy who had some minor injury issues is Michael Smith from Arkansas. He's small, but a diminutive dynamo with good speed. He's a reliable pass-catcher who will have a role in the NFL. Charles Scott from LSU is another kid with ability. You're going to find some intriguing running backs with ability in the fifth or sixth rounds.
Do the Rams take Suh #1 overall or do they go QB?
Mel Kiper (1:06 PM)
He's got all the skills. Physically, he obviously has talent, but he also has an incredible motor. He plays full-steam ahead all the time. He was great every week for the past two years. People act like the Texas game put him on the map, but he's been doing that all year. Husker fans already knew what he was capable of. I've had him at No. 1 since early October. Whether he goes No. 1 or not remains to be seen.
What should the Pats do with their pick this year?
Mel Kiper (1:08 PM)
They need to let the season flush out and see where they end up. This is a team with a lot of draft picks, and they had a lot last year. They are set up very well for the next few drafts. They let go a lot of their core leaders and went with a young group, so they'll have to do well. They had 12 choices last year. The Patriots have a lot of guys out of this previous draft that will help them. This is a defense that needs to be addressed. They are young and are still improving. They feel like the young offensive lineman they have drafted will need to develop -- Sebastian Vollmer. He's a developmental-type lineman. But they will emphasize defense, most likely.
Mel Kiper (1:08 PM)
At some point too, they need to find the heir-apparent to Moss. Julian Edelman can help out with Welker, but they need a true threat, a go-to guy.
Hogan (Windy City)
Would Taylor Mays do well to switch to a LB position?
Mel Kiper (1:11 PM)
Taylor plays well around the line. That's an interesting option. When he is in space, he tends to miss tackles by taking bad angles in pursuit. That will be an interesting dilemma. I didn't think he had a great year. His grade has dropped some. He has freakish athletic ability and linebacker size. He has straight-line speed and did not make as many game-changing plays as you'd hope. He's one of the more challenging evaluations for scouts and personnel people. I don't have a lot of confidence in my evaluation of Taylor Mays -- he could be a boom or a bust.
Walter (Boone, NC)
Is Dez Bryant still a first round pick?
Mel Kiper (1:12 PM)
Definitely. Big-time player. The suspension didn't hurt him. The NFL's not going to move him down. It would have been nice to see him finish strong, as he would have moved up 3-5 spots, but he's No. 9 on my big board and the No. 1 receiver overall. There's no one even in his league. The closest one is Aurelius Benn from Illinois. Dez Bryant is the man and has a lot of ability. He needs to run at least a respectable 40, because he's a big kid. He has the size that you really like in a prime receiver. He's gotta go somewhere in the top 10-12.
Mel, I haven't heard much about FSU safety, Myron Rolle since he took the year off for the scholarship he received. Is he entering the draft? If so, do you think the Bears can snag him in the 3rd round?
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
That's too early. I think he's a late-round pick. I thought he was a little overrated at FSU. He never surfaced as a big-time player. A very smart kid, and he'll get a chance to show what he can do, but I think he's a later-round pick at best.
matt (ewing, nj)
Hey Mel! Will there be a left tackle waiting for the Packers at the end of the first round (32 overall)? The guy from Iowa maybe? Would he be able to help right away and protect Rodgers' back?
Mel Kiper (1:15 PM)
Weakest position in this draft. Russell Okung is a top-10 pick. Anthony Davis from Rutgers could still be on the board, and Trent Williams could be a late-first pick, but there's not a lot to speak of. An interesting guy in the third round is Tony Washington out of Abilene Christian.
Mel Kiper (1:15 PM)
If you need a left tackle, this is not the year to find one in the draft.
Better defensive draft pick from UF, Haden or Spikes?
Mel Kiper (1:17 PM)
Haden, without question. He's my seventh-highest rated player on the big board. Clearly the best corner. The next-highest rated CB is Patrick Robinson from FSU. Haden will come in with a grade like Champ Bailey did when he was drafted. The big question with Brandon Spikes is speed. He's a good football player but there are a lot of questions about his speed. Best-case is second-round, worst case is fourth-round.
What's your opinion on the Urban Meyer situation?
Mel Kiper (1:21 PM)
To tell you the truth, I don't really have an opinion. It's based on how he feels physically. He obviously has concerns about the stress. I just hope he feels his health is in good shape. Lou Holtz made a great point -- don't make a huge decision this time of the year. It's a long season and takes a toll on you mentally and physically. The demands on a college coach are incredible. He's making a lot of money, but there's a lot of stress as well. This is not the time of year to make a huge decision.
Mel Kiper (1:22 PM)
There are very few breaks for these guys. College coaches get more of a break than the NFL, so it's a little easier.
Who do you see Cleveland going after for their first pick? So many holes on that team which one is the biggest?
Mel Kiper (1:24 PM)
First, they have to decide if Eric Mangini will remain coach. After that, Mike Holmgren and whoever is the coach will have to decide who's the QB moving forward. Is it Quinn? If not, you have to address that. QB and head coach are the two most important positions on a team, and they have neither settled. Then they have to look to defense, in all facets. They have some promising young receivers and Jerome Harrison showed some ability at running back near the end of the year.
Nick (Toledo, Ohio)
Hey Mel, Lions fan here so I'm all over your stuff these days.. Assuming the Rams go safe and take Suh #1, do you think Detroit will take McCoy? Their secondary will still be abysmal if they don't do something about their front 4. Thanks.
Mel Kiper (1:27 PM)
McCoy is the next-best player after Suh. Eric Berry, the safety from Tennessee, is after that. You'd have to look hard at McCoy. People aren't necessarily aware of how great a year he had, because all the attention went to Suh -- plus Oklahoma was disappointing. He recorded 13.5 sacks in their first 10 games. He locates the ball, reads blocks well, and has real good instincts. He could be a 4-3 DT or a 3-4 DE. He brings a lot of versatility to whichever scheme you choose to pursue. He can play inside or outside. There is a slight dropoff after your top 3. I like Jimmy Clausen up there at 4, Bradford at 5, and then you have guys like Okung, Haden, Derrick Morgan from GT, Bryant, and Rolando McClain from Alabama.
Jose (New York)
Mel, how serious is this 2011 no football talk? Is it 1994 strike serious? 1999 NBA lockout serious?
Mel Kiper (1:30 PM)
I hold out hope that Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith will hammer something out. Both men have a sense of the history of the NFL, and with this economy, you can't have any labor issues. We've had labor peace for so long that you hope we won't have to deal with that type of issue.
Hogan (Windy City)
Does Glenn Dorsey need to be moved to a 4-3 team?
Mel Kiper (1:31 PM)
I think he's always been suited for a 4-3 team. He belongs as a 4-3 DT. You have a new GM, head coach, and scheme in KC, so it's been affecting him. You have to be in the right scheme to maximize your ability.
Mel - Happy New Year! I was high on the Jets acquiring Lito Sheppard but he has had an up and down season. Do you think they will target a shut down corner in the draft to complement Revis?
Mel Kiper (1:34 PM)
You're not afforded the luxury of more than one! If you have one, you are in a great position, and Revis is the best one in the NFL, bar none. He's presented great value to the Jets for where they acquired them. You hope Haden can be up there with Revis. I thought the days of shutdown corners were ending with the rules as they are, yet Revis is still one. Could you imagine him in the 70s or 80s? Rex Ryan needs him. Sheppard is an adequate CB and has ability. Rex has gotta feel pretty good about this defense. They were a borderline playoff team this year and may make them regardless with the Colts and Bengals not caring. This team has a chance to bea really good when the light kicks on in Sanchez' head. The Jets will be a force for a long time.
Mel, how about some BCS bowl picks?
Mel Kiper (1:39 PM)
I'll take Oregon in the Rose. They are a slight favorite with so many weapons. They are a good matchup against OSU's defense. Terrelle Pryor will have to be at his best as they have been challenged this year on offense. Oregon's defense has some holes, but they will score on OSU and Pryor will have to match points. This is the perfect storm for Florida against Cincinnati. It's Tebow's final game, the Bearcats don't have their coach, the Meyer situation will fire them up, and though Florida is not as good offensively as they were last year, they will score on Cincinnati. I've been on TCU all year so I'll stick with them in the Fiesta Bowl. Tough game in the Orange Bowl. It's a flip of the coin between GT and Iowa. That's a tossup for me. In the national championship game, I'll stick with Alabama. Their third RB is Roy Upchurch, who will be a good late-round pick. Special teams may dictate this game. Jordan Shipley for Texas and Javier Arenas for Alabama will have a huge impact.
Hi Mel, Have a happy new year. With Tech firing Mike Leach, what effect do you think it will have on players deciding to stay at tech next year or going pro?
Mel Kiper (1:43 PM)
Interesting question. It seems like he's had support from the players in this situation. It's unfortunate. He did a great job at Tech. It's a bizarre situation. I never remember any problems with him there. All he does as win and produce staggering offenses. This is a shock to me, to see it unfold so quickly. I don't get it. All the facts aren't in yet, but something doesn't seem right to me. This is bizarre, to say the least. All I can say is that he's a great football coach and gave Texas Tech some phenomenal seasons, putting them on the map. They have some guys playing in the NFL who have done a great job. It can't be good for them going against Michigan St. These are Mike Leach's guys. This is a huge distraction and can't be good short- or long-term. This is not an historical power. It's got to be a huge shock for the Red Raiders. I've seen a lot of crazy things in my years covering the game, but this is bizarre to say the least.
Mel, how would you grade Barkley's first season as college qb? Is he the best freshman qb in the country by far?
Mel Kiper (1:44 PM)
Not by far. He's shown promise. Is he as good as I thought he would be? I don't think you can put that label on a rookie. I think he will be a great QB, but he's not there yet. He did show that he had a lot of ability. Think of Tom Savage at Rutgers. Andrew Luck can't be compared to Barkley -- he is a redshirt freshman and has had that year to learn and settle in. Any comparisons are completely unfair. USC's future looks bright with Barkley under center.
Emmanuel (Las Vegas)
There's so much attention on Eric Berry in the bowl game against the Hokies, and rightfully so.. but i'm more intrigued to see the impact Kam Chancellor can make. In my eyes, he's had a very productive career! What kind of impact do you see him making at the next level?
Mel Kiper (1:46 PM)
He's a talented kid. He hasn't achieved an elite kid yet, but he has linebacker size and safety athletic skills. He has a lot of talent. When he puts it all together, there are games when you see him look like a first-rounder. He has talent and has played at a high level. Overall, he's one of the top 5-7 safeties, which puts him in the early-round mix come April.
Ken (Scottsdale, AZ)
What are your thoughts on Benie Wells first season? You think a few teams made a mistake on passing on him?
Mel Kiper (1:48 PM)
He's had a great rookie year. One of the top rookies in the NFL. I gave him a high grade and he went lower than I thought he would. Think about where the Cardinals would be without Wells. He's been outstanding in short yardage and home-run hitting ability. He runs hard and shows an aggressive running style. He is a tough insider runner with great speed. For anyone to question his toughness coming out, they have been proven wrong already. I'll tell you what sold me on him, when he out-raced LSU defenders in the secondary last year late. He had top-10 ability and dropped so far. You can always find RBs who dropped more than they should. Moreno and Brown have done well and shone promise, but Wells should not have dropped to 31.
Chad (Las Vegas)
Best Non-BCS bowl from a prospects point of view?
Mel Kiper (1:52 PM)
The Holiday Bowl tonight could be good. You get a chance to see Suh and one of the best defenses in the country take on Nick Foles, a great QB. They have an outstanding DT in Earl Mitchell. An excellent senior CB in Devin Ross for Nebraska ... you have talent all the way around. Larry Asante, the DB for Nebraska, certainly worth keeping an eye on him. Pierre Allen, an outstanding junior DE. That'll be fun to watch.
Mel Kiper (1:53 PM)
Lots of good players in Penn St.-LSU. Sean Lee, Jared Odrick, Chad Jones, Ciron Black, Brandon LaFell -- a lot of talent on the field in this game.
For a guy like DH Bey to not improve during the season is just plain lack of work,poor coaching,overestimating his abilitys or is it that maybe he just isn't a football player?
Mel Kiper (1:55 PM)
He has a very good work ethic. Good kid, and you root for him, but I thought he was the 31st-best player, and he went seventh! Way, way overreaching. He's not a natural pass-catcher. He needs a lot more reps in terms catching ball after ball after ball. You could have had Crabtree, consensus top-3 player in the draft, he would have been a steal at 7. You get a major reach with Heyward-Bey. He does have outstanding straight-line speed, but Crabtree is the better player. Oakland did make a good pick in round four by getting Louis Murphy out of Florida. If they had those two plus their backs and Zach Miller, they could have been on their way, once they solidified the QB position.
Do you think that Jeremy maclin has the ability do match what DeSean Jackson has done for the eagles? I mean the skills are there
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
I don't think anyone will match what Jackson did. It's difficult to match the big plays that he has pulled off in just his first few years in the NFL. He was so dynamic at Cal, and the concern was size and focus. Those were the concerns, and he has come into Philadelphia with Andy Reid and a winning organization. You have that kind of stability, and Super Bowl aspirations, and it was a good pick. They're a trendy pick this year. Maclin has a lot of ability and has shown a lot of promise.
Shane (St Louis)
Hey Mel what about Denario Alexander as a big play WR at the next level? Where do you think he gets drafted?
Mel Kiper (1:59 PM)
The big concern moving forward (and he had a great year, I highlighted him early in the year) is the knee injury. Two surgeries so far. He's six-five, 211 with good hands and he's very difficult to bring down after the catch. He can make things happen after the catch as well. After the great year he had, if he has a good combine, he could be in the second to fourth round mix.
Mel Kiper (2:00 PM)
Happy New Year to everybody. Safe travels, and enjoy the remainder of the bowl season. The final weeks should be exciting. We'll be back the same time next week to do it all again.