Chat with Mel Kiper
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. will be by to discuss the upcoming 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 (1:00 PM)
We've got Mel!
Mel Kiper (1:03 PM)
I can't believe we're back! I like hearing "fall practice." It's begun and games can't be far behind. We'll be here all of the way through Draft Day.
nolekid (orlando, fl)
Mel, do you think the Christian Ponder Heisman campain will hurt Christians concentration when game time is here?
Mel Kiper (1:06 PM)
Nothing's going to hurt his focus. This is a top echelon young man. He's super blue chip kid. He's the only FBS school football player who has already gotten his MBA. They return starters around him. He's an incredible decision maker. Really cerebral. He's a great all around athlete. Good, not great arm strength. He's a potential first round caliber QB. They have a great OL around him. Rodney Hudson is a great guard. Andrew Datko is 6-6, 307 at tackle. I think this team can win 9 games, go 9-3. They play at Oklahoma, at Miami and against Florida.
Mel Kiper (1:08 PM)
When you look at the ACC in general, I think they're clearly the best team in the Atlantic. The battle is in the Coastal Division, with four good teams there. Kyle Parker returning to Clemson and not playing baseball will help them. FSU has the best kicker they've had since Janikowski, Dustin Hopkins. He led the ACC in touchbacks. This is a team to watch out for. That Oklahoma game will tell us a lot.
Does Ralph Friedgen save his job with a good season for maryland and also does donavan mcnabb bring the skins hope for the playoffs this season
Mel Kiper (1:09 PM)
That's the question. It's going to be tough for Maryland to win. They were 2-10 last year. On paper, they look better than they were last year. They seem like they're highly motivated. But the Navy game Sept. 6 is going to be critical. Navy is a quality opponent. You don't want to lose that game. They lost 7 straight to end the season, so you don't want to open losing to Navy. They need a confidence builder early.
Ryan Williams...1st round pick?
Mel Kiper (1:12 PM)
Yes. I think he is. This year, it's not just about Williams running the football. The injury that allowed Williams to have that year last year was to Evans, the leading rusher two years ago. My information is that they'll have a number of offensive sets with the both of them in the same backfield. They have Tyrod Taylor as a senior at QB. They think this offense will be as good as '99 when they were led by Michael Vick. Defensively, they have to replace 7 starters. They do have some talent. If they beat Boise State, I think they're 8-0 going into Nov. 4 hosting Georgia Tech. Then they play UNC and Miami.
Do the Huskies have 3 potential 1st round picks heading their offense this year?Locker, Polk, and Kearse?
Mel Kiper (1:14 PM)
I'm not going to go too crazy on first rounders yet. But there's talent there on that team, which is why they'll be vastly improved. Kearse is a junior with a ton of talent. Locker has a chance to be the No. 1 pick overall. They have some talent. Sarkisian and his staff make that a team to watch. They have a schedule that's as tough as anyone. After they play USC Oct. 2, they'll have three tough games under their belt. If they can go 2-2 in their first four, they should be happy.
When he came out of college, did you think Darrelle Revis could actually morph into Revis Island? And the Jets have to open up the wallet here, no?
Mel Kiper (1:17 PM)
I think they do. I did have a high grade on him when he came out. He was expected to be a good player and he has lived up to what he's expected to be. He's even exceeded them. To be the best cover CB in the NFL and with that blitz happy defense of Rex Ryan, he's out there by himself all the time. He should have had a Deion Sanders grade coming out, because he's played that well. He didn't have the grade, but he's played that well. He deserves to be paid like Asomugha. Cromartie was let go by the Chargers for a reason and Kyle Wilson is just a rookie. They need Revis if they want to go where they want to.
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
If I'm Revis, I wait until the Jets blink. He's the most underpaid player in the NFL right now.
Todd Werley (St Lucas St (PA))
Where did you have Dallas TE Scott Sicko graded coming out of UNH? He looked like a solid backup the other night. Starter potential down the road in a few years?
Mel Kiper (1:19 PM)
No. Just to have a chance to be on that team is the main thing you can ask for. He's 6-3, 235, ran a 4.7 40. I gave him a 6.0 grade, draftable grade. There were some TEs drafted that I gave Sicko a better grade than. Phillips being out for the Cowboys is a tough injury.
can boise st make it past virginia tech
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
It's going to be a great matchup. You'll have an outstanding Virginia Tech offense. Boise State coming in will be good, but they don't have Kyle Wilson, the only starter they lost to graduation. The Boise State defense gave up 33 points to Nevada, 34 to Fresno State, Idaho had 25 last year. It will be a great Virginia Tech offense against a Boise State defense that has some holes, but it will be a great Boise State offense against a Virginia Tech defense that has some questions. The winner of this game is a national championship contender. If Boise State wins, their next toughest game is Nevada in November. These are national championship hopes at stake. This is big time.
Mel, who are the projected favorites for heisman candidates to start the year? you have any dark horses in mind this year?
Mel Kiper (1:27 PM)
You have to put Kellen Moore in there. Tyrod Taylor. Ryan Williams. Obviously, Mark Ingram, but he has Trent Richardson behind him. Terrelle Pryor. One of the most valuable players this year will be Joshua Nesbitt. Christian Ponder. Dion Lewis. Case Keenum. They have a big game at UCLA.
nolekid (orlando, fl)
Mel, how long til Michigan gives Ohio State trouble and if Rich Rod doesn't win 7 or 8 games is he gone?
Mel Kiper (1:30 PM)
There's a lot of pressure there. He's a heckuva football coach. He's a proven entity. I think you need to be more patient. These seasons are not Michigan-like, I understand that. Can they be better? Yeah, I think they can be. They have some nice football players on this team. They have two critical games for them, Notre Dame Sept. 11 and UConn at home the week before that. They could be 4-1 before playing Michigan State Oct. 9. They need to do that, because then the schedule gets tougher.
Do you think Brian Kelly will wake up the echoes in South Bend?
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
The problem you deal with at Notre Dame is the hype and expectations. Brian Kelly is a proven football coach. But there are a lot of factors that go into this thing. This sets up well because he won a lot of games at Cincinnati. He's dealt with QB issues and personnel changes. If Dayne Crist stays healthy, I like their skill talent. There aren't many schools that can throw out a Floyd and Rudolph. It's important they do well their first two games because they play some tough games after that.
Mel Kiper (1:34 PM)
If they get to 8-4 this year, you have to be happy. Maybe some Notre Dame supporters wouldn't be, but they have to play USC, Utah, Tulsa, Pitt, Stanford. If they go 9-3 or 10-2, Brian Kelly should be coach of the year.
Matt (Grand Rapids)
Any hopes for the Hurricanes in a BCS game this year. I think they might be a little young, but no denying the talent on that team. Look out in 2 years!
Mel Kiper (1:38 PM)
No question. They are just loaded with young talent. They have two things working for them - Randy Shannon has established himself as a good coach and they have a ton of young talent. They have a true freshman WR Allen Hurns, RB Storm Johnson. They have a powerhouse RB in Damien Berry, who's tough to bring down. The crazy thing about this team is that Graig Cooper was injured with a knee injury. Even with him being out, they still think this is the best stable of RBs they have had under Shannon. In addition to those guys, they have Mike James, Lee Chambers, Lamarr Miller. That's five RBs that they like. Another big thing is having Pat Hill back healthy. They really missed him last year, he's one of the best blocking FBs in the country.
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
Colin McCarthy is the leader of the defense. Brandon Harris is the shut down CB. Sean Spence at LB. This team has talent. They can be an outstanding football team. They were very young last year. If Harris can eliminate some of the costly turnovers and the OL continues to gel, they have a shot. One of the biggest games in college football this year is Miami at Ohio State, but then they play Pitt, Clemson, UNC, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech. Brutal schedule.
Mel, I think Alabama is going to be great this year, but do you think they can really make it through an entire regular season undefeated for a third year in a row?
Mel Kiper (1:44 PM)
It will be tough. You're talking about a team that went 14-0 last year. That's a tough road. I don't think they will. The defense has to take a step back a little bit. McClain was a great player. Kareem Jackson and Javier Arenas at CB are gone. And Arenas was a great return man. You're back seven can't be as good. Terrence Cody was a real force for them. Dont'a Hightower is back this year. Their offense should be good. This is the reverse, their offense is good, but we're questioning their defense. When have we ever questioned Alabama's defense? Julio Jones will be the key guy there. The tricky game for them is Penn State on Sept. 11, Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina. Four tough games. Will they win all four? After Oct. 9, I think they sustain one loss.
What opening week game are you looking forward to the most?
Mel Kiper (1:47 PM)
Wow. Let's go through them....First, Boise State-Virginia Tech is one of the games of the year on Sept. 6. On Sept. 4, the games would be: UConn-Michigan. Purdue-Notre Dame. LSU-North Carolina. Washington-BYU.
Greg Jones from Michigan State. Do you see him being a good NFL linebacker?
Mel Kiper (1:48 PM)
I do. Greg Jones is a talented kid. When you look at the guys coming back at that position, he's my second highest player at ILB behind Sturdivant.
Iceman (Beta House, OR)
Mel, how do you see the Pac-10 race shaking out this year? Will Oregon repeat with a new QB, will USC retain dominance, or will someone like Oregon State step up to the throne?
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
The Pac-10, I think is going to be somewhat wide open. With USC and the issues there. I wouldn't say they've come back to the pack, because they have a lot of talent there. Stanford and Washington will be dangerous, but I don't think they'll be deep enough. UCLA will be better. Cal is OK. Oregon State is OK. I still think Oregon has a chance to be a good football team, even without Masoli. It will come down to Oregon and USC.
Mel Kiper (1:51 PM)
Arizona is a quality football team as well.
Eli (Portland, OR)
Mel, where in the top 25 would you rank the Oregon Ducks? Todd McShay doesn't even have them ranked. That is totally absurd. Agree?
Mel Kiper (1:52 PM)
They're borderline top 25 right now. Tennessee is a critical game. Then their next two road games are against bottom teams. They could go 4-0 early on and be undefeated or a one-loss team when they play USC.
jeremy (Va) [via mobile]
Does Tyrod Taylor have the leadership and talent to lead V-Tech to a major bowl? Also, what does the future hold for Tyrod? Late round pick and eventual journeymen or is his career over after college ball?
Mel Kiper (1:55 PM)
I think he does. You're talking about a QB who has matured a lot over the years. He has two outstanding RBs to lean on this year, that's a huge benefit to the QB. Also, how good is the LT position? That will be critical as well. Nick Becton will take over that position. He didn't play football until late in high school. He has never started a game. This year will be his first start as a third-year sophomore. Andre Smith, a senior TE they like as well. Jarrett Boykin, they think could be a big time WR. If that LT comes through, they think this offense could be their best since '99.
Mel Kiper (1:56 PM)
It really comes down to the Boise State game. The winner will have a chance at the national title and the loser will be off the radar for a long time. Virginia Tech could come back because of their schedule, but Boise State would be hard pressed to get back on the national radar.
curt (trappe md)
Mel better chance Terps to a bowl or the Orioles winning 50 games?
Mel Kiper (1:59 PM)
I'll tell you what Buck Showalter has done a great job. To get this team playing hard and with fundamentals is great. I don't think this was a fundamentally sound team. They've gotten better at that since he showed up. He's told them that it's a privilege to play in the majors. And getting Brian Roberts back in there is a spark. They'll win 50. They have a better shot than Maryland going to a bowl.
Will FSU be able to field a team? 2 guys torn ACL's yesterday and Fortson and potentailly Carr kicked off the team? These are the guys that Jimbo and his staff recruited so I guess Bobby was not the problem.
Mel Kiper (2:03 PM)
Florida State has a lot of talent. They're in good shape. They'll have to lean on the true freshman WRs: Kenny Shaw, Greg Dent, Jarred Haggens, Christian Green. They love the route running ability of Shaw. Dent is very talented. Haggens and Green were QBs in high school. Those four young true freshman WRs, they're hoping two of the four give them a boost. Every offensive lineman returns. Ponder and the RBs and the OL, this is an offense that will be very formidable. Bobby Bowden is going on a book tour to let Jimbo run the team.
Mel Kiper (2:03 PM)
We'll be back next week at 1 p.m. ET. It's great to be talking college football and the NFL.