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 (12:59 PM)
We've got Mel!
Mel Kiper (1:01 PM)
The new Big Board will go up on ESPN.com today, the first of the season. And the top five seniors and juniors at each position.
Tom (Madison, WI)
You have ranked Wisconsin's offensive tackle, Gabe Carimi and guard, John Moffitt as top five at their position in the 2011 draft. My question is, do you think they make-up the top left side of the line in college football this year? Thanks.
Mel Kiper (1:02 PM)
They're a talented group. Moffitt can project to center or guard in the NFL. He played center a few years ago. I think the left side with him and Carimi is very talented. Carimi is probably a second round guy and Moffitt and fifth round guy. The RT, Josh Ogelsby also has NFL ability.
Stevey Nipas CA [via mobile]
Wats good Mel? Whats your opinion on USC linebackers Michael Morgan and Malcolm Smith as NFL Prospects?
Mel Kiper (1:04 PM)
Morgan is a senior, OLB. He has ability. He is not in my top 5 seniors. Top 10 guy, not top 5. Smith is right now in the mix with Morgan on my board, so in the 3-5 round area.
Kingpin (Grinnell, IA)
Just how good is Iowa's D line this year? Wow! Is Adrian Clayborn gonna be a top-10 draft pick?
Mel Kiper (1:05 PM)
You could make an argument that it's the best DL in college football. The leader is Clayborn in that group. He's an early first round caliber player. Very quick. Very hard to block. Heckuva player. The next best player on the DL would probably be Christian Ballard. He's a tough, hard working blue collar player. Karl Klug is a solid player. Broderick Binns, junior DE is cat quick and very explosive.
What do you think of Evan Royster as an NFL prospect?
Mel Kiper (1:06 PM)
Royster is one of those guys. He doesn't wow you over. He's my 5th higest rated senior RB. He's productive and finds a way to move the chains. He's got great vision. Knows how to utilize his blockers. Not real fast. Not super elusive. He'll find a crease. He's not shifty, but he makes positive yardage. He's just not explosive or dynamic.
Mel Kiper (1:07 PM)
The guy that is the most explosive back that they have is junior Stephfon Green. He's a guy that has that burst and can catch the ball out of the backfield. He's the game breaker.
How well will Florida fare with out Tim Tebow this season?
Mel Kiper (1:09 PM)
It's going to be a completely different ball game down there. They're always a physical team. Their mode of operation will change. There is no defined superstars on offense. No Cooper, no Harvin, Tebow, Pouncey. Now you have John Brantley, an up and comer. He's the strong armed pure passer. Mike Pouncey. But no superstars on this offense. Brantley will do things in a different way. He is the pro style QB with a good arm and passing skills.
Kevin (Simsbury, CT)
Mel- Could be a big year for Uconn in the Big east. Returning 16 starters, after losing 5 games by a combined total of 15 points last year. Arguabley the best o-line and linebacker tandem in the conference. Just throwing it out there... if they ran the table, is there any shot at the title game?
Mel Kiper (1:12 PM)
In terms of running the table, they have to get past Michigan in the first week. To see Randy Edsall have this program opening against Michigan, after opening against Buffalo and Liberty in 2005. He's done an incredible job. He's in his 12th year at UConn now. He has had early round draft picks in the NFL. He has the program on stable ground. Bowl games the last three straight years, winning the last two. You have some tricky games in the schedule. They still have WVU at home. Pitt at home. Those are two very tough games at home. With UConn, they get WVU, Cincinnat and Pitt all at home. This seems like from top to bottom that this is Randy's best team. All five games they lost, all five by 4 points or less. That's pretty impressive. Greg Lloyd, senior DE, is going to redshirt. He'll be back as a fith-year senior in 2011. Keys to their season, Zach Frasier. He needs to step forward and show the accuracy that you need.
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
If his accuracy has improved then he should be able to lead them. Another guy to watch is sophomore DB Belidi Wreh-Wilson. He should have a bright future. They are a nice team.
Submarine Mike (Jackosnville Fl)
Is Noel Devine a sleeper in the Heisman race and is he a possible late 1st rounder
Mel Kiper (1:15 PM)
I think he is a Heisman candidate. I don't think he's a sleeper. He commands leadership in the lockerroom. He has that explosive first step. Pound for pound, he's the best football player in the country. This is a team that has a chance to win the Big East. Geno Smith is the key. He is the next QB in line. If you look at the defense, all three DL are seniors. The defense would be really good. They have two studs on this defense in Chris Neild and Robert Sands, who is clearly their best NFL prospect.
What college teams have the most NFL caliber talent right now?
Mel Kiper (1:17 PM)
North Carolina, when you look at the defense, with three guys with first round caliber talent. Alabama has 3-4 guys with first round talent: Marcel Darius, Mark Ingram, Julio Jones and Mark Barron. Also Dont'a Hightower is off the injury list. Also, Dre Kirkpatrick.
Clay D (NY)
Is AJ Green more than just a physical specimen? Are there any other wide receivers out there that are better pure receivers?
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
He has the height. He just goes up and attacks the football. Best hands of any receiver in college. Tremendous approach. Takes the game very seriously. Great talent. On the Big Board, he's my fourth highest rated player.
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
This is a very good group of receivers. Jon Baldwin, Julio Jones, Michael Floyd. All very gifted.
what team or teams do you think will suprise everyone this year
Mel Kiper (1:22 PM)
Texas A+M, Colorado, Arizona State (if their offense is improved), San Diego State, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Florida State, Maryland will be better, Utah State, Nevada.
The Hamburgler (plotting my next heist)
Ok, we know about Ryan Mallett, but I was wondering if the Arkansas Razorbacks have any other draftable players to watch for this upcoming season?
Mel Kiper (1:24 PM)
DJ Williams. The next best after Mallett is DeMarcus Love, OL. Those would be the main guys.
Which team will hurt the most from losing players to graduation/NFL last year?
Mel Kiper (1:29 PM)
Alabama on defense. You can't lose what they did, though they have some talent coming back. They lost three corners and a safety, Rolando McClain. Florida, losing Tebow is significant. In addition to Riley Cooper and Aaron Hernandez. Tebow was one of the top 5 college players of all time. Florida had significant losses. Penn State on defense got hit hard. All three LBs and the rest of their front seven got hit hard. Texas' defense got hit hard. Any time you lose Kindle, Houston, Thomas. They have some good players stepping in, but they lost some big time players. Kansas had some big losses. QB, both WRs, Jake Sharp. TCU's defense. Jerry Hughes, Washington, two studs on defense.
Dave (New Jersey)
What are the pro prospects of Scarlet Knights like Mo Sanu and Tom Savage? Is Savage a possible Flacco type?
Mel Kiper (1:32 PM)
Savage is only a sophomore. Definitely a big league arm. Throws great from the pocket. He could be an outstanding college QB. No question about that. He was a top recruit. He has to be the star that stirs the drink. He has to be the guy that elevates this team. Rutgers is at home against NC. That's a good game. He has some weapons. Sanu is a big play guy. Jefferson, the TE. He's 6-6, 258 and a former high school QB. Turner as a true freshman RB, they really like him. Last year the OL struggled in pass protection. All of their skill people are sophomores or freshman. Martinek is solid as a junior RB.
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
From a pro prospect, their DB Leseged is a 5th rounder. Their best players are young.
Scott (Simpsonville SC)
South Carolina thoughts on the season? 7-5, 8-4? Assuming of course that the O-line plays average at best.
Mel Kiper (1:35 PM)
The key is going to be Stephen Garcia. He has to improve. He has to be consistent. Until he can prove that he can go out there and make decisions and be consistent, they're going to be a very average team. They were 7-6 last year, losing their bowl game. In 6 of their last 7 games, they scored 16 points or less. That's not getting it done. Last year, they had 8 games where they scored 16 points or fewer. They're lucky they won as many games as they did. The key is Garcia. He has to step it up. Connor Shaw is a true freshman and he's going to play. And, of course Saunders has been suspended. Marcus Lattimore at RB. Stephon Gilmore and Matthews leads the talent on defense. The key to the season, their defense is going to be very good, is Garcia and the OL.
Mel Kiper (1:36 PM)
I thought South Carolina was going to be a good football team, but I have some concerns now, especially with the Saunders situation. I could see 7-5 again. Same regular season as last year.
Mel, what do you think Matthew Stafford's ceiling is?
Mel Kiper (1:38 PM)
Oh, through the roof. He looks a lot like John Elway throwing the football. When I saw him coming out of Stanford and the ball jumped out of his arm. I haven't seen an arm like that until Stafford. There are other guys that have had very good arms, but when you combine leadership and toughness, Stafford has that Elway toughness.
Anthony (NYC: NY)
Mel, what happened to Matt Leinart? He just seem to be so out of sync which you wouldn't expect out of a 4th or 5th year player. Especially a qb that's been sitting on a bench to learn. He just looks lost at the game the other night. What were your reports on him when he came out of USC?
Mel Kiper (1:42 PM)
He's not playing for his original coach. That's always a problem with young QBs. The coach that drafted him was Dennis Green. Then Todd Haley was the OC and he left. He had that good Monday night game against the Bears. Then last year he came in and played well when Warner was hurt. Matt's body language needs to change. Look like your confident, know what you are doing. Even if you're scared, don't let them see that. You can't let the players know there is any concern. I would just like him to show more fire and enthusiasm. I understand you need to think and be cerebral and be calm, but at times you can be too calm. He needs to play. He needs to have some success and get some confidence. I don't think the players on the offense believe in him yet. I say let him play three quarters or the entire game. You know what Derek Anderson can do, let Leinart play more.
billy bob (kansas)
Do you think after all that masoli has been through do you think he will start for ole miss this season
Mel Kiper (1:44 PM)
I think he's going to be one of their QBs. He will be in the mix. They're counting on him having a real good year. He had a real good scrimmage Aug. 21. If the play breaks down, he's quick and can make things happen. He can throw on the run. Nathan Stanley is a pro style, drop back passer. Early in the year, I think you'll see both of these guys. Once one guy takes charge and settles in, you'll see that guy more. I think Masoli has to be the guy longterm this year, but initially, I think you'll see both guys out there.
Paul (Sacramento, CA)
Mel, I know obviously it's way too early to ask this question.... but what do you see in Matt Barkley? A future NFL QB? A #1 overall pick? a 7th round pick?
Mel Kiper (1:47 PM)
I think he's got a chance to be a first round pick. He's got his weight down. he was around 232 last year, and now he's down to 220. He has a strong arm. Real good awareness. Good feel for the game. The problem for USC is the OL. It really has to come together this year. You have Ronald Johnson, Bradford, O'Dowd. Veterans around him. It's only his sophomore year. They can't go to a bowl for two years. They had a couple of recruits leave to go elsewhere. There's no question that he has a chance to be a first round draft pick.
Ryan (Medford, OR)
Mel, any Oregon players gonna go early? I like Jeff Maehl as a dependable guy but I know he doesn't have the measurables but he was very, very dependable.
Mel Kiper (1:49 PM)
No question. He's probably a guy that you look at and he's going to be draftable as a very good player. He came there as a DB. He just gives you everything he has. Just a good WR. The best players, from the senior standpoint, they don't have a lot of top guys. The three guys in the front seven, Rowe, Paysinger, Matthews are your tops guys in the senior class.
Which QB/WR duo is the best in the big '12?
Mel Kiper (1:51 PM)
Good question. I like Landry Jones to Ryan Browles at Oklahoma. Johnson to Fuller at Texas A+M. Those would be the two best ones.
Cliff (Seattle, WA)
Mel, What round do you see Jacquizz Rodgers go in?
Mel Kiper (1:53 PM)
He's good. He's only a junior. We had Mike Riley on the radio show this past Saturday and asked him that question. He said he's Sproles. He's short, not small. Powerful kid. You just can't find him. The defense can't get good angles on him. He's just a dynamic offensive player. He's my third highest rated underclassmen RB that's draft eligible.
Mel, any players from Nebraska you are keeping your eye on besides Crick and Amukamarra? Plus what do you think about Nathan Enderle from Idaho?
Mel Kiper (1:55 PM)
Amukamarra could be a top 10 pick next year. He's my 6th highest player on the Big Board. Crick won't have Suh playing next to him any more. He's my 2nd junior DT. Niles Paul, senior WR; Mike McNeil, senior H-back; Roy Helu, senior RB; Alex Henery, senior PK; Pierre Allen, senior DE; Keith Williams, senior OG; Erik Hagg, senior S. Those would be the guys.
chris (Thomson, GA)
Hey Mel, what do you think of Ryan Kerrigan out of Purdue?
Mel Kiper (1:57 PM)
Like him a lot. He almost made my top 25. He's like my 27th player on the Big Board. Excellent player. Very smart. Very workmanlike. He had a foot injury and appears now to be around 100%. Very athletic. Team leader. I think he's probably a late 1, early 2.
Keith H (Seattle)
Do you think Jake Locker is the real deal or simply physically talented?
Mel Kiper (1:59 PM)
He's the real deal and he's a physically talented kid. You're talking about a kid that looks like a LB and he runs in the 4.4 range. You have a big QB with a LB frame. He's also a very, very, very humble kid. He's a great face of the organization. He's a "We" and "Us" guy. He realizes that this team hasn't been to a bowl in 8 years. He accomplished a lot last year, but the team went 5-7. I think he gets it. If he's not the No. 1 pick in the draft this year, it would be an upset.
Mel Kiper (2:00 PM)
We covered a lot of ground. We're entering the third week of the NFL preseason, finally. We have two preseason games too many. The college football season kicks off 8 days from now. Can't wait until it all starts.