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've got Mel!
Mel, what is your take on the Calvin Johnson play from Sunday and should something be looked at or changed?
Mel Kiper (1:03 PM)
Yeah, I think it should be looked at. I don't know about changed. The players know the rule. Calvin Johnson should be more aware of that. He's not a rookie. You have to maintain possession all of the way through. Those receivers know what the rule is. This is not the first time this has happened. But he needs to be aware of what he needs to do. The rule is what it is. I would look at it, but it doesn't mean you have to change it. Any job you have, you know the rules of that job and situation.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Hi Mel, Where does Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray fall on your draft board?
Mel Kiper (1:04 PM)
He's a guy that I think will be in the second round mix. The issue is can he stay healthy. Both of his injuries during the year came on special teams. They're going to try and hold him back on special teams. He made some outstanding catches down the field. He's not a swing pass, dump off pass kind of guy. He has a real good feel for the passing game. He just has to stay healthy all year and prove it. He's in the second round mix.
Mel Kiper (1:04 PM)
He's a first round talent, but RBs always drop.
Do you project any Utah Utes getting drafted in the first few rounds of next year's draft?
Mel Kiper (1:05 PM)
Brandon Burton is their top prospect, junior CB. Sealver Siliga, junior DT, is a very good player. Those would be the top two.
Markel Keys (Erie, PA)
What's up Mel? Does LT have another 1,000+ yard season in him?
Mel Kiper (1:08 PM)
I don't know about a 1,000 yard season, but he got off to a nice start. The key for the Jets isn't LT but Shonn Greene. He fumbled and he had some issues with catching the ball. Sanchez hit him right between the 2 and 3. You can't ask for anything more. Thomas Jones has always been an underrated back. He's solid. He's been the best journeyman RB I can ever remember. He was a top 10 pick coming out of Virginia. That's a huge loss for the Jets. They don't have Leon Washington any more. I don't have any concerns about LT. He's a professional. He's a future Hall of Famer.
Sam (Boulder, CO)
Who will be the best strong safety prospect in next year's draft?
Mel Kiper (1:09 PM)
I would say the best safety prospect will probably end up being from the junior class. Rahim Moore from UCLA, Mark Barron from Alabama, Robert Sands, WVU are the top three.
Tyler (Cedar Rapids IA)
What do you think about iowa's QB Ricky Stanzi and chances to be a nfl starter
Mel Kiper (1:11 PM)
Stanzi, I've seen a lot of him. What he is is a winner. He's 24-4 as a starter at Iowa. What he has to do this year is be solid from the first quarter through the fourth. Last year, he would struggle in the first half and then lead his team to victories. He's a winner. He has a good feel for this offense. They have a good receiving core. They have a good OL. He's not going to wow you over with his physical prowess. Good solid college QB.
Nathan (Coralville, IA)
I'm a die hard Bears fan who was really surprised by their solid play against a much improved Lions team. Could the Bears be for real?
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
If Matthew Stafford plays that whole game, they don't win. I wasn't the impressed. Stafford was playing a nice game. The big play was at the end of the first half when Forte gets the little slip screen and runs 90 yards for a TD. That turned the whole ball game around. Stafford gets hurt. But then after all of that, the Bears have to hold on to win. And with that kind of game, Cutler has great stats, but they barely win the game.
Mel Kiper (1:14 PM)
So, no, I'm not ready to say the Bears are for real. We'll see what they're made of this week. Dallas is struggling. This is a matchup where the Bears should be able to get after the QB. They are at Dallas, then Green Bay and then at the Giants. We'll see what they really are the next three weeks.
Mel, who's your top 5 overall for 2011 NFL Draft right now after week 2?
Mel Kiper (1:16 PM)
1) Jake Locker; 2) Andrew Luck; 3) Robert Quinn; 4) AJ Green; 5) Adrian Clayborn and 5a) Prince Amukamara.
Markel Keys (Erie, PA)
Denard Robinson is the next Vick. Do you think he could be better than Vick and does Denard have an good NFL arm?
Mel Kiper (1:19 PM)
First of all, he has an NFL arm. His passing has improved. Everyone seemed to think in Ann Arbor that he was going to improve his passing skills. His running skills were evident. He's incredibly quick, incredibly explosive. He's one of the best multi-dimensional QBs. He has a chance to be spectacular. If not for Robinson, Michigan doesn't beat Notre Dame. He's only a sophomore. He's only about 5-11. He's not going to be an NFL QB. Randle-El moved to WR. Pat White didn't make it as a QB. Size will work against him. He's going to have to have a position change.
D. Schwab (Raleigh)
Why is Notre Dame NOT getting the ball to Michael Floyd?!
Mel Kiper (1:20 PM)
He's a great weapon. Rudolph is as well. He'll be involved throughout the year. They'll see the football a lot. Crist wasn't in there for much of the last game. He had the injury.
Mel, where does Christian Ponder fall on your draft board?
Mel Kiper (1:21 PM)
He's the second highest rated senior QB, but there are a lot of juniors that will move ahead of him. Right now, he would be my fifth-highest rated QB in the NFL draft. Oklahoma's defense got the best of FSU. The three stars on that defense Lewis, Carter and Beal all played well. Ponder doesn't have the great arm, but he has got the size, the intelligence, the accuracy. He has a chance to be in the second or third round mix.
Markel Keys (Erie, PA)
Do you think Jeff Demps from Florida could run a faster 40 than Chris Johnson?
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
I would never say that, no. I would never say anyone is faster than Chris Johnson. Demps had a spectacular 62-yard TD run. He showed great balance to stay on his feet. At USF's 40, it looked like he was going to get tripped up, but he stayed on his feet and scored. Up until that point, he only had 3 carries for 13 yards. He's certainly one of the fastest players in college.
What does Andrew Luck need to improve upon?
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
Just continue to be precise with the football. Work on his timing with his receivers. He has some guys who can catch the football. They're fine in the backfield to replace Gerhart. Stepsan Taylor looks like he's going to be a nice back for them. Luck is a competitor. Keep working on his timing. Other than that, this kid is a big time player. He's a super elite QB.
how will the UNC suspensions hurt the players stock in the draft
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
That remains to be seen. As a senior, if you miss games, you miss opportunities. But it's too early to tell how this will shake down at UNC.
Greg (Salt Lake City)
Is Matt Reynolds (BYU OT) a future top 10 pick?
Mel Kiper (1:27 PM)
He's a potential first round pick. He's my highest rated junior OT. When you look at him as we move along, yeah, he could be. He has the chance to be. He's a first round caliber player. He's very technically sound. Very experienced. Very mature kid. He can do a good job for them. As far as an NFL bookend OT, he's what you look for.
Mel when people ask about if a player will go in the top 10, how much of it is how the draft order shakes out and how much is the player's actual skill level?
Mel Kiper (1:29 PM)
It's a combination. If you're so good, teams will take you over top need. You win out over need. But sometimes need does dictate that. Talent won out with Buffalo last year at No. 9 and CJ Spiller. They took him even though they had two other backs there. Joe Haden filled a need for Cleveland at CB. Washington filled a need with Trent Williams. Jacksonville forced a pick with need with Alualu. Sometimes need wins out. Sometimes it's a best player on the board. 9 times out of 10 teams are drafting because of need. But the kids have to be rated highly.
What kind of pro does LaMichael James project to be? Also, how good do the Oregon Ducks look this year?
Mel Kiper (1:31 PM)
That was impressive by the Ducks. They were 13-13 at half and won 48-13. They have a lot of athletes. I have a lot of respect for Chip Kelly. Their offense has scored points. James is only a sophomore, but he has great speed. They wanted him to work on becoming more of a passing catching option out of the backfield. He's big time.
Mel Kiper (1:32 PM)
Oregon has a ton of talent on this team. In Darron Thomas at QB, he looks like a clone of Dennis Dixon. With that, Oregon has a chance to be right there. They have to be the favorite to win the Pac-10 in my mind.
Other than QB what position is hardest project sucess at the NFL level?
Mel Kiper (1:36 PM)
Defensive tackles are very hard to project into the NFL. We've found CB pretty difficult to evaluate. They're going up against guys they can physically handle, but that changes going into the NFL. Revis and Asomugh, the two best CBs in the NFL, weren't top 10 picks. WRs as well. Think about the NFL and the way it is now. Cribbs went undrafted. Driver was a late round pick. Ochocinco was a second round pick. Owens was a third round pick. Boldin a second round pick. Ward wasn't a high round pick. DeSean Jackson was a second round pick. Steve Smith was a 3-4 round guy. Brandon Marshall was a fourth round pick. My point is that a lot of the guys that went in the first haven't had as much success as some of the later guys.
Mel Kiper (1:36 PM)
But by far, the easiest position to evaluate is RB. It's the only position where you can play as well as a rookie as you can as a five year veteran.
Mel, you mentioned Jeremy Beal and Travis Lewis from Oklahoma. Are either a future first round pick?
Mel Kiper (1:37 PM)
Yeah, I think they both could be. They're highly regarded players. Beal is a senior and Lewis is a junior. He's my second highest rated junior LB. And Beal is my fifth highest senior DE. They're both first round caliber.
How do you think Arkansas will do this weekend against a Georgia team that's desperate?
Mel Kiper (1:41 PM)
Georgia is between the hedges. They'll be in a very firey mood, after that game against Vanderbilt. The key play in the game was the fumble with SC down 14-6. That fumble prevented Georgia from getting back into that football game. Arkansas had two cupcakes right out of the box. Now they get their first test. Georgia is much more battle tested. Not having Green on Georgia is a huge problem. Aaron Murray for Georgia was only 4-8 for 32 yards in the first half. In the third quarter alone, he was 7-8 for 101 yards, just before the fumble. Murray needs AJ Green. That's an unfortunate situation with Green at Georgia.
Even though the Bengals got stomped by the pats this week do you think they are still contenders?
Mel Kiper (1:43 PM)
I think they're contenders, they have a lot of talent. My question has always been, is it too many me and I guys? If you have too many of those kinds of guys, it's hard to win as a team. Is this a team unified to try and win a championship? They all talk about wanting to win, but can they come together? This is a critical game for them. I won't say anything early is a must-win, but this is a big game. Baltimore would go to 2-0 and they would fall to 0-2 if they lose. But they should at least by 3-2 going into the bye. But after the bye, they have a hard schedule.
Victor A (Temecula, CA)
Have about those Northwestern Wildcats, small school competing in a big conference. Where do you think they will finish this year? any NFL prospects?
Mel Kiper (1:48 PM)
They have had a nice start, but they've had a nice schedule. They had a hard fought victory against Vanderbilt. Illinois State and now Rice. They could run to 6-0 when they host Michigan State for homecoming on Oct. 23. Al Netter is their top guy as a junior OT. Quentin Davie, senior OLB. Persa has done a nice job as the new QB. He's a strong athlete. Adequate passer. Fastest QB they've had. Tremendous running threat. Michigan and OSU are not on their schedule. Their last two years they've played their best football in November. This year they have PSU, Iowa and Wisconsin in November. If they can get to 6-0, they could very easily win 8-9 games. Pat Fitzgerald is a heckuva coach.
Mel Kiper (1:48 PM)
One other guy to throw in there is Corbin Bryant, senior DT. Jeremy Ebert, junior WR, is another guy I like. Very good athlete. QB in high school. Very solid player.
Terrelle Pryor has looked impressive this season. What does he need to improve on to be a legitimate top pick in the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
The main thing he has to work on is his passing. He's made strides in that area. His mechanics appear to have gotten better. He has some receivers that can catch the ball and get open. He's trying to build on the Oregon game from the bowl game. He's showing his patience. He's seeing the field better. As a QB at the college level, he's an outstanding player. He has a chance to be a heckuva player.
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
He's my fifth-highest rated junior QB.
Is Royster from PSU going to be a 5th or 6th round pick with his recent performances???
Mel Kiper (1:51 PM)
Royster, to me, is not a dynamic game-breaker type. He has very good vision. He's patient. He'll find a crease and find a way to get yards. You wonder if in the NFL his style will work. He's a solid college RB. Pro wise, I think there are some limitations there. PSU has to get this running game going to help out the young QB.
Tegue Rupp (Erie, PA)
Your favorite sleeper in the 2011 Draft?
Mel Kiper (1:56 PM)
A couple of guys fall into that category. Ben Ijalana, OL, Villanova; Larrone Moore, WR, Delaware State; Matt Szczur, WR, Villanova; Christian Anthony, Grambling; Mark LeGree, S, Appalachian State; Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware.
Samson (eastern NC)
What kind of impact will SD's rookie rb make Mel?
Mel Kiper (1:57 PM)
He can have a huge impact. He'll block. He's an adequate receiver. Great in short yardage. Great body lean. Great instincts as a runner. Mathews has a lot of ability. He can have a huge impact as a rookie.
Mel Kiper (1:59 PM)
I appreciate all of the questions. We'll have another outstanding week in college and the NFL. I'll be keeping a close eye on Nebraska at Washington. The best CB tandem in college against Jake Locker. Iowa at Arizona. From an evaluation standpoint, there will be some good matchups. And a sleeper game, Clemson at Auburn. Wisconsin will have some interesting matchups. Cal at Nevada on Friday will be interesting. Colin Kaepernick, QB from Nevada, I want to see him. And Cameron Jordan for Cal, I want to see him. We also get to see Dontay Moch the pass rusher from Nevada. One of the games of the weekend on Friday night.