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 (1:02 PM)
We have some big games in college football this week. Last week we had Jake Locker failing his test against Nebraska. This week we have Ryan Mallet against that good Alabama defense. We have Andrew Luck going into South Bend to face that good, not great, Notre Dame defense.
So, how much money has Locker cost himself with his play so far this season?
Mel Kiper (1:04 PM)
It's still too early to tell. I made this point in my Personnel Points on ESPN.com, you're never as good as your best game and never as bad as your worst. He has the instincts for the position, but his game management, precise passing is not where it needs to be. You can't blame it on the players around him, because he has talent around him. And I respect Bo Pelini, but this is college. And it was a home game. Now, I'm not going to kill him, but I moved him from first on my Big Board to 4. He has a chance to go up against Arizona and Stanford with their good QBs. And Barkley at USC. He'll have a chance to reestablish himself. His stocked has dropped. As far as money, if he drops out of the top 5, that's a significant drop.
Is Carolina playing Clausen too early?
Mel Kiper (1:07 PM)
I think all of these QBs play too early. But you have to adjust your whole thought process in this era of the NFL. That thought process changed in the 2000's. You always had QBs learn on the sidelines and you'd have one or two guys that play right away. But now everyone is playing early. I thought Matt Moore might hold on until Week 8. But Jimmy has always been a pro style guy. But you have to stay with him the whole year. When St. Louis went with Sam Bradford, they are going to go with him the whole year. Now, with Clausen, they have to do the same. They'll have their ups and downs. You hope they survive physically.
Steven (San Diego)
Hey Mel, How much has Kaepernick's draft stock risen based on the start of the season? His arm motion is still a little long, but is accuracy rating is dramatically improved and he has been making NFL throws to start the season.
Mel Kiper (1:09 PM)
He's an interesting guy. He doesn't look picture perfect out there, but he gets it to where it needs to be. He has the size to see the field. He runs the ball. Right now, he's my 6th highest rated QB. He's a guy you look at and aren't too sure about him, but when you watch him, he produces. We've brought it up before the Nevada is going to be a tough team and will be for Boise State later in the year.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
What do you know about Max Hall of the Cardinals? Do you think the Cards groom him or use their first rounder next year to nab a QB?
Mel Kiper (1:11 PM)
It seems like Whisenhunt really likes Hall. They also have John Skelton, who they drafted. He has a lot of physical ability. The thing with Hall is that he doesn't have great size, small hands. But he had a great career at BYU. He's an underrated athlete. Very competitive. Very smart. That's what they've seen, his competitiveness. He's a mature kid, he's 25. The question that you have to ask is he like Jake Delhomme or more like Kurt Warner. There have been some very successful QBs that went undrafted in this league.
Is Locker that bad or Nebraska's D that good? He looked unprepared and made awful decisions. How bad does this hurt his prospects?
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
It's easy to say it was a combination of both. I just think that Locker had a bad day. Nebraska's defense going in was a given. It has an outstanding secondary and defensive line play. You knew Locker would be up against it, but I never thought he'd go 4-20. Not what you'd expect from a veteran senior QB. He could be in the NFL right now. Bradford is playing in St. Louis right now. Clausen held is own in the fourth quarter last week. Locker couldn't hold his own on his home field against a college defense.
What in the world is going on with Joe Flaco???
Mel Kiper (1:17 PM)
I don't think right now he's mechanically sound throwing the football. He's like a golfer whose swing is a little off. His mechanics are a little off. He doesn't look fluid throwing the ball. That's effecting his accuracy. He's adjusting to new receivers - Boldin, Houshmanzadeh, Dixon. Preseason doesn't give you a chance to get your timing down. Teams don't use the preseason games effectively. I've said it before that the first 2-3 weeks of the regular season are glorified preseason games. But if they don't win this game against Cleveland by 17-20 points, then I would red flag this team. Four of their first 6 games are on the road and four of their last 6 are at home. So the schedule makers didn't help them here in the beginning of the season. The Ravens have to come out and show their superiority right away. It should be a 27-6 kind of game. The Ravens have to score over 24 in this game.
Marques Phillips (Utica, NY)
Mel,Why is Jacory Harris not a serious prospect? Seems to have a lot of tools and productivity.
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
He has tools, but he hasn't been consistent. He struggled against Ohio State. They've been off. They haven't played since Sept. 11. They play Thursday against Pitt. He should have some success against Pitt. He should be able to bounce back. He has to play better. If Miami is going to have a good year, Harris has to step it up and play better.
Ben (Baton Rouge, LA)
How about your boys Cutler and Martz in Chicago? Playoff team?
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
So far, so good. When credit is due, I try to give it and it's due to them in Chicago and Cutler. The OL is still an issue, but Mike Martz is a great offensive mind. When Shanahan had Cutler, look at what he did for Shanahan. Mike Martz is also a great offensive mind. He puts QBs in their comfort zone. He uses the RB in the passing game. He's helped mask the problems in the OL, by having Cutler get the ball out early. I give them credit. They should have lost to Detroit, but they came back and beat Dallas. They have Green Bay this week, so this game will tell us a lot. They don't necessarily have to win this game, but at least play them close. After this, their next four games aren't brutal. Then they come out of their bye at Buffalo, so really their next 5 games aren't brutal. They have a chance to rack up some wins, but the schedule after that has some tough games. New England, Jets, Minnesota, Green Bay. The schedule gets tougher later in the year.
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
They look like a playoff team right now. I don't know if they'll beat out Green Bay for the division. This could very easily be a playoff team. But I don't want to react too much to the Dallas game.
Mel, thoughts on UF, specifically Brantley? Just progressing slower then we thought or is this showing his flaws?
Mel Kiper (1:26 PM)
I think he played better last week. He's progressing at his own pace. They improved the center-QB exchange. He had some receivers playing well. That was a good win last week. The fake punt was a good play there. This Kentucky game is tough. Cobb is one of the bet all purpose guys in the country. Kentucky has some athletes. Then they face Alabama and LSU. Brantley is improving, and I want to see how he does against Kentucky, Alabama and LSU over the next three weeks.
How far does Marvin Austin fall in this years draft assuming he doesn't play at all this season with UNC?
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
That's a hard one to call. Quinn, Little, Austin, all of those UNC players. We'll have to see how it all shakes down. Dez Bryant didn't play last year and he dropped to the mid first. That's a huge impact. It majorly effects their draft position. The thing with Austin, he had not yet become a consistently dominant performer. This was the year you hoped he took it to another level. It's bigger for Austin then for Quinn. Quinn's a freakish athlete and potentially good pass rusher. It this is it for Austin, his junior film won't knock people over.
Whose stock has risen and fallen the most since the start of this College Football season?
Mel Kiper (1:31 PM)
That's a good question. The risers would be Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU; Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue; Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson; Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State; Lance Kendricks, TE, Wisconsin; Drake Nevis, DT, LSU; Kelvin Sheppard, LB, LSU; Ryan Browles, WR, Oklahoma; David Paulson, TE, Oregon; JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin; Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn; Brandon Burton, CB, Utah.
Mel Kiper (1:34 PM)
As far as dropping the most ... Nate Solder, OT, Colorado; Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU; Jake Locker, QB, Washington; Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A-M; Wesley Saunders, TE, South Carolina; Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech; Chris Galippo, LB, USC.
Andrew (Atwater Ca) [via mobile]
Who should start for Oakland Campbell or Bruce?
Mel Kiper (1:35 PM)
Right now you have to stick with Gradkowski. He's shown more of a spark. He's shown more of a take charge, enthusiastic approach. He's not perfect. He threw that interception late. He's kind of like a Jeff Garcia type. Campbell just has to pick it up. Show some energy. Doing a better job of going through his progressions, seeing the defense. The good thing for that offense is Darren McFadden.
Parker (Reno, NV)
Mel, what did you think of Alex Smith on Monday night?
Mel Kiper (1:37 PM)
I thought he looked very good. He showed that spark that you want. He showed some mobility. He got the ball to the right receivers. He did a nice job. I think that bodes well for the 49ers. They're at KC and that's a must win for them.
Mel Kiper (1:38 PM)
They've had a hard schedule to start the season. Three of the first four on the road and one of them is on Monday night against the Super Bowl champs. That's brutal.
Casey (Santa Clarita, CA)
Mel, Has Tebow looked better than you though?
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
I thought he had a decent preseason. But the preseason is what it is. You see a lot of vanilla defenses. He did OK. He showed that he still has the elongated delivery. I still think he's a special package QB. And I still believe that you can use him as an H-back. I see him as a guy who you can put him out there and have him catch the ball a little bit.
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
Joe Theismann was a punter early in his career. An athlete like that, you can get him involved in a lot of different ways. He's not going to be your QB this year, Orton is.
Matt (New York, NY)
Mel, how good has the Michigan OL been? Do you see NFL potential in Schilling and Molk?
Mel Kiper (1:42 PM)
Schilling has a chance as a backup. He has some versatility. He might be overmatched as a starter. Molk doesn't have great size. He's the fifth highest rated junior center, but his size will be an issue. And Robinson takes some pressure off of that OL. It's like what Michael Vick has done for the Eagles, in taking pressure off the OL.
Mel, what position is the deepest as of now for the upcoming draft?
Mel Kiper (1:45 PM)
I think the DE position is loaded. You can make an argument that by next week I will have 7 DEs in the top 15. That's unbelievable. This is the year of the DE. Also, CB. If a lot of the junior CBs and safeties decide to come out early, the secondary will be strong.
How troubling is it with Michael Floyd's tendency to fumble? There's been at least a couple of instances this season where he coughed up the ball way too easily.
Mel Kiper (1:47 PM)
He's a talent. He has a lot of ability. What they're trying to do now is have Crist make his reads. Crist missed some time against Michigan and you see that he's still a little raw, little green. He's still trying to feel his way into the QB position. He has ability, he's just inexperienced. Floyd will be a key component. He's a nightmare in the red zone. They have a lot of weapons. I have no concerns about Floyd. He's a talented kid.
What is going on with USC's offense? I know of the defensive struggles, but what has limited their offensive success?
Mel Kiper (1:49 PM)
I think they're trying to find their right personnel pieces. They're trying to find the right back to lean on. Johnson is an excellent WR. They have a developing standout for them in Ellison.
Mel, how many draft ready players are we going to see on the field in the Arkansas-Alabama game Saturday? My number is up to 16...
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
Draft eligible guys on the field for Saturday: 8 for Arkansas; 11 for Alabama. 19 total.
Hey Mel-how high are you on the Rodgers brothers out of Oregon State. Are either 1st rounders?
Mel Kiper (1:52 PM)
Size is the issue for James, and same for Jacquizz. But Jacquizz is a RB/return man. He'll be a change of pace guy. James will be a slot guy. Size will work against both, but they're both very versatile and gamechangers. Jacquizz, I have as my third highest rated junior RB.
Does Arizona have a chance at beating Oregon and winning the Pac-10 or is that just no going to happen?
Mel Kiper (1:55 PM)
Arizona has a chance. They have a good football team. They have to play at Oregon though. Oregon at home is a tough team to beat. I like Oregon better than anybody in the Pac 10. Arizona has improved more than anybody. I like how they get after you upfront. Their secondary has some playmakers. Offensively, Foles has improved. That will be a great game. And Arizona at Stanford will be another great game. USC at Arizona, yet another one. Three of Arizona's final four games are tough.
Pat (Baton Rouge)
Mel, Patrick Peterson has garnered attention for his special teams play this year, but he seems to be a pretty lock-down corner (dating back to last year) and had a couple of freakishly-athletic interceptions last week. Where do you put him amongst draft-eligible CBs? Overall?
Mel Kiper (1:57 PM)
He's right now the second highest behind Prince Amukamara. Peterson's my No. 7 player overall. Burton, Harris, Jenkins, Williams are the juniors behind Peterson in the junior class. He has the size, the long arms, he's athletic. He has good ball skills. He has the chance to be one of the first few players off the board if he comes out early.
Mel- are the Bills kicking themselves for not drafting a QB in last years draft?
Mel Kiper (2:00 PM)
They may have a chance to get one this year. Where they were picking last year, they didn't have a chance to get Bradford. If I were the Bills and had a chance for Jimmy Clausen in the second round, I would have done that. He went a few picks after they picked in the second round. This year, if they have the first pick in the draft, they'll be looking at Luck, Locker and Mallett. But they have to define if they're worthy of the first pick or not. Obviously, that's where they have to go in the draft. I don't see a quality QB on this roster right now. We'll see how it shakes down, but it's obvious that they need a QB.
Mel Kiper (2:01 PM)
Thanks for the questions. We covered a lot of ground today. We'll be back again next week to do it all over again.