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 Kiper (1:01 PM)
We're ready to get started. I've fielded more calls today than I did a week before the draft. I wonder why.
Where do you think Noel Devine rates as an NFL prospect?
Mel Kiper (1:02 PM)
Right now, he's the fourth highest senior RB on my Big Board. He's a situational complementary back in the NFL. He's probably a 3-4 round guy.
Mark (Pgh, PA)
I would like to hear your thoughts on Hall (Cards Qb); not drafted and now a starter. Any chance he can succeed? Thanks
Mel Kiper (1:05 PM)
In his draft report, I gave him a 6th round grade. He's 25 years old, that helps him, from a maturity standpoint and adjusting to the pro game. He was brought up in the BYU system. Smart guy. Timing, touch passer. Not a strong arm, but a good athlete. As a junior, he completed almost 70% of his passes. As a senior, he completed 67% of his passes. He's competitive. Ken Whisenhunt has taken this kid from the get-go. It's nice to see. He could be a season savior for Arizona.
Donovan Puyallup, WA [via mobile]
With the ups and downs of Jake Lockers season so far, how high do you think he will get drafted?
Mel Kiper (1:06 PM)
Right now, he's 7 on the Big Board. I still think he's an early to mid first round draft grade. His skill level and potential still warrants him being drafted in the 7-15 area. He's not going to help you as a rookie, very few QBs do. With a ton of talent and upside, he'll be an intriguing pick.
What is your opinion on the UNC kids? Where does Austin, Williams, Burney and Quinn now go in the draft w/out a senior year?
Mel Kiper (1:07 PM)
Quinn is the most intriguing of the group, because I thought he was the second best player of the draft, if he had played. Now I dropped him to 5. I don't see a freakish talent like Quinn dropping past the 10-15 range.
Mel Kiper (1:08 PM)
Austin really needed to play this year. He wasn't coming off of a great 2009 campaign. He was solid, not great. I think it hurts him more than Quinn. Now Austin becomes a borderline first round pick.
Erick (l.a.) [via mobile]
Are u still as high on Jimmy clausen as u were during the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:11 PM)
I thought he played OK in the second half of his first start against Cincinnati. I thought he played OK overall against New Orleans. Last week, he played horribly. He played like a rookie. Fortunately, now, they have a bye. Against Chicago last week, he was playing with two rookie WRs and a rookie QB. That had never happened before in the NFL. And neither of the WRs starting were a first or second round pick. I saw John Elway struggle mightly as a rookie and he was the greatest player I've ever seen. What you have to do as a rookie is give them a year long mulligan. If anyone thinks a rookie is going to play like Marino or Big Ben or Flacco or Ryan, that's not going to happen. That's catching lightning in a bottle. I still have high hopes for Jimmy. Anybody's opinion of Clausen, whether you like him or not can't be effected by how he plays as a rookie.
Any clarifications that you would like to make on the agent story, just to set the record straight?
Mel Kiper (1:16 PM)
The record is set straight for anyone who has done research on the situation. There is no correlation over the years by me because of my friendship with Gary Wichard. A couple of examples, Jason Taylor, I had him 48 and he went 73. Keith Brooking, I had 5, he went 12. Harrison, I had 7, he went 19. I also had Jacoby Sheppard 146 and he went 62. That same year, William Bartee, I had 117 and he went 54. I had Adam Archuletta 39 and he went 20. In 2002, I had Freeney 21 and he went 11. In 2004, JP Losman, I had him 38 and he went 22. In 1996, I had Cedric Jones 15 and he went 5. It's back and forth. Some of my best calls were some guys that Gary had that I had a higher grade on than the NFL did and vice versa. Back in 1984, my first year at ESPN, I had Boomer Esiason ranked as the No. 3 player in the draft and he went 38. There are numerous other examples. We have to separate fact from fiction. 95% of the guys that I had rated higher than they went in the draft that were Gary's clients turned out to be good players. You can't blame me for that. Heap, Suggs, Brooking, Dumervil, Bullock.
Mel Kiper (1:17 PM)
I also happen to be friends with a lot of agents.
Mike B. (Chippewa Lake, OH)
Though its a very less than ideal match-up, how do you feel about Colt McCoy getting the start this week in Pittsburgh?
Mel Kiper (1:19 PM)
I don't like to see rookie QBs forced in there against teams like the Steelers, with Ben Roethlisberger coming back. But it's a forced thing because of injuries. It's the same thing with Jimmy Clausen. I didn't want to see him on the field until Week 8, 9 or 10. Unfortunately, the schedule says that you have to play the Steelers and to compound matters, they're coming off a bye and a loss. You can't get any worse than that. All I can say to Colt is good luck.
Since you have such a close dealing with agents and players on both the NCAA and NFL level, do you think the NCAA should stay the course, or overhaul its rules to better deal with agent's interaction?
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
I have a lot of different feelings on it. I think you have to question whether a college football coach be represented by an agent who also represents college football players? I don't have an agent, Kim Kiper is my agent and last I checked she doesn't represent players. That's something to think about down the road. Make a rule that says you can't have any, any agent contact with a player until his eligibility has expired or he has declared for the draft. Up until that point, college players are off limits to agents. You can't talk to anyone or have contact with an agent until January. That way you keep agents from talking to players during their college careers. That leads to potential problems. You can try to put some bandaids on the wound, but you're never going to completely heal the wound.
Just wanted to find out where you have Ricky Stanzi being drafted, he seems like he could be a sleeper but I have no idea what the experts are saying.
Mel Kiper (1:24 PM)
I think he's a potential nice later round pick. He's my fifth-highest rated senior QB. He has an opportunity the rest of the way to improve his stock. Michigan on the road, then home to Wisconsin and home to Michigan State. These next three weeks will tell the story about where Iowa is this season.
What's your take when Wichard signs a player after having a call? Is that part true?
Mel Kiper (1:27 PM)
No. There was no call from me. There were no pre-arranged calls. That's not accurate. Gary would call out of the blue, which agents do all the time. They call and say they have a player in their office and ask if I can talk. Sometimes I say yes, or no that I have to go do radio or eating dinner. Then I might call back. But it was a fact finding mission for me. THat's a great way to talk to players. I can get to know them, ask them to be on my radio show. I'm not going to change my mode of operation because of an inaccurate and preposterous report. Facts speak for themselves. This isn't the first year I've been a friend of Gary. I've been a friend of his for almost 30 years.
Mel Kiper (1:29 PM)
A lot of this started in 2005 when a lot of people said I was too high on Pacman Jones and I had him 9th on my board and he went 6th. Then they were quiet. That year, 2 other guys that Gary represented I had a lot lower. All three guys went higher than I had them rated. I know a lot of college coaches that I'm friends with. Does that mean I rank all of their players higher? What purpose would that serve for me? What positive would come out of that?
Any players on Boise States current roster that are NFL type players?
Mel Kiper (1:31 PM)
We'll go through the seniors first. Titus Young, WR. With his return skills, I think he could be a 3-4 rounder. Austin Pettis, WR, a possession type guy in the NFL. Later round possibility. Ryan Winterswyk, DE, could be a backup DE. Jeron Johnson, S, later round pick. From the junior class, Nate Potter, OL, and Billy Winn. Those are just to name a few and there will be several others that could be late rounders.
Did anybody improve his draft stock more this past weekend than FSU's Rodney Hudson? Who does he remind you of?
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
He's an outstanding player. I highlighted him on Personnel Points this weekend. He's been rated my No. 1 interior lineman since August. He has outstanding feet. Gifted athlete. Technically sound. He's just outstanding and fundamentally sound. He did outstanding against Miami. The only thing he lacks is dominating size. He's only 6-2, 283. But the zone blocking teams will be very interested in him. He's on the verge of becoming a top 25 guy. Right now he's at 29. He's one of the best OL in college football at any position.
Julio Jones or A.J Green?
Mel Kiper (1:35 PM)
AJ Green. I like everything about the kid. He's long, athletic. He goes and gets the football. He makes up ground in a hurry. He separates well. He showed his toughness against Janzen Jackson, who's arguably Tennessee's best defensive player. He got hit hard, came back into the game and caught a TD pass. They were 1-3 without him. When Georgia plays, he's the best player on the field. He's the second highest player on my Big Board this week and I think he will be one of the first 2, 3, 4 players chosen.
Nathan (Coralville, IA)
Do you think the Moss trade indicates the Patriots will choose a wide receiver high in April's draft? They'll have the means to trade into just about any slot on the draft board. Who might be on their radar?
Mel Kiper (1:37 PM)
They'll have a lot of other needs. And keep in mind they brought in Branch. They have some picks to address the WR spot. But they have some needs at OL and a huge need at RB. On defense, they could use a pass rushing 3-4 OLB. They could use another 3-4 DL and a DB. There are some other areas and right now they have 7 picks in the first four rounds.
Lou (Rockville, MD)
Where does Evan Royster fall now? His size, quickness, and pass-catching abilities should still be attractive to NFL teams.
Mel Kiper (1:38 PM)
He has to pick up the pace in terms of production. He won't wow you over with great elusiveness or game breaking skills. He's a guy you think about in the later rounds. They have to start righting the ship. They need to get a win. Minnesota is a must win. I could see 6-6 this year. This team has some issues on both sides of the ball.
Darryl (Oakland, CA)
Why isn't Colin Kaepernick on your top 5 senior QBs? What don't you like about him? 6-6, cannon arm, runs a 4.5, starter for 4 years...What's there not to like exactly?
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
He's got size, he's a competitor. Mobility. Strong arm. The thing is that it's an unorthodox delivery. He's not a pure passer. But he does have a strong arm. We'll have to see. Workouts, all star games will be big for him. He's been between my 6-8 highest senior QB.
In a few years, will Alshon Jeffery and Marcus Lattimore of South Carolina be top 10 picks in the NFL?
Mel Kiper (1:48 PM)
They have a chance to be elite players. That's stating the obvious. You look at how supremely physical Jeffry is. He was getting the best of that Alabama defense. He has a chance to be an elite prospect. And certainly Lattimore is a hard nosed runner. He's the best young back in college football and he has a chance to be an elite player.
Rod (Gulf Shores, AL)
What do you think of Cam Newton? Is he good enough to come out this year in the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
I think the jury is still out on that. He hasn't played many games. He played in junior college last year. He's a fourth-year junior. You're talking about an Auburn team that is 6-0 and they still have 6 big games left. They're only halfway through the season. We only saw glimpses of Cam Newton as a true freshman at Florida. They have LSU next week. with Newton, you see running skills, rocket arm. The only issue I have with him is that he takes some risk with his arm in making some throws and he's fortunate that they arne't picked off. We'll see how his decision making evolves.
Mel Kiper (1:51 PM)
Luck, Mallett, Newton are the top 3 underclassmen QBs. Next year at Auburn as a fifth-year senior, he could be ready to establish himself as a top pick.
reid (arlington tx)
Mel big game this weekend with Wisconsin vs Ohio st, who wins the game and the battle between gabe carimi and cameron heyward?
Mel Kiper (1:52 PM)
Heyward is an outstanding run stuffing DE. He's an adequate pass rusher. He'll battle you. In terms of the game, Wisconsin's defense will be overmatched. Offensively, they have the two RBs. But I think OSU can stop them. Wisconsin is a little flawed team. Ohio State is the better team and will win. Wisconsin is in a tough stretch now. They have Iowa next week too.
chris (baltimore) [via mobile]
Mel, what are your thoughts on how Josh Freeman is playing so far and will he and Mike Williams be one of the best qb-wr combos in the nfl in a few years?
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
They've been one of the surprise teams in the NFL so far this year. That's tremendously impressive with their 3-1 record. They have New Orleans, St. Louis. I thought they would win no more than 4-5 games. They're already 3-1. Mike Williams has been one of the steals of the draft. "He has a ton of talent and has the speed to beat you down the field. He put up impressive numbers with subpar QB play at Syracuse" is what I wrote about him in the draft book.
Mel Kiper (1:55 PM)
They're above and beyond where I thought they'd be right now. I thought they'd be 1-3 and they're 3-1. They will exceed my prediction of 4-5 wins.
How would you rate Sam Bradford's rookie season?
Mel Kiper (1:57 PM)
Sam has done well for a rookie. They have Mark Clayton and that was a wise trade for St. Louis. Unfortunately Clayton's out for the year. He didn't play well last week. He's coming off a subpar game against Detroit. For a rookie QB without great talent around him, it will be intersting to see how he plays. I think he's accounted himself very well, especially with the injuries the team has had.
Tim (Antigua, West Indies)
How bad has Ryan Williams draft status been hurt having missed Tech's last few games with a sore hammy?
Mel Kiper (1:59 PM)
You have to remember that he's only a third-year sophomore. He has eligibility remaining. He was in my top 25, but he's been out of it the last few weeks, because he hasn't been performing. You'd think that he's coming back at this point. You don't go into the draft unless you have maximized your ability.
Mel Kiper (2:00 PM)
We covered a lot of ground today. The games I'm keeping a close eye on is Texas-Nebraska, OSU-Wisconsin. But a couple of sleeper games are Illinois-MSU, Cal-USC, Iowa-Michigan, Nevada-Hawaii. Looking forward to an outstanding week of college football. In the NFL, Baltimore-New England, Miami-Green Bay, Dallas-Minnesota. We'll be back next week.