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 (1:02 PM)
We're looking forward to the LSU and TCU games this weekend. To the questions!
Billy (Mobile, AL)
Take the best college team in the last 10 years - say the '04 USC team or the '08 Gators or whomever you like. Would that college team have any shot at beating the worst NFL team?
Mel Kiper (1:05 PM)
No. I've always thought about that question. Great question. An elite college team that has 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 draftable players on the team, but even those teams can't. You're whittling down the best players in the world down to 32 teams. These are the best of the best. There are a lot of guys that are the very best college players that can't even make NFL rosters. No one playing in the NFL is a mediocre college player. There is no DE getting sacks against a red-shirt sophomore that has no shot at the NFL. There aren't those matchups in the NFL. I'm old enough to remember the college all-star team playing an NFL team. They stopped doing that due to the risks.
Who do you think has more NFL talent on their team Boise St or TCU?
Mel Kiper (1:09 PM)
It's pretty much a wash. They're both similar to the personnel they'll be sending to the NFL. There are about 10 players on each roster that they'll be sending to the NFL. Both teams have good QBs, RBs. Both have veteran WRs. Both have one quality OL that will move to the NFL. Both have guys up front on defense that will move on. Overall, it's a pretty even situation. Ironically, these two teams have played in a bowl game. I think Boise State deserves to be ranked ahead of TCU. I'm amazed that everyone's giving TCU the edge. But TCU has the big game against Utah and Boise plays an underrated Hawaii team.
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
This will all shake down when it's all said and down, but I still say at the end of the day, Boise State's body of work will be more impressive.
Why does Boise State keep getting leap frogged?
Mel Kiper (1:11 PM)
I don't know. I guess it's the schedule. People take shots at their schedule. But if you're getting at that, TCU hasn't beaten anyone of consequence. Is Utah a great team? Pitt almost beat them at Utah. I just don't see them why Boise State gets knocked for their schedule. I don't see where the difference is.
Mel Kiper (1:12 PM)
I think Virginia Tech is better than any team TCU is going to play. Nevada is similar to Utah. Hawaii is very similar to Baylor. This will all flush out at the end of the year.
Jeff (Atlanta, GA)
Mel, what is wrong with Jake Locker? Is it possible that he's just not that good of a QB. I mean he has all of the physical tools to be a great QB, but he's been downright awful this year. I can't imagine he's still a 1st round talent.
Mel Kiper (1:14 PM)
He's had injuries. The rib injury and the bumps and bruises that he's had. He's been physically pounded all year. The effect of that is him not playing this week. We're not dealing with Jake Locker at 100%. The most important thing for him will be the Senior Bowl week. There will be no other top QB down there. He will have the stage all to himself. Luck, Mallet, Newton and Gabbert are the other top QBs, but they can't go to the Senior Bowl. That week will make or break him.
Mike (Dallas, TX)
What do you expect in the matchup between Patrick Peterson and Julio Jones? If my memory serves, Julio didn't have any catches on Peterson last year. Will scouts be watching this one closely?
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
It was a different mindset of Alabama last year. They were a brutally tough defense to move the ball on. They didn't have to score a lot of points. Their defense last year was talent laden, with some studs who are playing in the NFL right now. Last year, they didn't give up over 24 points in any game last year. They held 10 opponents to 15 points or less last year. They've held 6 opponents this year to 13 poins or less. Nick Saban is a defensive guru. He's probably one of the best defensive strategists at any level. He's tried to reload that defensive side. They have to attack a little more. Jones is coming off that career game. Peterson is a shut down corner as well as a great return man. Alabama will attack a lot more, because their defense isn't what it was from a personnel standpoint.
Mel Kiper (1:19 PM)
This is an elimination game for Alabama. If they suffer another loss, they're done. And you could say the same for LSU. They both have one loss. If Alabama loses this game, they become a spoiler in the Iron Bowl.
Darryl (Oakland, CA)
I saw Troy Smith last week in London and he looked great. What exactly was the main knock on him coming out of college? Was it just his height? Isn't Drew Brees the same height? Troy Smith looks much better than Alex Smith ever has looked in the one game he played.
Mel Kiper (1:21 PM)
It's a little early to be making final evaluations. It gives him a completely different look. Being precise with the football is an issue. The height is an issue. For every Drew Brees, there are a lot of 6-foot or less QBs that didn't make it. The one thing he gives you is the escapability and the running.
I am a huge Lions fan. It was great to see Stafford back. How close is that team to getting over the hump? Seems like they got a bright future and a good front office for once.
Mel Kiper (1:24 PM)
Very close. I think they were over the hump if Stafford were healthy. Shaun Hill did play well, let's give him credit, but Stafford is elite with his arm strength. Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith are a good running back tandem. They had a couple of drops early in the game, so Stafford's numbers could have been better than they were. On defense, Suh has been extraordinary. They really are a team right now that has a chance. They still need to tweak the back seven a bit. I think next year they could be competing for a divisional title. But I want to see how they play in the remaining games. They have some good evaluation games the rest of the year. I want to see how they play the Jets coming off a loss.
Stevey Nipas CA [via mobile]
Whats up Mel? Have you seen USC True Freshman Robert Woods? Already one of the top recievers in the Pac 10. Whats your opinion as a potential prospect? Comparisons?
Mel Kiper (1:27 PM)
Love the kid. He was one of the guy that I highlighted on our College Football Tonight show. He's one of the top 5 true freshmen. The list: 5) Keenan Allen, Cal, WR; 4) Tony Jefferson, DB, OK; 3) Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami; 2) Robert Woods; 1) Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina. Woods has been excellent. This kid is a quality performer. I think he's been the second best freshman in the country. With Johnson being a senior, he becomes the go-to option for Barkley next year.
Bryan (Alexander City,Alabama)
Has Mark Ingram's lack of production this year hurt his chances as an early entry in the draft this year?
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
He's an outstanding player. They have Trent Richardson there. The whole dynamic Alabama offense has changed this year. He still has a high grade. He reminds me a lot of what Emmitt Smith did in college. The only thing he lacks is game-breaking speed.
jordan (Knoxville TN)
Are the patriots really as good as their record says? I mean they are doing well, but they won in OT against balt and havent faced top teams like the titans, pitt., or the giants. And how will they fare in a rematch against the jets with no Moss? Thanks for answering!
Mel Kiper (1:31 PM)
I had them as my Super Bowl team. Then I saw them in my last two preseason games and switched to Baltimore. I think the Steelers, Patriots, Ravens, Colts, Jets those are your teams in the AFC. It's going to be a great race in the AFC. There are a lot of good teams. There are some young players that have emerged for the Patriots. They have been challenged and could have lost. You will find out a lot about them with their games at Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, rematch with the Jets.
Mel Kiper (1:32 PM)
Danny Woodhead has made contributions as well. We followed him on ESPN on the second day of the draft that year. He's made significant contributions to the Patriots offense.
Gabbert looked to be a lock to jump early his Jr year, now looks to be backsliding, is he a project or someone that could step in a play?
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
I don't see him backsliding. I have been high on him since he came out of high school. He has that great release. The thing that bothered me against Nebraska was I would like for him to wait longer in the pocker. I am very high on him. I think he'll be an outstanding NFL QB.
Alan (Lincoln, NE)
Where do you see Prince Amukamara going in the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:34 PM)
He's a highly rated player. Despite the struggles in the first half of the OK State game, he's my No. 1 CB. He will battle Peterson to be the best CB in the draft. The edge Peterson has is that he's a great return man.
Mel,what is your take on Colt McCoy's performance to date? Thanks.
Mel Kiper (1:36 PM)
They've protected him. In the game against New Orleans, it wasn't Colt that won them that game, it was the defense and special teams. When you have a young QB, you have to get help from the team, and they did. Right now, he's a work in progress and he'll need everyone to pick it up. He's eventually going to be a starting QB in this league. You have to give these young QBs some time. Don't evaluate these rookie QBs like they're 3-4 year veterans. People make that mistake all the time.
Who do think are the top 3-4 defensive linemen in this year's draft?
Mel Kiper (1:38 PM)
The No. 1 DL in this draft is a battle. Robert Quinn won't play. Marrcel Dareus is a 3-4 DE or 4-3 DT. Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson. Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn. Adrian Clayburn, DE, Iowa. Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue. Allen Bailey, DE/DT, Miami. Seven of the top 14 are DLs. It's the year of the DL.
Mel Kiper (1:39 PM)
Right now, I have 7 of the top 14 and 9 in the top 25 being DLs.
Mel: How many NFL teams do you see looking for a starting QB in the draft? I count 6....... Is the demand for QBs going to fall off a cliff 3 years from now?
Mel Kiper (1:41 PM)
San Fran could be. Washington. Then there are the iffy teams, like: Jacksonville, Buffalo. If I'm Buffalo right now, I have to like the way Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing. Garrard is playing well for Jacksonville, but he's inconsistent.
Mel Kiper (1:42 PM)
Fitzpatrick has played against 6 playoff teams. Every team that he's played against has been .500 or better.
Roy Helu Jr (Nebraska)
After joining the top 5 in rushing yards at Nebraska and running for a school record 307 yards last weekend. How you see me doing in the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:44 PM)
He has a chance to be a complimentary back in the NFL. Right now, he's my fourth highest rated senior RB. The top four RB in the senior class are from the Big 12: DeMarco Murray, Daniel Thomas, Kendall Hunter, Roy Helu Jr. He could be in that fourth to fifth round area, depending on how he runs at the combine.
Marshall (Mobile, AL)
Have you seen enough of Cam Newton to have a strong opinion on how high of a QB prospect he is for the NFL? How are his QB mechanics in relation to being NFL ready?
Mel Kiper (1:46 PM)
No, we haven't seen enought. We have to continue to watch him in the pocket as a passer some more. If he comes out this year, it's a tough evaluation. You're investing a ton of money in a QB that you haven't seen in a pro formation. He has a strong arm. I think he throws a strong arm. His accuracy is inconsistent. I think he's a first rounder. I can't say how high, because there is still a lot of football to be played. He'll be in the first round, I just don't see it being very high because of the unknowns. You see Andrew Luck in NFL situations all the time. You don't see Newton in NFL situations all the time.
Thomas (Avon Park, FL)
Who do you see as the top linebackers for this years draft?
Mel Kiper (1:48 PM)
Akeem Ayers, UCLA; Justin Houston, Georgia; Bruce Carter, UNC; Greg Jones, Michigan State; Von Miller, Texas A+M.
Tommy (New Orleans)
Why do you still have Prince Amukamara still the number 1 corner on your board after getting torched by Ok. State receiver?
Mel Kiper (1:49 PM)
He got beat in the first half. That could happen to any CB. Blackmon did it and he's a good WR. Admittedly, he didn't play well. But it was two quarters. Every corner gets beaten. Amukamara has a big matchup this weekend. Critical game.
Looking at all of the Draftees from last year, who is your pick for top rookie and who is the biggest bust for a rookie?
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
I would say Suh definitely on defense. For a rookie DT, he's been exceptional. I would say the best rookie has been him. Offensively? I would say Bradford, because he's a QB. But if you had to say the best player, Pouncey. Suh's been the best rookie.
Jim B. (Savage, MN)
if Cam Newton was at Florida, would they be #1?
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
Hard question to answer. They'd be a lot better than they are now. He's a better version of Tebow and that's hard to say. He can throw the ball better. He's a better runner. He has more speed. He has change of direction, Tebow was straight line. Yeah, if you're Florida, you go from Tebow to Newton, are you kidding me? He has carried Auburn. I've said that at the end of the year, Auburn would be 7-5 without him. He could have had Florida in that national championship hunt.
Stephanie (Canton, OH)
Has Carson Palmer lost his touch and have the injuries of the past caught up to him?
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
That's the one that leaves you scratching your head. Cincinnati with the 2-5 record. They haven't scored enough points on a consistent basis. They've only scored over 24 points once. They've been held to 21 or fewer points in 5 games. When you have veteran receivers like they do and Benson running and Gresham at TE, and you can't score more than 20 points a game? That's unheard of. That shouldn't happen. In their two wins, they scored 15 and they barely got to 20 against Carolina. Two weeks ago, we talked about the Bengals in the chat, I said they were in trouble and said they could finish 5-11. I think that's the best case scenario. That team has sputtered right at the start of the season.
Mel Kiper (1:59 PM)
It should be a great weekend of college football and the NFL. We'll be back next week to do it all over again.
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