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 (12:56 PM)
Mel will be here at the top of the hour to chat!
Can you imagine a scenario where Matt Barkley challenges Andrew Luck for the #1 spot in the 2012 Draft?
Mel Kiper (1:06 PM)
No. No. When Matt Barkley came to USC, I envisioned him to potentially be a No. 1 overall pick. At that time, Luck wasn't viewed as the top pick he is now. Luck will have the highest grade I've ever given to a QB since Elway in 1983. Barring a career ending injury to Luck, he'll be the second in line. He'll be a third year junior next year. When you look at Barkley and the situation at USC, he will be a very good prospect, but Luck is in a different stratosphere.
Do you compare Nick Fairley more towards Glenn Dorsey or Suh? What NFL player would you compare Da'Quan Bowers to?
Mel Kiper (1:08 PM)
They're all different. Dorsey has really come on with the Chiefs and is playing some good football. He's a great kid, a hard worker. He's not the dominator that Suh is. Suh is just incredibly strong, incredibly powerful. He's a real smart football player. I thought he was clearly the best rookie in the NFL this year. Of course going into last year, he had the highest grade on my board. Fairley is a one-year guy. Remember, he didn't do a lot last year. He dropped his weight down from 320 or so to aorund 300. He's very strong. He threw those Oregon guys around in the national championship game. He won't have as high a grade as Suh did. I think Fairley will have the highest grade in this draft. We'll have to see how the workouts go. He's slightly ahead of Bowers.
Gregg (Kansas City)
How much did Casey Matthews help his draft stock with his performance in the BCS title game?
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
Casey's a good football player. Great bloodlines. Hard working, tough football player. He's not the talent that Clay is. The 40 time will be important for him. Can he run a 4.7 or is he in the 4.8 range? That's very important. You saw him make the big plays on the field. Very opportunistic. Very tough, very physical. I thought he was Oregon's best defensive player.
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
He is right now, my 7th highest rated ILB for the draft.
where do you see torrey smith of maryland being drafted?
Mel Kiper (1:12 PM)
I think Torrey could end up being a second round pick. Had he gone back to Maryland he could have gone higher. He was outstanding in the red zone. Excellent speed, strong for his size. Dynamic kick off returner. I think you're looking at a kid that should be no worse than a second rounder. If he has a great workout, he could be in the first round discussion. He's more polished than Heyward-Bey when he came out and he went at the top of the first. Right now, Smith would be my 4th highest rated receiver, maybe the third.
Is this the weakest Offensive Tackle class as far as 1st round talent?
Mel Kiper (1:15 PM)
It's weak from that stand point. In 2009, you had three in the top 10. We had three in the top 11 last year. This year compares more to 2008, where Jake Long went No. 1, but after him, there wasn't another one until 12, then 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 26. If you took out Long, this would be more in line with 2008. We do not have a Long in this draft, but you have some Ryan Clady types, some Otah types, Albert types. The grades of the guys this year are in line with them. Those players are: Nate Solder, Colorado; Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin; Anthony Castonzo, BC; Derek Sherrod, MS State; Ben Ijalana, Villanova; Tyron Smith, USC. Those would be the players that would be first round caliber this year on the OL.
D Simon (Chicago)
I want the Bears to trade up to get a top WR like Julio Jones... we can always draft an interior offensive lineman in later rounds, which is our biggest need. There doesn't seem to be a lineman worth taking in the first round. Thoughts?
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
I think this, where the Bears are going to be picking, which is right now around 27, they have no true No. 1 WR. They could use a LT. They're getting age is settling in at C and OG. They could add a DT, OLB and a CB. But nothing pressing there. Their most pressing area is WR and OL. I would agree. I don't think Jones will be there at 27. AJ Green will be a top 10 pick. Blackmon, if he comes out, speed is the question with him, if he runs well, he goes mid first. Torrey Smith from Maryland could be an interesting guy for the Bears where they're picking. Jon Baldwin from Pitt is another guy. But I would think Smith would be a possibility.
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
If you're looking for a LT who could also play OG is Ben Ijalana. He figures to come off the board right where the Bears are picking this year.
Gut feeling: who will be the first QB taken in the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:20 PM)
If you had to say right now, it's Blaine Gabbert from Missouri. He has a lot of things that you look for, from a physical standpoint. He's 6-4 to 6-5, 230. Very strong arm. Quick release. Very good mobility. You talk about very highly regarded coming out of high school. He'll have to transition from that offense in Missouri to a pro style offense. I think him or Cam Newton.
Is Tyrod Taylor being overlooked in most draft projections? Slower QBs with much less impressive passing efficiency ratings and wins are still projected much higher.
Mel Kiper (1:22 PM)
Tyrod Taylor is probably the most underappreciated QB in the senior class. He got outdueled by Luck in the bowl game. He's 6-1. He has the 4.5 speed, so you're thinking with his athletic ability, you're thinking about moving him to slot WR, return man. But I think you give him a shot at QB. He improved by leaps and bounds at VT. Very smart kid. Coachable. I think he goes probably third round as a QB. If he has a good workout maybe a little higher. I will have a higher grade on him than Pat White and he went in the second round.
Who are the top FS prospects in this year's draft?
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
Rahim Moore, UCLA.
Jeff Mahl was great in the NC game, but is he a pro prospect? Would he be a Steve Tasker type 4th WR and special teams guy?
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
Definitely. Mahl is going to make some significant contributions on an NFL team. He came in as a DB and evolved into a go-to WR. He bounced back up from some big hits this year. You know he can play special teams. He would be a good fourth or fifth round type of guy, depending on his workouts. He had a huge game the other night. He had the two-pt. conversion catch. He gets a lot of yards after the catch. He has the deceptive speed.
Is Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure a 1st round draft pick?
Mel Kiper (1:27 PM)
I'd say he's a late first, early second round pick. He's not going to have the grade that Mendenhall did when he came out. I had him as the 10th best player in his draft. McFadden was the No. 2 player. Leshoure is not the back that Mendenhall is, but when you watch him run, you have to be impressed. You're talking about a guy who averaged 6.8 yards per carry as a sophomore. This year, he led all Big Ten RBs with over 1,400 yards. He's about 5-11, 230. So he's a big back with good speed in the open field. He's at worst a second round pick. Right now, he's my second highest rated RB behind Mark Ingram from Alabama.
Dropping from 8th to 25th kills the Seahawks in getting a QB in the 1st round (ponder is an option later 3rd or 4th). I think they need CB, OG (run blocker), DE, and a safety to go next to earl thomas. Other than QB where do they go?
Mel Kiper (1:29 PM)
The QB situation is an area they need to fix. And they don't have a true No. 1 WR. Mike Williams had a great year, he was the comeback player of the year. He had 70 catches after having about 40 for his career. He was a heckuva player at USC and should have been drafted high, but he let his weight get out of control. And the defense, they need to upgrade the defense. That's where they will look. The best defensive player on the board when they pick is a place for them to go.
Why has Ryan Mallet's stock dropped so dramatically in the past month? A month ago, most people had him as the second best QB in the draft after Luck
Mel Kiper (1:32 PM)
If you go back into the archives, the highest he was on the Big Board was 8. Now he's at No. 21. I think the Alabama game was a red flag for him, when he had that melt down in the fourth. When he has the time to throw, he can pick you apart. He has incredible size. He's about 6-6, 238. He has a rocket arm. He shows a very impressive touch with throws and can drop the ball in there at times. He improved his accuracy this year. He can roll out and do damage. The concerns about him are sloppy mechanics at times. He needs a bigger area to throw the football, but in the NFL, you don't get those big areas for the long stride. Poor decision making, like in the Alabama game. Those are some of the issues. Also, intangibles. You'll have to check them out with him, as with all of the QBs. I think he goes betweeen 20-32.
Wesley (Great Lakes)
What is the deepest position in this years draft class? Any Sleepers in this years draft we might not have heard of?
Mel Kiper (1:34 PM)
DL. Without question. You have right now six of my top 13 as DL. Nine of my top 24 are DL. 15 of my top 35 are DL. That's both DEs and DTs.
Mel, the Packers desperately need a return man that has the ability to return one the distance. Who are the best returners in the draft so far?
Mel Kiper (1:36 PM)
Running back looks like a potential need for them, but James Starks from Buffalo has been showing them that he can be the main entity. He missed the entire 2009 season. He had a great year in 2008, 272 carries, 1,333 yards, 16 TDs, nearly 5.0 ypc. He was phenomenal. He's 6-2, 215. He ran a 4.5 40. His computer numbers were better than a lot of the backs that went in the first couple of rounds. He was a talent. He should have gone higher, but the injury was an issue. The fact that he played so well against the Eagles and shown them so much, RB isn't an issue for them any more. It looks like Starks will be the main entity.
Mel Kiper (1:39 PM)
They also have OL needs. OLB as well. If you're looking at return men, you're looking at guys like DeMarco Murray from Oklahoma. He was an outstanding kick returner during his career. Niles Paul. Jerrel Jernigan. Titus Young. Matt Szczur. Jeremy Kerley. Jordan Todman. Torrey Smith.
Mel, Where do you see Cam Newton going in the draft. Any way the Browns would take a chance on him that high?
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
Depending on how things work, he could go as high as No. 7 to SF, 10 to Washington. In that area. Gabbert has a similar range. Arizona at No. 5 could look at a QB. But 7 and 10 are two logical spots for QBs to go.
Ethan (College Station, TX)
At 9, who suits the Cowboys 3-4 defense the best? Or what other direction could they go in?
Mel Kiper (1:41 PM)
I would think at that point, CB could be a big need and Prince Amukamara is there. That would be a nice pick for them.
Kevin Hickey (Sydney Mines, N.S. Canada)
Do you think Patrick Peterson will fall out of the top 5 selections in the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:42 PM)
No. I think he could go as high as No. 2 to Denver. That would be a good spot for him, because they need a CB.
Mel Kiper (1:42 PM)
Their defense was horrible this year and CB is a big need.
SteveFitz (Chicago, IL)
ND's Michael Floyd is coming back to ND for his senior year. Good move? Where did you have him in the draft had he come out? Where will he likely be in the 2012 draft?
Mel Kiper (1:43 PM)
I think it's a good move. He had injuries this year. I don't think you ever want to come out when you didn't put up the numbers that you're capable of. You're talking about a guy who's 6-3. Notre Dame needs some consistency at the QB position, which they didn't have this year. Having a whole year at 100% and good QB play, he could be a higher pick in 2012.
Where does Christian Ponder go? How long before will he need before he contributes at the next level? Or will he be a backup forever?
Mel Kiper (1:44 PM)
He's going to be in the mix. He's a super smart kid. He had already earned his MBA before his senior year, the only player in D-IA that had done that. Very good arm strength. Very good athlete. He was banged up some this year. Durability has been a concern. I've always considered him a Chad Pennington type of player. He'll be off the radar in the NFL for a little bit, but I think he has a chance to be one of those career backup types or a starter in the right situation.
Fred (Walla Walla)
How much can LaMichael James improve his draft stock next year if Chip Kelly has him catch more passes out of the backfield?
Mel Kiper (1:46 PM)
That's the key. I've been making that point about him for the last month. He needs to be more of a factor catching the football. When you look at him, there were four games where he didn't catch a pass. And I'd like to see him be a factor in the return game. He's going to have to do those two things in the NFL.
Paul (Albany, OR)
Where do you think Jacquizz Rodgers goes in the draft Mel and what team would he be a good fit for? Thanks.
Mel Kiper (1:47 PM)
He's got a lot of ability. He has a lot of talent. He's only 5-7, 190-something pounds. Superb cutback ability. Fights for every inch of real estate. He has a chance to be a real good player in the NFL. He's probably a 3-4 rounder. He is that kind of player that has a Darren Sproles type of career.
Caleb Torello (College Station TX)
What do you think Texas A&M's Von Miller will end up in the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:49 PM)
I could see him going in the top 10-12. I could see him going to a team like San Francisco at No. 7. I could see Cleveland at No. 6. That would be a couple of teams there.
Who do you see the Bills drafting at #3??
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
They could look at Marcell Dareus. That would be a place to go. An OLB or pass rusher, but there's really no one that fits the mold there. They could look at an AJ Green from Georgia. But I think Dareus makes some sense.
Who do you see the Bucs drafting at #20?
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
I think for them, I would think they could go for somebody like Adrian Clayborn if he was there. Ryan Kerrigan. A DE. A WR like Justin Blackmon. Torrey Smith. With Benn, who had a really good finish to the season, unfortunately coming off the left knee injury, he had a great second half to the season. Because of that, they could look at WR. If he hadn't sustained the injury, WR wouldn't have been an area to look at. But with him getting injured so late in the year, they could look at WR. They could look DE or DB as well.
WHat needs would Houston have at No. 11?
Mel Kiper (1:55 PM)
Their big need is a safety on the defensive side. DE opposite Williams. They could also use a DT and a WR.
Mel Kiper (1:55 PM)
By the way, my first projection will be up on ESPN.com early next week.
What do the Lions do with their first pick, it would be great if Amukamara or Miller slide down to them but it doesn't seem likely to happen?
Mel Kiper (1:57 PM)
Those are two areas of need. They need a top flight CB, but there isn't a top CB to look at there. Miller would be attractive at that point, but he will be gone. Maybe an Ayers from UCLA. They could look at an OT.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you see the New York Giants drafting at #19?
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
Not a ton of needs. Their offense should be in good shape. Offensively, Steve Smith comes off the injury. OL held up well. I would think their biggest need would be OLB that's the biggest need. They could look at an Ayers or Miller.
Where does QB Ricky Stanzi stand on your board now that the season is done? He is a top 4 round pick?
Mel Kiper (1:59 PM)
Should be. I don't think he gets past the third round area. I thought he could be a second rounder at one point. He has real good size. He's experienced. He's battle tested. His TD ratio improved dramatically. He struggled on the deep throws. But I think he could be a 3-4 round guy easily, but I would say third round.
Mel Kiper (2:00 PM)
And I still wouldn't count out the second, but I'm not as definite as I was.
Mel Kiper (2:01 PM)
The first round projection will be out this Thursday. We've got the NFL playoffs this weekend. So we're looking forward to that. We'll have a lot to talk about with the playoffs and the projection next Wednesday!