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 (1:06 PM)
We've got Mel!
Cliff (Seattle, WA)
Jimmy Smith's physical qualities make him look like a top 15 pick. Where do you see him now?
Mel Kiper (1:09 PM)
I'm going to wait until the combine workout to really elevate his grade. I want to make sure his computer numbers are where I think they will be. I had him coming into this year as a lockdown CB. He only allowed 7 completions in man coverage as a junior at Colorado. I had him pretty high coming into this year. You look at the program at Colorado, they had struggles so he flew under the radar a bit. He's 6-2 and runs a 4.5 40 or so. He's my third highest rated CB as we speak, behind Peterson and Amukamara. If he's as good at the combine as I think, he could easily be a middle first round guy.
I really think there will be a big run on QB's early in the draft, much like '84 or '99. If that happens, how far up will that lift guys like Dalton, Stanzi, and Kaepernick?
Mel Kiper (1:12 PM)
It's going to be tough for them to go up too too high. Few teams will be looking at a need at QB. Teams that are looking at a young QB are: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Arizona, San Francisco, Tennessee, Washington, Minnesota, Miami, Jacksonville, Oakland, Seattle and that would be the teams. So, if you figure that you're going to have Blaine Gabbert being the first QB taken, followed by Newton. Then Mallet and Locker. It's a battle for the fifth QB spot. Colin Kaepernick is right in the mix. Ricky Stanzi is right in the mix. Andy Dalton is right there as well. Right there, you're talking about depth at QB being pretty good. That doesn't mention Christian Ponder, who had the big Senior Bowl game. That doesn't include Pat Devlin or Tyrod Taylor or Greg McElroy. Depth at QB this year is pretty good. You'll see a lot of these QBs go in the 4-6 rounds.
What does Kaepernicks performance at the senior bowl do to his stock?
Mel Kiper (1:14 PM)
Certainly he had a pretty impressive week if you look at what he was able to do. He has imposing size. He has the size that you're looking for, to see the field. He's 6-4.5, 225 pounds. He runs a 4.5 40. Has a strong arm. He had a 93 MPH fastball as a pitcher coming out of the prep ranks. Skilled athlete, strong arm, competitive approach. He needs to get mechanically stronger. Kaepernick is the kind of guy that could be a very intriguing developmental QB. He could be a guy that could be a starter in this league. I think he'll go in the 2-3 round.
How good do you think James Starks can be if he can stay healthy?
Mel Kiper (1:16 PM)
I think he can be a very good back. I thought that during his career at Buffalo and coming into the NFL. He had that shoulder injury going into his senior year. He would have been a second round pick if he was healthy and had a senior year like his junior year. Medical technology as it is now, you have to jump on these guys that are hurt. He went in the sixth round and he could have gone in the second round. That's too far of a drop. He put up huge numbers his junior year. This should be a lesson to the NFL. You have to jump on these guys.
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
Graig Cooper, RB from Miami, had a knee injury in last year's bowl game and didn't get back to 100% until late in the year. He's a guy that falls into the same category as Starks this year. Guys that didn't play this year because they were suspended. Greg Little, you can't drop him a ton. Kyle Rudolph missed part of the season with an injury, don't write him off. Greg Romeus, DE from Pitt, another guy. Bruce Carter, OLB from UNC. Ras'i Dowling missed part of the season with a variety of injuries. You can't drop these guys too far. You'll be making a mistake.
Could Detroit end up taking Jimmy Smith at 13?
Mel Kiper (1:21 PM)
That's a little early right now, but if he passes his combine workout, that would be a possibility. Detroit's major need is a CB. Amukamara won't be there, I don't think. I have him at 9 to Dallas. Smith could be in the discussion for Detroit. If he has the combine and pro day that I think he can, he could be in the mix. It looks early right now, but he could jump in there. Other teams that might think about him in the first round are: Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago. All of those teams could be looking CB.
Do you think DHB will ever develop into a consistent WR?
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
I don't know if he can ever be a super consistent WR. But to get him to a point to be a guy that can be a consistent down the field threat. I don't know if he'll ever be a guy that if you throw the ball near him, he'll get it. I don't think hands is something you can improve. I think you're either a natural pass catcher or you're not. Raymond Barry was a natural pass catcher. Reggie Wayne. Larry Fitzgerald. Natural pass catchers. Cris Carter. All of those guys, just natural. That's not going to be Darius Heyward-Bey. He'll have to be a fear factor WR in stretching the field vertically.
Anonymus (Lexington, NC)
Which Auburn Player do the Carolina Panthers need more Cam Newton, or Nick Fairly?
Mel Kiper (1:24 PM)
It depends on how you feel about Jimmy Clausen. If you're like me and think that he can do the job, then you take Nick. But I think No. 1 overall is too high for a QB this year, without Luck. I'm a Clausen supporter, but if you're not, then you lean QB, either Newton or Gabbert.
Hi Mel, any chance Leshoure leapfrogs Ingram and would he be a good fit on the Dolphins?
Mel Kiper (1:26 PM)
I like Leshoure. I've given him a pretty good grade all year. Here's a guy that was given more of a workload this year and responded by leading almost all Big Ten RBs in rushing. He's pushing 230 pounds, but he can still get the job done in the open field with some good speed for a big back. With that said, you can't put him in the same class as Mendenhall, whom I had in the top 10 of his class, while I have Leshoure is inthe top 25-35. Mendenhall dropped and was a nice bargain for the Steelers. I have Ingram ahead of Leshoure, but I think he has value in the late first, early second. The risk is thinking he'll be the next Mendenhall. That's asking too much.
What player do you really expect to boost his draft stock during the combine? Someone who may be flying under the radar a bit.
Mel Kiper (1:30 PM)
Jimmy Smith, we already talked about. The combine with him could make him a mid first rounder. The combine for Little, Vincent Brown - who could solidify a second round grade with a good workout. DJ Williams from Arkansas had a very good Senior Bowl week. He could be a fullback, H-back, move TE. He could move up to the second round mix. Marvin Austin, DT from UNC. He didn't play this year with the suspension. Davon House, CB from New Mexico St. He has legit speed. He has to show that at the combine. Leshoure as well. To show the legit speed that he displayed during the season. Jon Baldwin, WR from Pitt. Big WR. What kind of quickness does he show? Torrey Smith, WR from Maryland. If he has a big combine, he could be in the late first mix. Tyron Smith, OT from USC. He was listed at about 285, if he's up around 300 and he'll be a LT in the NFL, he could move up. Robert Quinn, from UNC, who didn't play this year with the suspension.
Mel Kiper (1:31 PM)
Aaron Williams, CB from Texas. Rahim Moore, S from UCLA. Robert Sands, S from West Virginia. Kenny Tate, S from Maryland. Jerrard Tarrant, S from Georgia Tech. All of those guys, the combine is important.
The Bears have the worst OL in the NFL. How can they not take an OL in the first round?
Mel Kiper (1:34 PM)
It depends who's there. Clearly, OL is their biggest need. You can't force it. They have a need at OLB, CB. They could use an interior OL beyond the first round. Mike Pouncey, C/G out of Florida; Will Rackey, OG, Lehigh; James Carpenter, OT, Alabama; Clint Bowling, OL, Georgia. Those are some guys that they could look at, but you can't force the pick in the first round. There may be some CBs that are worth it at that point or some DTs. Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois is a possibility.
Mel, will there be an elite prospect for the Bengals to take at #4? I'm worried there are only 2-3 in this draft.
Mel Kiper (1:35 PM)
They need a DE, so they could take Da'Quan Bowers, who I think is the 1-2 best player in the draft. AJ Green at WR. That's an option. They have a couple of good options there. If they want to surprise everybody and take a young QB, they could look at Gabbert or Newton there and throw everyone a curveball.
Cam Newton spent one year in a system that is NOTHING like what he'll be exposed to in the NFL. He was great, but still displayed consistently poor accuracy. Isn't he sort of the poster child for a first round BUST?
Mel Kiper (1:38 PM)
He presents great upside and he presents risk. He presents the best upside of any QB in this draft and the most risk. His accuracy wasn't poor. He wasn't tremendously precise, but his accuracy wasn't bad. Completion percentage doesn't reflect accuracy. The windows in the NFL are so much smaller. In college, if you get the ball in the area, the guy can get to it. You have to power some throws in the NFL a lot of the times. In Newton's case, he's not going to be coming in right away and playing. I think it would be a mistake to bring him in and play right away. He could be a heckuva QB if you give him some time. However, he is a one-year wonder at this point. We have to figure out if he's got the intangibles to be a top 5-10 pick.
Titus Young can stretch the field and has great speed, do you see him having the same kind of impact on a team like Mike Wallace has on the Steelers?
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
Titus Young's issue is that he's not that big. Wallace is bigger. Young checked in at 5-11, 175 pounds at the Senior Bowl. He's not as big as Wallace. Young is fast, but he's not as fast as Jackson was at Cal. He's a vertical stretch guy, has that burst. If he has a great combine, he could be a second round pick. But Wallace, can Young be like that? Yeah, that's a decent comparison.
If Von Miller is gone, who do you see the Texans drafting?
Mel Kiper (1:42 PM)
Miller did show at the Senior Bowl that he could play the OLB position in the 4-3 scheme, which I think was important. If he's gone, they could look at Akeem Ayers, OLB from UCLA; Blaine Gabbert; Cam Newton. Those would be their options.
Mel, when you look at the two Super Bowl teams, what needs do you see them addressing at the end of the first round?? Thanks.
Mel Kiper (1:43 PM)
Green Bay, OT, OLB, DE, OG. Those are some of the areas they could address. For Pittsburgh, CB, DL, and possibly WR depending on the Ward situation.
C.J. (San Diego)
Is it possible that Jake Locker could fall out of 1st round?
Mel Kiper (1:47 PM)
Definitely. It's possible. There are some teams that still like his potential. There are 32 teams in this league. Some feel he could be a first round pick and others don't. Everybody agrees that he needs time. If you ever talk to any of the great NFL offensive minds, including the late, great Bill Walsh, they said that if they're not getting it done in college and not completing passes with a high completion percentages in college, how are they going to get it done in the NFL? Locker as a junior completed 58 percent of his passes. This year, he completed 55 percent of his passes. Aaron Rodgers when he was drafted late in the first round, he completed 66 percent. Kyle Boller, the bust with the Ravens, completed 53 percent. If you're in that range, it's a red flag for me. Rodgers only threw four INTs as a senior. Locker as a junior threw 21 TDs and 11 INT and was 17-9 as a senior. Think about what he was against Nebraska in two games: 9 for 36. Even in their bowl game, he did most of his damage running the ball.
Mel Kiper (1:48 PM)
It wouldn't surprise me if he went 20-32, but it would shock me if he went top 10-15. He had a subpar year. His numbers were better as a junior then as a senior.
How high of a ceiling does Robert Quinn have? Who would he compare to currently in the NFL?
Mel Kiper (1:49 PM)
He's a beast. That's what he was as a sophomore. If he had played that way this year, he would have been talked about as the first player picked. He was suspended for the entire season. He's just a freakish athlete. Tremendous natural pass rusher. I don't see him getting past San Francisco at 7.
Denver needs defense which is obviously, but can yous see then taking Rudolph with their 2nd pick in the 2nd rd or will they continue to address defense?
Mel Kiper (1:51 PM)
That's an interesting point. I've made that point several times with their need areas. They could certainly use a pass catching TE. OL and a TE like Rudolph would be something they'd be interested in acquiring. But when you look at where they're picking, Patrick Peterson with the second overall pick. But they also need other help on the defense and OL help.
Do you think the Pouncey will play center or guard in the NFL?
Mel Kiper (1:53 PM)
I think he made some improvements at center after some shakey starts early in the season. He played guard next to his twin brother to start his career. He began his college career at DL. He got better this year as the year went along. I think teams will look at him attractively as a OG, but he could swing over to center. He's not his player his brother was, I believe. I don't think he was ever that good at Florida.
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
Mike Pouncey, in normal draft year with more C/G types, would probably be a 2-3 round pick. But this year in a lean year for that position, it's possible that he could go in the first round. I don't think he will, but he could.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Why is Julio Jones a notch below A.J. Green? Both are huge, freakish athletes...
Mel Kiper (1:55 PM)
Two things: consistency catching the football. Jones had some drops catching the football and had some drops. And durability. Jones had some injuries at Alabama. Can he stay 100%? Those are the edges that Green has over Jones.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Who is the leader in the clubhouse right now as the #1 overall pick?
Mel Kiper (1:56 PM)
Nick Fairley, the DT from Auburn is the guy deserving of consideration. Bowers is my second ranked player. AJ Green is my third rated player and Patrick Peterson after him. Gabbert and Newton are the top rated QBs, but I don't think they get that high. I go with Nick Fairley.
hey, who are the top guys you see the niners taking at pick 7? or do you see them possibly trading down for more picks?
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
The 49ers need a QB, OLB, WR, CB. Where they're picking, they could look at Robert Quinn. Gabbert or Newton at QB. AJ Green. Or Amukamara. Von Miller has to be in that mix now, after the way he looked at the Senior Bowl.
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
We have the Super Bowl this weekend, where I'm picking the Packers over the Steelers. We'll be back next Wednesday, when I'll have another first round projection coming out.