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 (1:00 PM)
We've got Mel!
Mel, have you seen these trick throw QB videos that have gone around online? Do they show anything about a prospect? These videos or the one with the lineman jumping out of the pool last year, do they have any value when evaluating someone?
Mel Kiper (1:02 PM)
I think they have merit. They create a buzz. They get people to talk about them. They get people to look more closely at a player. They show athletic ability. They might get people to go back and look at them again because of the video. They could be intrigued by the athleticism. It will get a buzz around you, from a curiosity standpoint so I don't think it's a bad thing. I think in this era of YouTube, for a kid to do it, it can't hurt. There's no downside to it. If you're a top player, you don't have to worry about it.
Rion (Saint Clair, PA)
Does Jake Locker have the accuracy for the NFL and what type of system would he do well in?
Mel Kiper (1:04 PM)
I don't think you worry about systems right now. He can be a down the field vertical stretch passing QB. He can get the ball down the field. The issue with him is accuracy. On film you don't see great instincts. On third down this year, he was only 51.1%. Overall, he was around 55.4 percent. He's a talented kid. He has great toughness, great leadership, great character. He's a gifted athlete. He's just not the accomplished passer that he needed to show to get the high grade.
Where do you see Von Miller going? And what is the highest and lowest you could see him drafted?
Mel Kiper (1:05 PM)
I could see him going as high as No. 3, but I'm thinking 5 to Arizona. 3 is possible. 8 to Tennessee. I project him to Arizona at 5 right now.
Matt (College Park)
Can Torrey Smith become a legimate weapon in the league? Or is he just gonna be another freakish athlete that Maryland produces that doesn't work out.
Mel Kiper (1:06 PM)
He's a better natural pass catcher than Heyward-Bey. From that stand point, he's ahead of him. He was an excellent kick returner, where he made a name for himself before becoming a WR. He can really run. He's strong for his size. He is a borderline first round guy, going into the combine.
Hi Mel, of the top half dozen DE/OLBs, which do you expect to most improve his stock at the combine?
Mel Kiper (1:08 PM)
Dontay Moch from Nevada. He's being viewed as being one of the fastest players in the draft. If he showcases that kind of speed, he'll get into the conversation. Chris Carter from Fresno State. Karl Klug from Iowa. He has great versatility. Justin Houston from Georgia.
Hey Mel, is there any shot at all of Peterson falling to Dallas at 9?
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
Doubt it. It's highly unlikely. He's arguably the best athlete in this draft. I remember when Rod Woodson came out in the draft in 1987 and he went 10th overall. He was considered by far the best athlete in that draft. Interestingly enough, there were three busts taken ahead of him. He went on to become a hall of famer. With Peterson, I don't think that will happen with him this year. He could still slip into the top 5, with someone trading up to get him. I have him going 7 to San Francisco. I've talked to some people that think he's the best player in this draft. I don't have him No. 1 on the Big Board, I have him No. 4.
Please tell me you don't really think the Browns will take J.J Watt at 6? Why would they want a DE who doesn't really get after the QB??
Mel Kiper (1:12 PM)
He's a solid all around player is what he is. You think going in that he can be a guy that maybe isn't as dominant as some prefer, but the thing about him is he was in that backfield a lot. In 2009, he had 15.5 tackles for loss. This year, people were trying to neutralize him and he had 21 tackles for loss and 7 sacks. He has strong hands, good instincts. Tremendous workers. He had 12 pass breakups the last two years. He's not a Bowers or Quinn as a pass rusher, but he'll be tremendous against the run and give you good attitude. His stock has risen. He's a tough nosed, consistent player. People said last year that Suh wasn't going to be a sack guy either.
What direction do you think the Bears will go with their first round pick?
Mel Kiper (1:14 PM)
I think they have to look at OL. Cutler is their guy. You need to keep him up right. They have to protect him 1,000 percent than last year. Ben Ijalana is someone they can look at. The OL will be their key for success this year coming up.
Mel Kiper (1:14 PM)
They could also use CB, OLB and DT.
Mel, do you really see the speed of Prince Amukamara affecting his position. He did get burned a few times this year.
Mel Kiper (1:15 PM)
That's again where the combine will be important for him. He's projected to be in that 4.5 range. You'd like for him to be in the mid-4.4. If he can do that, he can get into the top 10 range. Overall, the last two years, he was a very consistent player. The first half of the OK State game he was beat, but he adjusted for the second half. In the right defensive scheme, I think he can be a heckuva player. Right now, on the Big Board, he's No. 9.
Mike ((San Francisco))
How much do special teams contributions weigh on these players' draft positions?
Mel Kiper (1:17 PM)
For the non-first rounders, heavily. You don't draft Peterson in the top 5 or 10 because he's a great return man, you do that because he's a great corner. If you get the return skills, it's a bonus. Like Deion Sanders. If you get that kind of production, that's a bonus. Even guys who are good in punt and kick coverage, on Day 3 of the draft, they'll get a lot of attention. Versatility is important. It can get you a roster spot.
Do you think that Dalton could sneak into the late part of the first round?
Mel Kiper (1:19 PM)
No. I think that's too high. He's a second or third rounder. He's not the pure passer that you need to be a first round pick. At the Senior Bowl, he was decent, not spectacular. There wasn't a lot of buzz around him coming out. Christian Ponder had a better Senior Bowl week. But Dalton is one of those overachieving QBs. He has that "it" factor. He just finds a way to get the job done. Great huddle presence. Very experienced. He's a gamer.
How does Christian Ponder's decision to not throw at the combine affect his draft stock?
Mel Kiper (1:20 PM)
That's what the pro days will be for. They always like to see guys workout at the combine, but at the end of the day, it won't matter that much. They make their opinion on what they see on film, their pro day. I've been doing this long enough to see people be up in arms with someone not working out at the combine, but come the pro day, they're not talking about it any more. I see him being a 3rd round pick.
Jim (New York)
Any QB turned WR in this years draft, ala Brad Smith?
Mel Kiper (1:22 PM)
Yeah, I think Tyrod Taylor from VT is an interesting guy. I think he deserves the chance to play QB. He's 6-1, so he has adequate height. He improved dramatically as a passer. He deserves a chance. If he doesn't make it as a QB, he could be someone you work in as a slot reciever or into the return game. I think he'll end up being a 3-4 round pick. I've heard some positive commentary from people on him.
What's your take on Clayborn? Haven't heard much other than he didn't have a great senior year.
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
He didn't have as good a year as he did as a junior. He's a 285-295 pounder that can rush the passer. He's explosive. He's a ferocious tackler. He'll drop a little bit because he didn't have a great senior year, but I think he goes in the 20-28 area.
I have heard reports that Carolina might take Netwon with the #1 pick, have you heard anything on this?
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
I don't think they'd do that. I wouldn't do that. I like Jimmy Clausen. If you liked him before, you still like him, but if you didn't, then you still don't. There is a new head coach there. Any time you have a coaching change, and the new coach has no ties to the QB, there's an issue. But I wouldn't take him. I'm not quite as high on Newton as some teams might be. I've talked to some teams that think he's the best player in the draft. I have him at 7. I project him to No. 3, but that's because of the buzz you hear surrounding him. And someone could try to trade up to get him.
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
Minnesota at 12 could trade up to get him.
Mel, Ryan Mallet or Jake Locker?
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
If I had to make a decision right now, I'd go beyond those two and go with Ricky Stanzi. He's 6-4, 220 pounds. He's a good leader. He's been solid. Productive. He's 26-9 as a starter. 3-0 in bowl games. 25 TDs, 6 INTs this year, which was dramatically improved over last year. 59.2 percent on third down, 7 TDs, no picks. He improved on the deep ball, even though he still made a couple of bad reads. That's a kid that deserves to be a second round pick.
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
The thing that bothered me about him was there were some games where he looked more like a 5-6 round pick, particuarly as a junior, where he showed some inconsistency.
Mel Kiper (1:29 PM)
And back to Mallet and Locker, I have Mallet just ahead of Locker. But it's like splitting hairs. I have Newton, Gabbert, Mallet, Locker, Stanzi, Dalton.
ryan IL [via mobile]
Any TEs carolina could take 3rd or 4th round?
Mel Kiper (1:31 PM)
It will be interesting to see where Kyle Rudolph falls. He has that hamstring injury. He could slip to be a 3-4 round kind of guy. He's a real good pass catching TE. He has the size to develop into a good player. I saw some Todd Heap in him when healthy. He's a good athlete. That hamstring injury is the reason he could fall a little bit.
Mel Kiper (1:32 PM)
A couple of other guys that fall into that category, Rob Housler, Florida Atlantic, who could be the fastest TE in this draft; Weslye Saunders, South Carolina; Luke Stocker; Andre Smith is the best blocking TE in the draft.
dom (bay area)
hey Mel,Can Ahmad Black play FS for my niners? or is he just a SS?
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
The thing that will hurt him is his size. That will impact where he goes in the draft.
Cody (St. Louis )
Why isn't Gabbert being considered for the number one pick or at least a lock for the top five? He has all the physical tools to be a franchise quarterback. Teams major concern with him is that he ran a spread offense, which should not be a factor after a year since he has all the intangibles so he will put the necessary work to make the change.
Mel Kiper (1:34 PM)
He's got size, arm strength, quick release. The issue for him will be the Missouri offense. Just going to that initial read. Catch and toss. He's deep in that offense in the shotgun, his mobility might be overrated. I thought he got out of that pocket too quickly. He's great at that initial read. When he has to go through his progressions, he has some issues.
Mel Kiper (1:35 PM)
I think he's a top 10 pick. I could see him very easily going to Washington at 10, Tennessee at 8, Minnesota at 12.
Matthew Leavey (Owings Mills)
Mel - I've tapped Missouri outside linebacker/defensive end Aldon Smith as a very strong possibility for the Ravens. I also like Titus Young, Justin Houston, and Gabe Carimi for #26. What do you think?
Mel Kiper (1:37 PM)
He's a pass rusher and they need another speed rusher. I could see him being a guy that goes in that area, but I just think he goes earlier. I could see him going to Jacksonville. He's a third-year sophomore. He had that great year in 2009 when he had 19 tackles for loss. He's a phenomenal athlete. If you saw him prior to his injury, you liked what you saw.
Steve (Bangor, PA)
Which guys project the best to playing NT in a 3-4?
Mel Kiper (1:38 PM)
Phil Taylor, from Baylor, is probably the top guy. He's a big kid. Powerful kid. He's a guy that would be interesting.
James (upstate, NY)
How does AJ Green compare to Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson when they came out of college?
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
He's going to have a high grade. You can make the argument that he's the best player in the draft. Some teams are reluctant to take WR in the top 5, because that's viewed as being the missing link. You get your DL and OL guys and build and then get the WR as the missing link. Carolina drafted all of those WR last year. Cincinnati went undefeated in their division two years ago, but are re-doing their WR corp. They could actually look WR with their pick. Green could end up there.
Dwayne (Glendae, AZ)
Mel, the Dolphins are sitting with the 15th pick and no 2nd round pick. Who do you see as possible trading partners to move down and acquire a 2nd pick. Or do you see the greater need for them to draft M.Ingram with their current pick?
Mel Kiper (1:41 PM)
They need a RB. They're restructuring their RB position. Ingram would be a real good pick for them. He would be a guy that would be a nice addtion to the team. They have to make a decision at QB. They need help in the interior of the OL. I think Ingram would be a pretty obvious pick at 15.
dom (bay area)
Hey Mel,Whats your take on Ahmad Black? I think he is a great playmaker with good instincts. Can you see him playing FS? I think he can and would be the playmaker my niners need at FS. Thanks
Mel Kiper (1:43 PM)
Back to this Ahmad Black question, now that I found his official size. His size is the issue. He's 5-9.25, 185. He was a CB early on, spent the majority of his time at SS. But it's the size. He led the team in tackles. 11 INTs over the last two years. A real gamer. His performance was that of a second round pick, but he's probably more of a fourth rounder because of his size.
If Dontay Moch has the fastest ever 40 time (which is very possible), where do you see him being drafted?
Mel Kiper (1:44 PM)
He's expected to be fast. He's expected to be the fastest LB out there. He was a disruptive force. As a 3-4 OLB, he could be a second round guy if he runs that wow you over 40.
What is the Chiefs biggest need right now OL, DT or OLB?
Mel Kiper (1:45 PM)
I think it's WR, OLB and NT. If you're looking at KC, I would think Akeem Ayers, UCLA; Justin Houston, Georgia; Julio Jones, Alabama (if he's there).
Chris (Lansing, MI)
Who do you think the Detroit Lions Will take with the 13th pick?
Mel Kiper (1:46 PM)
CB is their biggest need. OLB, OT. If Amukamara is there, that's a great pick. If he's gone, maybe Jimmy Smith or Aaron Williams, if you want to reach a little bit. Or Akeem Ayers. Or Nate Solder or Tyron Smith. I'm projecting right now Jimmy Smith from Colorado.
Any change of pace backs out there for the 49ers like McCluster/Sproles?
Mel Kiper (1:48 PM)
Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State. He could be in the third round mix. Noel Devine, WVU; Derrick Locke, Kentucky; Jordan Todman, UConn, who would be outstanding in that role. Todman and Hunter are probably the two best for that role. Hunter is a perfect complementary back. Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State; Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh.
Mel, Do you think it is the Hawks winning the divison and picking in the 20's instead of losing and picking in the top 10 is that bad? seems like a couple of their biggest needs will be there, they could go OL with Pouncey or QB with Locker or Mallet.
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
They could. I think they look QB in the second round with Mallet, Locker, Ponder, Dalton, Stanzi. I think they look at Pouncey at 25. Carimi is a possibility.
John (Columbia, SC)
Mel, Where does Denver need the most help at on D?
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
DL. Then CB, LB, S. They could also use a pass catching TE and OL help. They'd be looking at whoever Carolina doesn't take, either Bowers or Fairley.
Do you think Colin Kaepernick has more NFL upside than Jake Locker?
Mel Kiper (1:53 PM)
In a way, they're somewhat similar. The accuracy issue is there for Locker. Locker is a better prospect. I'm not going to knock Locker far enough where Kaepernick jumps ahead of him. Kaepernick is not a pure passer. The ball doesn't always come out of his hands the way you want. I think Kaepernick ranks: Newton, Gabbert, Mallet, Locker, Stanzi, Dalton, Ponder, then, that's where you get into Kaepernick or Tyrod Taylor.
Mel, where do you see PSU running back Even Royster going and what kind of career could he have? Thanks
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
Royster's stock has dropped from where it was earlier in his career. He had a chance to develop into an intriguing NFL prospect. He was a good college RB. I just wonder at the pro level, how can he do without the burst. He was contained in a number of games. I could see him being in that 5-7 round.
Best option for the Pats at #17? Akeem Ayers, if he is there?
Mel Kiper (1:55 PM)
Ayers, yeah. He'll be right in that mix. I would think they look at a 3-4 DE like Cameron Jordan. I keep hearing that they might move up to get AJ Green. You could imagine putting Green on that team with that offense and those TEs they brought in last year and Welker and the backs they have. You'd be looking at a lethel offense.
Who is the best returner this year?
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
Lot of guys that fall into that category: DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma; Jerrel Jeringan, Troy; Niles Paul, Nebraska; Cecil Shorts, Mount Union; Titus Young, Boise State; Jeremy Kerley, TCU; Philip Livas, Louisiana Tech; Tandon Doss, Indiana; Jordan Todman, UConn.
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
We have the combine coming up this weekend. The workouts all start Saturday. We'll have a review of the combine at this time next week.