Chat with Mel Kiper
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, 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. On Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon ET, Kiper co-hosts "Dari and Mel" with Dari Nowkhah. He also appears on ESPN Radio's College GameDay as well as SportsCenter and on ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join Kiper Monday at 2 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:00 PM)
We've got Mel!
Mel Kiper (2:01 PM)
This is our last chat until August 24, at 1 p.m. ET! Let's get to your questions!
Pats?! Of course every year I'm down after the draft and every year I'm pleased with the final product. Any chance for them to get a pass rusher via free agency when the lockout ends?
Mel Kiper (2:03 PM)
First of all, you'd like to be happier with the results in the playoffs. Losing at home, you just can't have that. And some of their Super Bowl wins haven't been spectacular. But when you look at them, the concern is no OLB. For Belichick, it's a complex system for young guys to learn. He's always liked veteran OLBs. Can Cunningham be better in his second year? Overall, that was the big thing, not taking Brooks Reid in the second round. And they passed on Mark Ingram, while taking two RBs later in the draft.
Mel, Loving the chats and love what you do. Which team do you think had the "weirdest" draft? By weird I mean which team do you think made the most bizarre moves, particularly in the later rounds?
Mel Kiper (2:06 PM)
Miami's interest in Ryan Mallet. There was a lot of talk about them being interested and trying to move up to get him. And they drafted a lot of offensive help, so you wonder about how they like Henne. Other teams, Jacksonville, they didn't get a DE. They took Gabbert early for the future. They didn't make picks to help their team for this year. They could have used the first pick on Robert Quinn. They could have stayed where they were and gotten Ryan Kerrigan. That's something we'll debate. It's a nice situation for Gabbert to sit and learn.
Mel Kiper (2:06 PM)
Seattle got some decent players, but there were some reaches in there. They had a first round reach and a fourth round reach.
Do you think the Bears would have rather gotten Austin than Paea?... Also do you think it was a reach taking Conte in the 3rd? Who could have been a good pick other than Conte?
Mel Kiper (2:08 PM)
I had it the other way, actually. I had Paea ahead of Austin. He's a one-gap penetrator. Two incredible strong athletes. Austin didn't play this year. But either one would have been an addition to the Bears. And Conte was a reach in the third. They could have had Searcy. He was my second highest rated safety.
lm (north of 9)
Of the teams who mortgaged plenty of assets to move up (Falcons, Saints, Jags, 49rs etc). Who will be happiest with the move? Who would regret it?
Mel Kiper (2:10 PM)
The 49ers are going to be all about Kaepernick. I Thought that was a reach. I'm not sold on Blaine Gabbert being a future franchise QB. New Orleans and when you look at it with Mark Ingram, he'll be a very good player for them. Julio Jones has to eliminate some of those drops for Atlanta. I really liked their Rodgers pick in the fifth. I'm not an advocate of giving up a lot. Out of them all, I was probably in support of New Orleans' move.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Gary, what did you think about the Cards draft? I think the Cards draft, more than any other teams, will have to be judged by what that they do in Free Agency, specifically to address the QB position & the pass rush. Looking the Cards front 3 (DD, D-Will, Calais) and their secondary (PP7, DRC, A. Wilson,
Mel Kiper (2:11 PM)
Whether they trade for Kevin Kolb or sign Matt Hasselbeck or whoever else, they need to get a QB. They helped out the QB. They got Ryan Williams, Anthony Sherman, Sampson. And Patrick Peterson is a great return man. Everything they did was offensive oriented. The one thing they didn't do is help the OL.
So just to clarify the Panthers have drafted 4 qb's in the 2010/11 drafts (granted 1 moved to WR). Luckily for them they will probably have the no. 1 draft pick again next year and they can take Luck and really build some quality depth at the position.
Mel Kiper (2:13 PM)
It's crazy. It really is. When you think about where they are at QB. They're at the place now where do they just let Cam Newton have the job and not let Clausen in? What do you do if Clausen turns out to be a good QB? Their best case scenario is that Newton siezes control of the team, they win 5 games and they're not even in the mix for the top pick. Newton needs to show up, be the first guy in, first guy out and make everyone forget about Andrew Luck.
What did you think of Elway's first draft in charge? I don't understand the lack of DL help, a huge need for them.
Mel Kiper (2:15 PM)
Overall, I thought what they did was pretty solid. I gave them a B grade Von Miller got them rolling. I had no problem with Rahim Moore. I think their 7th round TE was better than their earlier TE pick. They did a very solid job. They have a ton of needs, so they couldn't fill everything.
Would you have took Nick Fairley instead of Prine Amukamura if your team has no secondary?
Mel Kiper (2:17 PM)
That's the question. You can't have everything. If you went by my ratings, I had Fairley at 5 and I had Amukamara at the 9-10 area. I could see definite reasons to take Fairley. Do you take the highest rated player on the board or do you take a player to fill a need? Now, they didn't get a CB, that was a big area of need. The only thing they didn't get was the CB. You can't get everything you need. They went with the highest rated player. They go 3-4 deep at DT now.
Who was your highest rated player that went undrafted?
Mel Kiper (2:21 PM)
There several: Kendric Burney, CB, UNC; Riccardo Rocket, WR; Darvin Adams, WR, Auburn; Jeremy Ross, WR, Cal; Dane Sanzenbacher, WR, OSU; David Mims, OT, Virginia Union; Garrett Chisolm, OG, South Carolina; Ryan Bartholomew, C, Syracuse; Bellore, LB, Central Michigan; Kevin Rutland, CB, Missouri; Joe Lefeged, S, Rutgers; Mana Silva, S, Hawaii; David Sims, S, Iowa State; Darren Evans, RB, VT; Graig Cooper, RB, Miami; Brandon Saine, RB, OSU; Welsye Saunder, TE, South Carolina; Andre Smith, TE, VT.
Outside of Ponder being stretch pick at 12 for the Vikings, do you believe he is in the right spot in MN and can he be successful with the players around him? With AP in the backfield early on he shouldn't be asked to do too much.
Mel Kiper (2:23 PM)
No question. That was a great spot for him. He has talent around him. He has the RB. He has the skill position players. I thought they had a real good pick with Kyle Rudolph. He's in a good spot. That's not an awful pick. Just because it's a reach it doesn't mean it's a bad pick. If Spielman and Frazier and Musgrave thought this was there guy, they had to go with it.
Mel of the 32 first-round players taken which pick do you think was the best fit for the team they were drafted by?
Mel Kiper (2:24 PM)
I'll give you a couple. San Francisco with Aldon Smith. Anthony Costanzo with the Colts. Jimmy Smith with Baltimore. Mark Ingram with New Orleans. Muhammad Wilkerson with the Jets.
Hey Mel. You're always getting on the Redskins for not having enough choices and respect for the draft. How do you feel about how they handled the draft this year?
Mel Kiper (2:25 PM)
I like the fact that they got a lot of players. They brought in 12 players. It would take them usually 2-3 years for them to get that many. I like the strength in numbers. But they didn't help the OL. They reached a little bit for Jenkins. Overall, I thought they did a decent job, but just didn't help the OL. They did a good job with the OL and RB positions.
How lucky were the Bears to still get Carimi at 29? Where did you have him ranked amongst OT's?
Mel Kiper (2:26 PM)
He was my fourth highest rated OT and overall he would have been right around 22. That's a nice pick for them. Philly taking Danny Watkins let Carimi fall to 29. And Seattle and KC passing on him allowed him to fall to the Bears.
John G (Wis)
Mel, what did you think of the Packers draft? Which players do you feel they got value and which do you think they reached for if any?
Mel Kiper (2:28 PM)
The rich got richer. They have all of those players coming off the injury list. They have 10 players coming in from the draft. 29 players coming into the Super Bowl winner. They got an excellent all around WR in Cobb. They got help at RB. They got an h-back in DJ Williams. Elmore was a nice late pick. They did a good job. I gave them a B+ grade.
Mel, What happened to Dane Sanzenbacher? I thought he was a solid receiver and was voted MVP of an Ohio State team that went 12-1! What was the knock on him? Some team is going to get lucky to get him, agree?
Mel Kiper (2:29 PM)
No question. He would be one of my first undrafted free agent signings. Blair White last year would have been one of my first free agent signings too. The knocks are he's not real big, not real fast. But he's battle tested and smart.
Mel, Any chance Bowers plays 8-10 years in the NFL? Will that knee hold up? Thanks
Mel Kiper (2:31 PM)
8-10 for any player is a lot. You hope to get 5 good years. You don't know about the knee. You're talking about a kid who I thought was the sixth best player in the draft falling to 51. There were a lot of teams concerned about that knee. They have the best young DL in the line, potentially. They have Bowers and Clayborn this year and McCoy and Price last year. That's a very talented, young defensive front for Tampa Bay. What will their nickname be?
Nophel (St. louis)
With how the current roster in St. Louis looks like, most of our wideouts are combaribly slower than others. Will the rams be able to target faster recievers in free agency?
Mel Kiper (2:32 PM)
You can't get everything. They got Kendricks, the nice pass catching TE. Pettis is a nice hands receiver. They don't have a vertical stretch guy. They have Mark Clayton coming off the injury list. These guys will catch the ball.
Mel, do you think the Pats really drafted Mallet as the heir apparent, or future trade bait?
Mel Kiper (2:33 PM)
They definitely drafted him as the potential heir apparent.
Mel Kiper (2:33 PM)
Depending upon on how it goes, you have the option down the road to cut ties with him or trade him, but they drafted him with the potential to being the heir apparent to Brady.
John G (Wis)
Mel, who do you think is a late round steal?
Mel Kiper (2:38 PM)
Let's look at the fifth round on. I like Kealoha Pilares, WR, Hawaii to Carolina. I love Ricky Stanzi to QB. He could be their starter in 2-3 years. I love Jacquizz Rodgers. I like Carter, OLB to the Steelers in the fifth. Aldrick Robinson, WR, to Washington in the sixth. Jordan Todman, RB to the Chargers in the sixth. I like Greg Jones, MLB to the Giants. Ross Holman, LB to the Vikings in the 6th. Virgil Green, TE, Nevada to the Browns. Justin Rogers to the Bills in the 7th round. Stanley Havili, FB, Eagles in the seventh. Lee Ziemba, OT, Carolina, 7th round. And I think Mr. Irrelevant was a nice pick. Cheta Ozougwu, OLB from Rice going to Houston.
Ryan (San Diego)
Does Dalton start week 1 or do the bengals sign veteran QB to groom him like Palmer was?
Mel Kiper (2:39 PM)
They have the option. Dalton is a 5th year senior. If anyone is equipped to play right away, it's Dalton. Dalton, Ponder and Newton are all ready to play the first year.
Mel, how much did the lack of free agency prior to the draft impact how teams made their picks.
Mel Kiper (2:40 PM)
I think teams were trying to think ahead. I think teams like Arizona were looking to make a run at a QB in free agency. We'll have to wait and see how this plays out. You didn't see Seattle or Washington take a QB. You thought they might. Kolb, Bulger, Hasselbeck will all be finding new destinations.
The Show (Chicago)
Did the bears do a good job drafting?
Mel Kiper (2:41 PM)
They didn't have a lot of picks. But I gave it a B. Mike Tice is a big fan of Gabe Carimi. I see a lot of Jimbo Covert in him. Paea is a quick DT. They needed a OT and a DT, so with the first two picks, they got what they needed. But they didn't have a lot of picks.
Nick(Cali) [via mobile]
Mel, Did the chargers reach for players like Mouton and Gilchrist? What did you think about there draft?
Mel Kiper (2:42 PM)
No. Definitely not. I don't think Gilchrist was a reach. Mouton maybe slightly, but I like him as a player.
Is Newton ready to play right away after only playing 1 year of big time football? Or does he HAVE to play right away because of his situation in Carolina?
Mel Kiper (2:44 PM)
That's the debate. Do you sit him and let him watch and learn? Or do you give him the keys to the bus right away. You're the leader, let him play through his mistakes. You only get better by playing. We saw Peyton Manning throw 28 INTs his rookie year. Troy Aikman his rookie year threw 18. John Elway 14. Terry Bradshaw 24. This will be interesting to see what happens.
Mike (Rochester, MN) [via mobile]
Mel, what team do you think had the best day 3?
Mel Kiper (2:46 PM)
Wow. GREAT question. I like what Buffalo did. Baltimore. Cincinnati. Cleveland. Denver. KC. Dallas. Washington. Green Bay. Minnesota. Carolina. Arizona.
Do you think the Bucs made a mistake not addressing their offensive line in the draft? Obviously, they'll have Joseph and Faine coming back from injury, but I thought they'd draft a RT to push James Lee
Mel Kiper (2:48 PM)
The thing that's iffy with them is their right side of their line are free agents. That's the issu. Other than that, it was OK. I wasn't that worried. They could have added an OL, but they did have a good draft. I gave them a B grade.
Mel, I know it's early but how does a potential 2012 draft compare to this years one? Stronger or Weaker? And who are some players we should keep an eye out for this upcoming college football year that will probably be a top 10 or so pick?
Mel Kiper (2:50 PM)
Andrew Luck is going to be the focal point. Matt Barkley could be interesting. Trent Richardson from Alabama, RB. Justin Blackmon, WR, OK State. Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina. Matt Kalil, OT, USC. Matt Reynolds, OT, BYU. Quinton Coples, DE, UNC. Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska. Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama. Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska. Kenny Tate, S, Maryland. Mark Barron, S, Alabama. Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma.
Mel Kiper (2:50 PM)
Some of those guys are juniors.
Mel -- some Browns fans feel as though Taylor was a reach at 21 and Heckert gave away a 3rd rounder to move up and get him. What do you think?
Mel Kiper (2:52 PM)
You could argue it was a questionable move. He's a huge DT. He's a run stuffing DT and he frees up your MLB. If he increases his stamina, he could be a huge player for them. He's like Gilbert Brown, Pat Williams. He doesn't have to be a sack artist to play a vital role.
mel,who gets more carries in the Mo-city this year, Leshoure or Best?
Mel Kiper (2:53 PM)
It's hard to say. They both complement each other. Can Best stay healthy? I think it will be a 1-2 punch. Best averaged under 4 yards per carry. Leshoure never fumbles. He's big. He might be the one carrying the majority of the work load.
What player fell the most in this years draft?
Mel Kiper (2:56 PM)
I was surprised that Edmond Gates slipped to the fourth round. Muhammad Wilkerson slipping to pick 30. I was surprised Virgil Green, TE, Nevada dropped to the 7th round. I was a little surprised that Corey Liuget dropped to pick 18 to San Diego. I was surprised that Leshoure dropped to the late second round. Ross Holman to the sixth round. Jacquizz Rodgers dropped to the fifth round. I was surprised that Mark Ingram dropped to 28 and Cameron Jordan dropped. Da'Quan Bowers to 51. Quan Sturdivant, LB, UNC dropped to the sixth round.
Mel: I've got AJ Green and Patrick Peterson as the respective Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the year. Who do you got winning it?
Mel Kiper (2:57 PM)
I don't know who's going to throw the ball to AJ Green. If it's Andy Dalton, I would have to ammend that. If it's Carson Palmer, then you might be right. It's tough for CB to learn right away and adjust to NFL receivers. I'd probably go with Aldon Smith on defense and Mark Ingram on offense.
Mel Kiper (2:59 PM)
We had a great year. A fun ride. We started in late August and we ended in early May. We'll do the same thing next year. I wish everyone a safe, happy, fun filled summer. Lot of beach time, BBQ time, fun in the sun. Hopefully, we'll keep our fingers crossed when we start chatting up in August. Hopefully we've had a training camp. I don't want to come back and not have any football taking place. That would be devastating if we're talking August 24 and there's no NFL football.
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