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. 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 Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (1:00 PM)
We've got Mel!
Can the vikings win with McNabb?
Mel Kiper (1:03 PM)
No. Based on what I saw of him with the Redskins last year, he was not the QB he was. He's slipped. A team that was 8-8 on paper, can he get them to that? Maybe. I think Ponder is their future and I wouldn't be surprised if they went with him at some point. McNabb was 7-15. Adrian Peterson carried the team. Jenkins had 3 catches for an 8.7 ypc average. In this era where every rule favors the offense and you have a WR with an 8.7 average, that's not acceptable. If you have a QB that can move the ball, you win that game.
Dave (San Francisco, CA)
Mel, what did you make of the first starts of Cam Newton and Andy Dalton (aside from the wrist injury)?
Mel Kiper (1:06 PM)
I thought Newton played extremely well for the first start of his career. He obviously took advantage of the problems the Cardinals have on defense. Steve Smith came ready to play. He appears to really want to do well for Newton. Steve Smith seems like he'll have a real good season for Newton. Jon Beason's injury hurts the defense. There were some major breakdowns late for Carolina. There are some major personnel issues on this team, but Newton showed well. Can you say he'll have a hall of fame career? No. Not yet. I don't know that you'll find out too much as a rookie. If he starts off better than expected, then you're off to the races. If you struggle, well, you're supposed to struggle. There will be four of the next five games that will be pretty good tests for Cam Newton. You can count on one hand the rookie QBs that were successful as starters. THat's how rare outstanding rookies are for QB.
Mel Kiper (1:07 PM)
Dalton, for the talent around him, you're talking about a team that was supposed to be a bottom echelon team. Before he got hurt, he was 10-15, 5.4 ypp. He had the short TD pass and the one fumble. Overall, before he got hurt, I thought he accounted himself very well. He did a decent job for a rookie.
Adam (Fort Worth)
Can anyone take the number one spot from Andrew Luck based on play as opposed to team need?
Mel Kiper (1:11 PM)
No. Not based on play. I don't think that's going to happen. The only thing that could happen is injury. You keep your fingers crossed that doesn't happen. If you have a great QB, you're not picking Luck. But if Indy picks No. 1, they take him, especially if Manning misses the entire year. KC has to be in the mix for the No. 1 spot. They were dominated by Buffalo. They lost Eric Berry for the year. They only managed 13 first downs. They only threw for 105 yards. 3 turnovers. They allowed Buffalo to hold the ball for 37 minutes. Matt Cassel averaged 3.3 ypp. That's amazingly low. Buffalo made Ryan Fitzpatrick look like Dan Marino out there. KC, if they had a chance to get Luck, would they take him? Sure. Seattle. Depending on how Cam Newton's year goes, I don't think Carolina picks Luck if they get the No. 1 pick. They picked Clausen two years ago and Newton No. 1 overall this year. They might look to trade it and get value for the pick.
How good will the lions be this year? Playoffs? What about Stafford..could he become a top 5 qb eventually?
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
Yes, he can. He's a franchise QB. I said that before he was drafted. I said that when he was coming out of high school. I can think about maybe three QBs in the history of the NFL that have as strong an arm. The only thing that prevented him the last couple of years of establishing himself are injuries. He has weapons around him now. Best in the backfield. Calvin Johnson at WR. Pettigrew is an excellent young TE. Scheffler is a good TE. And they've gotten nothing out of Titus Young so far. They won't have Leshoure this season with the injury. And Nick Fairley is out. Leshoure, Young and Fairley, they've gotten nothing yet and they're still a good team. They'll be right there with Chicago battling for the second spot in that division. They're not taking out Green Bay.
Mel Kiper (1:14 PM)
If we're talking next week and they lost this game coming up, we've overrated the Lions.
Which O-Line will fare better this weekend, FSU or OU?
Mel Kiper (1:16 PM)
I think FSU's will. The interesting thing in this game is both teams have great pass rushers. OU has Rommell Lewis and FSU has Brandon Jenkins. Both are juniors and both are great natural pass rushers. FSU has two senior OTs in Zebrie Sanders and Andrew Datko. FSU may have a slight edge. It will be interesting to see who contains the great DE. I give FSU the edge in that area.
Mel, what is up with my Falcons man? They looked AWFUL in pre-season and pretty bad on offensive last week against "da bears" and it seems we should be playing a lot better on that side of the ball, probably better than we did last year?? What gives??
Mel Kiper (1:19 PM)
I think the OL is the big issue right now. That's the big problem area. The Bears have the great pass rush, but if you think about the way that game unfolded, they were handled up front. Matt Ryan is not a scrambler, he's a pocket passer. They did a bad job on Sunday. They gave up two sacks to Peppers, Melton. Okoye had one. They hit Ryan almost 12 times. That's the concern. And you look at the defense and the struggles there. They balanced out on offense with Matt Forte. Atlanta just couldn't get anything going. It all starts on the OL. This was a team that was talked about as a Super Bowl team. They have Philly this week. But then they could still be 2-2 and then they have a couple of home games. They don't want to go 0-2, but they have some winnable games coming up. If they have any hope at all of winning the division over New Orleans, they need a way to protect Matt Ryan.
Mark (Toronto, Ontario)
Hey Mel,How many possible first round worthy QBs could be available in the 2012 draft? There are a lot of intriguing Qbs this year.
Mel Kiper (1:20 PM)
I would say three. Luck, Barkley and Landry Jones. Those are your three. All three could be early. Luck is No. 1, Barkley is No. 3 and Jones at 6 on the Big Board. There is a drop off after that.
Josh (Quad Cities)
How about Watt and Kerrigan? Couple rookies already making an impact. Can we expect this from Big 10 players in the coming years or was last year just unusually strong for the conference.
Mel Kiper (1:22 PM)
It's a case where there are some guys out there that have a chance to be good prospects. Watt had 5 tackles and got after the QB. Kerrigan, the big thing for him was the INT and the TD return. That was in the third quarter when it was a 14-14 game. Here's a guy, if you look at his numbers, he had 5 tackles, the INT and the TD. He was active, just like in the preseason. He was a distruptive force again.
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
This year, Jared Crick from Nebraska; Jerrel Worthy, Michigan State are two guys that have a chance for first round grades.
What is your take on Russell Wilson? Can he play QB in the NFL with his shorter stature?
Mel Kiper (1:26 PM)
Yes, he can play in the NFL as a QB. He throws so effectively on the run. He's accurate. He's a playmaker. He was at NC State and he is at Wisconsin. They have NIU this week. They have some ability. They have South Dakota. Then they have Nebraska Oct. 1. That's a huge game. They have tough back-to-back road games at the end of October. Those are the toughest games on the schedule. The three toughest games are Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio State. Wilson is a true playmaker. He did the same thing at NC State. Accuracy and athleticism are the biggest things. For someone without ideal height is he has good vision. He can run when he gets outside the pockets. Or if you bite and come up, he can throw over the top. He's a tough QB to deal with, one of the best in the country.
J Tyler (Aberdeen)
DO you think Randall Cobb has a chance to be the Rookie of the year?
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
He is a potential. The last thing I said about him in the draft book is he's so versatile. That's what made him such an intriguing prospect. You can do WR screens. He can throw the ball. He can return. He can do whatever you want. He's 5-10, 190. He had 2,192 all-purpose yards at Kentucky. He's a tremendously multitalented football player. He's just another weapon for Green Bay. He had a couple of big plays in a game the Packers won by 8. His value was already felt. He's a difference maker and a playmaker.
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
This is a guy that went in the second round of the draft. There were some that believed he could have been a late first round pick and no one would have questioned it.
How high do you think Ryan Tannehill can rise on your big board based on his performace in the next few weeks?
Mel Kiper (1:31 PM)
The next few weeks, he's No. 5 in terms of senior QBs, and A-M has to play OSU, Arkansas, Texas Tech and Baylor and an improved Iowa State team on the road. After that, Oklahoma, Texas. The schedule is tough. We knew they had road games at Tech, Oklahoma. It's going to be a challenge for them. Tannehill gives you a chance. He gives you a chance, when the play breaks down to make a play. He extends play. He makes good decisions. He's 6-4 and he has a great arm. He has two outstanding RBs to lean on. He has a good OL. It's solid. This team should put up some big numbers as this season rolls on. OSU and Arkansas are back to back weeks. The schedule will give him a chance to show his value to the NFL scouts.
I think the Falcons are trying to hard to justify the Julio Jones pick with what they are doing on offense. I think they need to go back to a power running game and pass off play action. Your thoughts?
Mel Kiper (1:35 PM)
You always try to justify moving up to get someone. They only threw the ball to him 6 times. He had 5 catches. They tried White 13 times. White had 8 catches. Turner ran for over 100 yards. But when you get behind, you're not going to be able to run. At half, you're down 16-3. And in the fourth you're down 30-6. Against Chicago, you don't want to drop back 47 times. Atlanta came into this game a slight favorite. It was a game that people thought Atlanta could win. But Chicago made a lot of that happen. Atlanta had more total yards than Chicago. Falling behind early was big. It took them out of what they wanted to do.
Nate (Fayetteville, AR)
Any guys on either side of the ball your keeping a particular eye on here at Arkansas? Big game coming up next weekend against Bama. Hope to see Joe Adams do things against some real competition.
Mel Kiper (1:36 PM)
Definitely. Unfortunately Knile Davis is out for the year. He was one of their top guys. He'll be back next year as a fourth year junior. Durability is now becoming an issue. They do have Childs at WR; Wright at WR; Joe Adams; Tyler Wilson; Franklin at LB; Thomas at safety; Bequette, DE. The best pro prospect now that Davis is hurt is Thomas and Childs.
Mel, Auburn junior TE Philip Lutzenkirchen catches everything...he reminds me of Dallas Clark. Where do you see him being drafted when he does move on to the NFL?
Mel Kiper (1:38 PM)
He could be a variety of things. The way he catches the ball, he could be an H-back. He's 6-4, very athletic. They're going to use him more of a blocking fullback this year. I see him as an H-back. He has the size. He can block. He's very athletic.
Ryan (Medford OR)
You got your wish. I read in your chat last year you wanted LaMichael James to return punts and/or kicks. He has gotten 1 and returned it for a TD. Is he a first rounder?
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
I don't know about a first rounder. RBs usually drop further than they should. But the more versatile, the better off you'll be. He's only about 5-7, 5-8. But he's a very impressive pure RB. Size may push him down a bit. He's added about 10-15 pounds. He's up to about 195. I don't mind the shorter RBs. I prefer 5-8 to 6-1, 6-2. He's improving as a pass receiver. That's what he needs. If he does that and the returns...he plays with a lot of desire...that will help make him a multi-dimensional player. He went into the year not being that, but this year, he's showing he is more than that.
Jalky (Dodgeville MI)
With three rookies (Carimi, Moffitt, and Nagy - who was a backup last year) starting on NFL O-lines week one is there a chance that the Wisconsin OL is even better this year? Scary thought for the opposition.
Mel Kiper (1:43 PM)
I don't know if they'll be better. Carimi and Moffitt were outstanding players. They have Peter Konz at center and senior guard Kevin Zeitler. Also, Ricky Wagner. Those are your guys for Wisconsin's OL. Konz is a big center. He's 6-4, 310. They pull him a lot. He's mobile and very athletic for his size. He's the best junior C in the nation. Zeitler is my No. 2 senior guard. He's a destroyer. He's kind of like Carimi at OT. He's a super hard worker and a mauler. Wagner needs to make a few strides.
what is something positive i can take out of the brutal game for the Rams?
Mel Kiper (1:45 PM)
That was a disaster. The injuries they sustained. Jackson. Bradford. Amendola was a huge loss. He's a poor man's Wes Welker. The positive? Williams running well for Jackson. He caught 6 passes out of the backfield. Williams accounted for 140 total yards. As far as the defense, nothing exciting there. But Williams was a bright spot.
Lion Bryan (Iraq)
Can Louis Delmas be a game changing Safety? Like a Reed, Palumalu, Sharper...
Mel Kiper (1:47 PM)
He's a good player. He's a very instinctive player. The Lions are strong up the middle potentially. They are a team strong up the middle. Delmas is a very good player. He got a little banged up last week. but he's a very instinctive playmaking safety.
Scratches (D'ham, NC)
Who's the first player from the Crimson Tide to get drafted this year?
Mel Kiper (1:49 PM)
I'll go on record as saying the first one will be Trent Richardson. Runs hard. Lot of power in that body. Aggressive. Hard nosed runner. After initial contact, he's an aggressive hard charging runner. He's got a powerful lower body, upper body. He'll come off the board somewhere in the middle of the first round. He's my No. 1 RB available on my draft board.
Deon (casa grande az)
Mel do you believe the 49ers can keep winning there are obviously problems with there secondary as usual i was hoping they would take a DB 1st but instead they draft a guy who didn't even break the starting lineup and are the jets going past the AFC championship game and on to the super bowl
Mel Kiper (1:53 PM)
They have some good personnel on that side of the ball. They have some good defensive players, with Patrick Willis as the big one. The big thing for them is the QB issue. Alex Smith wasn't great, but solid. Mistake free. Gore only averaged 2.7 per carry. They got nothing out of their running game. Crabtree only had one catch. Vernon Davis was their leading receiver. They were able to benefit from a Seattle team that has problems. Neither team could run the ball. Heavily penalized game. 20 penalties combined. Ridiculous amount. Neither team could pass either. It was a bunch of field goals, special teams TDs by Ted Ginn. The offense was non-existent because both teams have QB issues. Will San Francisco make the move to Colin Kapernick. I want to see Aldin Smith become a force off the edge. That will be important for their defense. Seattle was in reverse. This will be a bigger test this week for the 49ers against Dallas. In two weeks they have Philly on the road.
Hardy (Las Vegas)
What Rookie Cornerbacks have impress you the most, from Week 1 through Preseason? Which CB do you see making the biggest impact going forward this season?
Mel Kiper (1:55 PM)
Ras'I Dowling battled hard the whole game. Hung in there. I thought he did a good job. It was a shame Jimmy Smith got hurt early against the Steelers. Patrick Peterson had the big punt return for a TD. He got beat on the TD pass by Cam Newton, but it was a perfectly thrown ball.
Will Kurt Cousins from Michigan State be drafted next April?
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
He will definitely be drafted. He's one of my highest rated senior QBs. He's got a chance to be a Day 2 pick. What he needed to do this year and will moving forward, they haven't been tested so far this year...he could end up being the winningest QB in MSU history. He has 18 wins, the record is 21....he made some bad decisions in the red zone. He threw some INTs in the red zone last year. He needs to be more patient. That's where you have to see the improvement this year. He has the talent and the ability. They have a lot of weapons around him. They have some good WRs. The OL has to hold up. They had to replace some starters there. They're going into South Bend to play Notre Dame who is reeling after an 0-2 start. MSU wants to make a statement, especially after having a big loss in the bowl game last year. This is a potential statement game.
Mel Kiper (1:59 PM)
It was a fun start to the NFL season. We have some great games. Enjoy the games. We'll be back next week.