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!
Mel, what is your take on Keith Price? is he a legit prospect? what about Polk and their TE Jenkins?
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
He's a third-year sophomore, so he's young. Polk has had an oustanding year, the junior RB. That make Price's job easier. Price is completing 68.3% of his passes. He gives you a lot of ability. He can pick up first downs with his legs. He's a good athlete. He's thrown the ball a lot better this year than anybody anticipated. He's a very good passing QB and he surprised people with that. He's only 6-1, 198. Last year, he had the one start at Oregon and completed 14-28. He's got talent. He's out of the prep ranks in Compton. He's only a third year sophomore, but he's on the radar. He's got a bright future. He's completing passes at a rate that Jake Locker never got to. Last year, Locker only got to 55.4 percent. And Price has 17 TDs to 4 INTs. Polk is averaging 5.3 ypc. He's also a good receiver out of the backfield.
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
Washington is 4-1 with the big upset over Utah last week. They're off this week. After that, they have some tough games: @Stanford, v. Oregon, @USC, then the Apple Cup with Washington State at the end of November. That should be a good Apple Cup.
What do you think about Rob Ryan saying that Calvin Johnson would only be the 3rd best WR on the Cowboys? At what point do players look at coaches like the Ryan brothers and say "shut your mouth, we are the ones who have to play against these guys"
Mel Kiper (1:11 PM)
I think it's something that Rob will probably regret saying. I've never been one to fire up and motivate other players. That's never been my way. Those comments not only fire up the player, but the entire team. Calvin Johnson is very popular with his teammates. I don't like to give motivation to anybody. He would be the best WR on that team. He's better than Dez Bryant. Bryant has potential, but Calvin Johnson would clearly be the best WR on that team. I have no problem with you praising your own.
Hi Mel, Where has Robert Quinn been? I know you and many scouts were extremely high on him? I know he didn't play last year but do you still see a bright future for him, or is he the next Vernon Gohlston?
Mel Kiper (1:12 PM)
I would think right now, he had his year of inactivity. That really does effect players. Greg Little didn't play last year and he's producing nice results. Some players are effected differently. That was one factor that you were conservative in the final evaluation with Quinn. My last comment was: "The lack of a 2010 body of work and his time away from the game is cause for concern. The NFL isn't the ACC. You can dominant in the ACC on talent alone. Technique is critical in the NFL." I think that year has caused him to be someone who's slower in contributing.
I don't see Montee Ball on any of your lists, where does he fall short in terms of becoming a solid NFL running back?
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
He has a chance to be a solid NFL RB. The thing about him is he dropped some weight coming into the year. He was around 230. He's playing this year around 210. He's quicker and maintained his power as a runner. He's a junior. He's in a junior group that's strong. Trent Richardson. James. Polk. David Wilson. Graham. Ball would be in the top 10 juniors, but just not in my top 5-6.
Jared Lee (Indy)
What would you think of a team like Indy grabbing Robert Griffin, hes a project so you wouldn't have to worry about them rushing Peyton Manning out of time, and with his physical attributes and intelligence he could really learn a lot from the greatest to ever do it!
Mel Kiper (1:15 PM)
Pass on Luck with the first pick to take Robert Griffin III? Luck is once in a long time player. There's not many players that come along like him. The grade should be that of someone like Peyton Manning coming out. I think Indy has to take him if they have the No. 1 pick. Griffin is a talent. Is he going to have a grade like Luck? It won't even be close. He won't even be the second highest rated QB. Landry Jones will be. And he'll probably need another year in college. He'll probably be the fourth highest rated QB this year. Next year, with the other junior leaving early, he'd go in clearly as the No. 1 QB in the country.
Do you see the Lions beating the Bears on Monday
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
It's going to be electric in Detroit. To have the Lions on a Monday night at 4-0 and they're the buzz of the league. They were the trendy surprise team this year. They drafted well. They have a franchise QB. The question was would Stafford get the help from the OL to keep him healthy. The OL improved last week. They're getting a lot of contributions on offense. The Lions are going to come after Cutler hard. It will be interesting to see how the Bears OL plays.
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
Right now, the Lions are 4-0 and they have a bye Nov. 6. They have Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, at Denver. They're 3-0 on the road so far and 1-0 at home and now they have three straight home games.
Mel Kiper (1:20 PM)
My prediction back in August is 10-6 for them and I'll stick to that. The schedule, they have 6 of their final 8 games are very, very tough.
Mel,Why isn't Matt Forte considered an elite running back in the league. The Bears won't even give him a new contract. He's been a one man show so far for Chicago this year. He's carried their entire office whether catching passes or (oh yeah) running.
Mel Kiper (1:24 PM)
He's one of the true underrated players in the NFL when you think about what he's done. He was underrated coming into the draft out of Tulane. He was a second round pick, which surprised some people. He's not going to dazzle you, but he's a versatile multi-dimensional back. I don't know what Mike Martz thinks, but you just have to ride him. He's got 22 catches in four games. He's averaging 3.4 ypc, but they haven't run the ball that much. Against New Orleans, Forte had 10 carries, 49 yards. Green Bay, 9-2. He had 19 carries in two games, both losses. He had 16 carries in their win over Atlanta in the first week. This past week, sure it was against Carolina, he had 25 carries. The common denominator is when they give him the ball, they win games. They need to strike some balance. With an OL that's suspect, you can't have Cutler dropping back there.
J Treehorn (Malibu)
Do you foresee a higher professional ceiling for Trent Richardson or Mark Ingram?
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
I would say probably Richardson. He has great power and quickness. He's been injury free (knock on wood), while Ingram has not. Trent is a multidimensional player. He's an Earl Campbell, Adrian Peterson type when it comes to dragging people. I had some people on Twitter comparing him to Peterson, but I went back to Campbell, because I'm old. Richardson, as of today, is No. 7 on my Big Board.
Corey (Greenville, SC)
Clemson has really been the topic of discussion lately and rightfully so. What surprises me is their roster consists of mainly Freshman and Sophomores. If Clemson can continue to win do you see the start of a possible 3 or 4 year era with these young talented players? Thanks
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
Most definitely! Talent has saved the day there. Last week, VT's defense got the best of their offense, but their defense stepped up. Watkins is the best true freshman. They have one of the best TEs coming back, if he returns. Their losses will be on the defensive side. Thompson. Branch. But they have a lot of good young players. They're recruiting exceptionally well. Let's face facts, they have a shot to be right in the mix of things. You've already beaten Auburn, Florida State and Virginia Tech. Two teams that could have been in the mix for this year's national title as well as the defending national champ. Now the schedule gets a bit easier. Maryland. UNC. Georgia Tech will be a tough game, because they can run it down your throat.
Mel Kiper (1:29 PM)
They're a minimum 9-win team this year.
Is La Mike James helping his draft status with his excellent job returning punts this year?
Mel Kiper (1:32 PM)
Yes. That's exactly the point I made in Personnel Points on Sept. 26. He was coming off a career high performance against Arizona. He had two catches. He returned a punt for 51 yards. This year he's shown that he can handle a heavy workload. He had 294 carries last season. He can run between the tackle, even though he's at 5-8, 195. The difference is he's been incorporated more into the passing game this year. He only had 17 catches all of last year. He's at 11 now. And he's been given a chance this year to return punts, because of Cliff Harris being out. This is the first time in his career of returning punts. The decision that he made to go back to Oregon for another year definitely has proven beneficial to improve his draft stock.
Pierre (Rochester, NY)
When do you think Frazier will finally give Ponder the starting job?
Mel Kiper (1:35 PM)
I would have thought it would have been by now. Newton started the year. Dalton too. Gabbert is in there now. All of these teams have incorporated the young QBs into the mix. Jake Locker won't get the chance just yet because of Matt Hasselbeck playing well. Minnesota right now, at 0-4 if they lose to Arizona at home this week, they're front and center of the Luck Sweepstakes. Look at their schedule, they've already lost to KC. I can see them winning only 2 games, if they lose this week. At 2-14, that can get you Luck. The Colts will be there right with them. That might be the battle there. But I want to know what Christian Ponder can do before going into the draft. McNabb is not igniting this offense. I would make the move right now. They do have a bye week Nov. 6. But the problem is after the bye, they play Green Bay. That might not be the best time to bring him out. Bottom line, I would have already made that change.
Mel Kiper (1:37 PM)
I liked Chad Pennington a lot. He was a very good NFL QB. I think Ponder can be like Chad Pennington. Andrew Luck can be like Peyton Manning. Maybe a little more athletic. Would you rather have Peyton Manning or Chad Pennington? I like Chad, but he's not a hall of famer, Peyton Manning is.
Do you think Alex Smith will continue his steady play?
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
He's gotten help. Jim Harbaugh, what he's meant to that program, does not go unnoticed. There's no question. That whole Harbaugh family is a family of coaches. Frank Gore was outstanding for them last week. They're getting contributions from Kendall Hunter. Josh Morgan. Crabtree. Vernon Davis. Defensively, Novarro, Willis have been all over the field. Smith has a couple of sacks. Aldon Smith has shown he can be an impact guy. Alex is completing 67 percent of his passes. 4 TDs, 1 INT. He made some throws to bring them back against the Eagles. They have a shot to be 4-2 going into the bye. They come out with 3 of 4 at home. The schedule is not that difficult. Cleveland, Washington, St. Louis, Arizona, Seattle. Those are some games that they could get to 10-6. Very doable.
Mel Kiper (1:41 PM)
He made some key throws last week. He had to make some throws to get them back into the game. There's no talk about Kapernick stepping in right now.
Mel, What are your thoughts on James Vandenberg, QB, Iowa? I think he is a much better pro prospect than Stanzi.
Mel Kiper (1:44 PM)
He's a guy with an arm. That's the thing about Vandenberg. He has the tools. Accurate passer. Throws a nice ball. Some decision making issues coming in. Great LT Riley Reiff protects his left side. He protects the blind side. 62.8% 10 TDs, 1 INT, so he has improved his decision making and it's been good. He's 6-2, 6-3. He entered this season with 5 INTs and 3 TDs. He's got a chance at an NFL future.
Robbie (Lindsey, Ca)
After hearing the news about Henne, Do u think that Miami makes a move for Garrard?
Mel Kiper (1:46 PM)
They have Matt Moore to step in. They've got a record that might indicate that they'll make some changes in the organization. Sporano is on the hot seat. They have some winnable games down the road. But they're a team right now that's had a rough go of it. Garrard would be a stop gap. He hasn't played. They need a QB. Henne is still wildly inconsistent. That's been his history. He had first round size and first round arm, but he was inconsistent and he was a second round pick. He's had too many ups and downs. I don't think they'll be Andrew Luck, but they still have to look at a Jones, Barkley, Griffin.
Michael K (Tujunga, CA)
When Robert Woods does decided to come out will he be a top 5 pick?
Mel Kiper (1:47 PM)
It depends on what he runs and the workouts and how he plays next year. He's been a multidimensional WR. Very hard worker. Stays after practice to work with Barkley. Very involved in the game of football. Yeah, he has a chance, but he's only a true sophomore.
How many Badger offensive lineman get drafted this year?
Mel Kiper (1:49 PM)
Zeitler, senior OG, he's my second highest rated guard; then you have underclassman. Peter Konz, my No. 1 rated junior C; Travis Frederick is one of the top sophomore OG. Josh Oglesby is a senior and draftable, a mid-round grade.
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
Two definitely draftable in the seniors. The juniors have potential if they come out. So four total possible.
Where do the UF running backs grade out in the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:51 PM)
Right now, I have Chris Rainey, the third highest senior RB. Demps is fifth. Rainey is quick, can catch the ball out of the backfield. Elusive. Second fastest guy on the team behind Demps. Demps is one of the fastest players in the country. Not as elusive as Rainey, but faster. Demps could be in the 4.28-4.35 range. They both could be in the 4.3 range.
Jeff M (Bristol Tennessee)
how do you see the Tennessee - Georgia Game playing out this weekend?
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
That's one of the games of the week for me. A great talent evaluation game. Charles. Tauren Toole. Georgia is loaded with good young players. Tyler Bray is the No. 1 rated sophomore QB. Georgia has righted things a little bit after the 0-2 start, winning 3 straight. For Tennessee, they're 3-1, bouncing back from that loss to Florida.
Mel Kiper (1:55 PM)
Some of the best true freshman will be on the field for Georgia. Crowell and Mitchell on offense. Drew Butler is the top senior punter. He's Kevin Butler's son. Blair Walsh is the No. 1 placekicker. Both from Georgia.
Is Coby Fleener the #1 tight end? I heard he's the second fastest player on Stanford's team.
Mel Kiper (1:56 PM)
He's a nice player. He's had a great year. He's one of the key targets for Luck. They're loaded at TE. He could run 4.68-4.73. He's 6-5, 6-6, 245. He's very effective stretching that deep middle. He's an outstanding player. He's a fifth-year senior. Good strong player. Athletic as well.
Do you got Nick Toon getting drafted?
Mel Kiper (1:59 PM)
Definitely. Al Toon is his father. He was a first round pick. He's the primary target for Russell Wilson. If he runs a good 40 at the combine, he could be a guy that's a solid second round pick. He's 6-2, 220. He added weight during the offseason. He's always been able to make the circus catches. Late first could even be a possibility. But solid second and he's climbing.
Mel Kiper (2:00 PM)
We covered a lot of ground. A lot of big games this weekend.