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 (1:02 PM)
Mel is here!
Billy (Eastchester, NY)
Hi, Mel. How many Alabama defenders do you see going in the first round this year?
Mel Kiper (1:04 PM)
The first rounders would be Courtney Upshaw, OLB, who would be an ideal 3-4 like Lamarr Woodley, he's No. 18 on my Big Board; Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, junior, No. 25 on my Big Board. Those would be the two possibilities in the first round. Also, Mark Barron, S, senior, he's up in the borderline, late first early second round area.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think is the Best Rookie Quarterback in the NFL This season?
Mel Kiper (1:05 PM)
I would still go with Cam Newton. With what he's done on a bad team. They been better and Cam's been a part of that. He's had his shaky performances, but he's given them hope. They've been in games basically the entire season. They're starting to win a couple now. They've been very competitive in every game. He's got franchise QB written all over him. I would say Cam Newton.
Mel Kiper (1:06 PM)
With Andy Dalton second.
Have the last two games exposed the WI o-line as overrated?
Mel Kiper (1:07 PM)
You have to look at who they've played. They went up against Michigan State and Ohio State. You could say overrated, but none of those guys have first round grades. We've always said that's a great college line, but there's no Joe Thomas or even a Gabe Carimi. Nobody on that line has a first round grade right now. The highest one is Zeitler and he's a third round possibility. I don't say they're overrated. They just don't have the one super stud on the OL like they did the last couple of years.
Mel, how does the talent on LSU or Bama compare to that stacked Miami team that won the title in 2001 I believe it was?
Mel Kiper (1:09 PM)
I think the Miami team was better. The Miami teams in the past were better. I think the Bama team from two years ago was better. Dareus, Cody, McClain, Jackson, Arenas. You have a lot of teams in college football over the last 20 years that are better than these teams. It's not even close.
What do you think of the Bears' Chris Williams transition from LT to LG? Was he never a legitimate NFL LT in the first place?
Mel Kiper (1:11 PM)
He was supposed to be. He was drafted to be a 10-year LT, a guy to solidify that blind side. He was drafted to be a LT, not LG. There's a safety net always for OL. If you're a DL, WR, RB, what are you going to do? If you're a CB, you can move to safety. If you're a OT, you can move to OG. Look at Michael Oher, he was drafted to be a OT. What you hope to do is get a solid career at OG. He was not drafted to be a OG, he failed.
Is there any chance that Luck sticks it to the NFL and stays at Stanford again?
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
No. It would make absolutely no sense. I would never say 100%, but it's 99.999%. You can't give up two years of earning power. You never know what's going to happen in football. You'll basically be set for life financially with one contract. He went back to college to graduate and he's doing that. So, why would he stay? Then there are questions, why are you staying? Are you afraid of the NFL? I would be concerned about that. Plus, he'll lose some good players. He's going to lose a OT, OG, WR. I would say there's no chance of that happening. There would be no reason.
Dan (Bridgeport, CT)
Mel, is Zach Brown OLB UNC this years Von Miller, do you see him going in the top 10?
Mel Kiper (1:15 PM)
Not as big as Von Miller. He's fast, athletic. Not the same kind of player. He's not that sack artist that Miller was. Last season, he had no sacks. He's improved and shown more impact ability this year. Right now, he has 5.5 sacks. Last year, he had only 1.5 tackles for loss, this year 9.5. He had three picks last year, that was his impact. This year, he's attacking the line and making big plays. This is a guy that has tremendous speed, great in coverage. He's on the Big Board now at No. 21 and climbing. He's shown better instincts this year in finding the ball.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Why has Joe Flacco regressed?
Mel Kiper (1:19 PM)
I think the big thing is the OL, first of all. That's been a major, major problem in the first half of the season. McKinnie has struggled with the quick pass rushers. Their OL has prevented Flacco from a week in, week out standout. The other thing is the WRs. They're relying on two rookies, one that's an undrafted free agent. They have two young TEs, with blocking as an issue. That's all impacted Joe Flacco. He's got to do a better job in the pocket. People talk about his lack of emotion, but you can spin that anyway you want. When you're winning, he's calm, cool, collected. This year, it's he doesn't show enough emotion. But they're 5-2 and the winner this weekend with Pittsburgh is in first place. Flacco is a good NFL QB. If you think he's going to be great, you'll probably be disappointed.
Chris, Houston, TX [via mobile]
What do u see as Oklahoma QB Landry Jones biggest flaw as a prospect?
Mel Kiper (1:21 PM)
As all young QBs, he's used to playing in an offense that's pitch and catch. And he has a tendency to stare down his primary target. He's not Sam Bradford. That comparison is not fair. This guy is a big, strong armed QB. Good accuracy, not phenomenal. He's got a guy to be a good QB in the NFL. Does he have elite written on him? That's debateable. He'll probably be a top 5-10 pick in the draft.
Can you give me your opinion on WKU running back Bobby Rainey. Will he get drafted? Where and what kind of team? I think that he is just a good football player that deserves a shot.
Mel Kiper (1:24 PM)
WKU is a team that's done a good job. Rainey has been a one man band during his career. He's only about 5-8. He's compact. He's got some versatility. He'll get a look in the later rounds and be under consideration. He's on a team now that's shown this year that they can play with some of the Sun Belt Conference. They're 4-4. They were 2-10 last year and got better from midseason on. They won 2 games late in the year. They're headed in the right direction.
How many NFL scouts will be at the LSU vs. AL game?
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
All of the scouts have been at these LSU-Alabama games the last few years. I counted 17 draft eligible prospects for Alabama and 10 for LSU. The young players edge goes to LSU as far as starters. I think scouts are always going to be coming in droves to Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge. They always have a ton of talent.
does LSU's O have better success agaisnt Bama's D than Bama's O against LSU's D? or vice versa?
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
Basically, you talk about who's going to win the game. These two teams are very close. Vegas has Alabama as a 5-point favorite. That's a little high. I thought it would be 3, at the most 4. I give the edge at QB to Alabama and RB. LSU at WR. The OLs are comparable, same with DL. DBs, LSU. LBs, Bama. Tyrann Mathieu is a dynamic special teams player. He can block punts, return punts. He could have a big impact and swing momentum one way or another. Then Marquis Maze. You think about the skill level of these two teams, they're loaded.
Are you more impressed with Matt Barkley after he played Stanford really well?
Mel Kiper (1:30 PM)
Barkley, I've had a pretty solid grade all year. I haven't waivered on him. I don't think he'll be elite, but a solid QB in the NFL. If you want a guy in that 10-15 area, that's where he'll fit in. He's only a junior, and I have him at No. 10 on the Big Board. If he comes back, maybe he gets into the top 3-5. There is a lot of talent around the QB, but they have to build the OL up. LEt's see what Barkley expects to do. Against Stanford, they had some dropped balls. A couple of them would be huge.
Mel Kiper (1:31 PM)
Some of them were tough catches, but these guys are talented enough to come up with those catches. If the recievers had come up with some of them USC would have won.
Currently there are a lot of ILBs on your Big Board. Who do you think would be a good fit for the Bears, given Brian Urlachers age.
Mel Kiper (1:32 PM)
You would look at the three: Luke Kuechly, Manti Te'o and Burfict. They will go in the first round. Every one of those guys are juniors.
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
The guy that has the most upside is Burfict. He just has to settle down and play under more control. If he were a little more consistent and had a more controlled rage on the field and not have the late hits and personal fouls, he would be the guy that has the chance to be the best.
Mel: I have been impressed by the fact that the Steelers have suffered so many injuries but keep winning. Can they beat the Ravens with all these injuries and what are the keys to the game?
Mel Kiper (1:37 PM)
First of all, they had injuries and beat New England. The Steelers are a great team and organization because they don't cry about injuries. I've even heard high school teams crying about injuries. College teams too. You never hear the Steelers saying that. Everyone on that roster knows they're on the roster because they can play. They prepare that way. If someone gets hurt, they man up and play like a Steeler. That's one thing that I respect about the Steelers. They play the game the right way. They have a chance to win that game. New England went in there as a favorite and got beat. They have a bye week coming up Nov. 20. That will be a big week for them. Then their schedule gets more favorable. Cleveland. Cincinnati. St. Louis. All on the schedule. If they can get healthy after the bye, they can very easily go 5-1 after the bye to be a 11-12 win team.
Dan (Washington, DC)
What's the difference between Barkely and Leinart?
Mel Kiper (1:39 PM)
We don't know yet. Matt Cassel came out of USC. Carson Palmer. They've had some QBs come through. Leinart is a backup in Houston and they like him. He's a top notch backup. He could be a starter in some places. Matt's kind of ressurected his career. Arizona kicked him to the curb. I could see him being a starter somewhere down the road. Barkley will go somewhere in the same area that Leinart did.
Who do you see as the First Defensive tackle to come off the board? and where at do you see them coming off?
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
I would say the first DT drafted will be either Brandon Thompson from Clemson or Devon Still, between 12-15. Still has an arrow pointing up. He keeps moving up.
My team the Rams, are set at QB (hopefully) but our big problem is our O line. Who do you think would be the best Offensive lineman in College to pick up with what will most likely be a top 5 draft pick?
Mel Kiper (1:42 PM)
The LTs are Matt Kalil at USC; Jonathan Martin, Stanford; and Reiff, Iowa. Those are three quality LTs. The best pure OG is Courdy Glenn, Georgia. He's the No. 1 OG, followed closely by David DeCastro. Barrett Jones, Alabama is in there as well.
Luck is the best college QB most of us have ever seen, but is he going to deal with unrealistic expectations when he goes pro?
Mel Kiper (1:45 PM)
Everybody has to deal with that. The hype is out there every year. The scutiny is out there every year. There are daily shows breaking it down. you talked about this stuff just on Sundays for years and years in the pregame shows. Now you're discussing it on radio, TV, blogs, online. This is 24/7. Every QB, any of the top guys, have to deal with the constant evaluation. They're up, they're down. They're booms, they're busts. The saturation leads to every player being overanalyzed. Everybody's doing it on a daily basis. Not just Andrew Luck, every kid has it.
Mel Kiper (1:46 PM)
Luck, he threw a pick six late in that game that could have cost them that football game. But he went over there and made the point that it was on him. He was calm, cool, collected. He gets it. He's been around football his whole life. He gets it. He looks to me to be very unflappable.
Mel Kiper (1:46 PM)
Everybody knew he was going No. 1. The hype was there last year and he went back to college. He does what he wants to do. This team is in the national title hunt. He could win the Heisman. He could win the Unitas Award.
John (BR, LA)
Jarrett Lee.....drafted? Which round?
Mel Kiper (1:48 PM)
I'd say he's one of those guys that's done a good job at LSU this year, considering the criticisms that he's had in the past, but I would say more of an undrafted free agent, with a chance at a 7th round pick.
Dave (Wolcott, CT)
Mel, what are your draft thoughts on UConn DL Kendall Reyes? Thanks for all the great work you do.
Mel Kiper (1:49 PM)
Reyes has a lot of ability. A lot of talent. He's had a decent year overall. He's got a chance. In the right system, I think he could be a third round pick who pays some dividends. Right now, he's my sixth highest rated senior DT.
Shayne - NY [via mobile]
With most of the explosive offense returning next year do you believe that the Clemson Tigers will be legitimate BCS title contenders?
Mel Kiper (1:52 PM)
Yeah, I do. Clemson is built for the future, and this year. They have great recruits coming in this year. They can recruit. It's tough to play in Atlanta against Georgia Tech and that offense. They struggled and lost. They lost in 2009 and 2007. Atlanta has not been a good destination for them. They're off this week and have three winnable games to finish the year. They're going to take some hits on defense with guys leaving. But they have some young guys coming back. The OL will return just about intact. They'll be right in the thick of it again.
J Treehorn (Malibu)
What player(s) do you see being the biggest difference-maker in the LSU-Bama game?
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
Trent Richardson will be the best player on the field for Alabama on the offensive. On the defensive side, Courtney Upshaw. For LSU, on offense, Rueben Randle, WR, junior. On defense, Morris Claiborne, junior, CB/Tyrann Mathieu, sophomore, CB.
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
But Richardson, Claiborne and Mathieu will be the best players on the field overall.
Whats your top 3 RBs for the '12 draft?
Mel Kiper (1:57 PM)
No. 1, without a doubt Trent Richardson. He's No. 3 on the Big Board. He's a junior. He won't go No. 3, because RBs don't go that high, but he'll go in the top 10. No. 2, LeMichael James, Oregon. No. 3, Chris Polk, Washington. And you have to factor in Lamarr Miller. At No. 5, you have Dan "Boom" Herron, OSU and Doug Martin, Boise State. One of the guys that we've been talking about but unfortunately got hurt last week and that was Ray Graham, Pitt.
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
Look forward to a great week of football. We had a 63-60 final last night. There are some quality prospects on the field. There are games every night, tonight, three on Thursday and two more on Friday. Great week of NFL action. November is the best time of the year. You remember November. You want to be playing your best football this time of year.