Chat with Mel Kiper
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, 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 Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (1:00 PM)
We've got Mel!
Nico (Troy, Michigan)
What do you think about Matt Barkley entering the draft? Would he be a viable top 10 pick?
Mel Kiper (1:02 PM)
First of all, putting in the paper work doesn't mean you're definitely coming out. But if you had to project where he might go, I'd think the Redskins is a good spot. Miami or Washington in the top 10 would be good spots.
Tyler (Athens, GA)
Mel Can the Dawgs pull off the upset Saturday in The Georgia Dome?
Hi Mel, Have you ever seen a rookie class have as much impact as this one in the very first year? Couldn't you make the case for at least 5-10 pro bowlers in their rookie year?
Mel Kiper (1:03 PM)
I would say it's a long shot. They have to run the ball a lot better. They need to have some balance. You can't just have Aaron Murray back there throwing the football. If they're one dimensional, you'll see LSU getting a lot of sacks.
Mel Kiper (1:04 PM)
It's been spectacular. The variety of positions has been the impressive part. The fact that you've had even some late rounders and undrafted guys producing. And knowing you had the lockout. You would think this would have been a year where they would have had less of an impact.
Is Morris Claiborne in the same class as Patrick Peterson?
Mel Kiper (1:06 PM)
He's not the versatile athlete. He doesn't have the return skills. Claiborne is a good returner, but he's not as dynamic. Peterson is dynamic and we've seen that this year. His size, speed and return skills are unbelievable. But their grades will be on par. Peterson was one of the best players if not the best in the draft last year. Claiborne is No. 5 on my board right now.
Nate (JAX, FL)
Mel, where do you think Jerod Crick will go in the draft being that he got hurt this year? Also are you high on Lavonte David at LB in the NFL? Thanks!
Mel Kiper (1:07 PM)
The injury set him back. He was bothered by that before the season ended. You have to look at him last year. When you don't have that year and body of work at the end, it hurts you. He'll have some work to do to get back into the first round mix.
Mel, how did you have TJ Yates graded? Is there any chance he can lead the Texans to more than backing into the playoffs?
Mel Kiper (1:09 PM)
That's asking a lot for a late round pick and for a guy who's a third string QB this late in the season. I gave him a fifth round grade. I thought he'd go a little higher than he did. I thought he was one of the most improved players at his position. He completed 66.8 percent of his passes as a senior with 19 TDs. He had a great game against LSU, FSU. He had a good game in the Music City Bowl. The thing with him is he's not a wow you over kind of guy. But here's a guy that handles the offense very effectively. That's what he's going to have to do at Houston. He manged the game at UNC and he needs to manage the game with the Texans and hope the running game puts them in a good down and distance. He can't carry this team. But it's not like you're asking him to do something he's never done. He's a game manager.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Are you surprised how quickly Torrey Smith has developed? If he can improve his route running, who does he comp to? Roddy maybe?
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
Well, he's still developing. He's still a work in progress. He's dropped some passes. He's still struggling catching the football. He's a good, vertical stretch WR. He can strike fear in a DB because of his speed. But he has to improve his consistency, his route running. He's not anywhere close to hitting his ceiling to being the type of player he can be. They have to coach him up a little bit.
Do you like how its probably gonna shake out in college football..... lsu vs. alabama rematch?
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
I don't really care about that. I don't care about who wins championships and who doesn't. It's very flawed. You can't let the flaws impact how you rank teams. Alabama lost in OT in a game where they made mistakes. Once they lost, every other team had a chance to win their games and play for the title, and they all misfired and lost. They all failed to get the job done. Oklahoma lost another game. Oregon. Oklahoma State. The viable entities all lost. That's why it's come full circle. Even if LSU loses, they deserve to play for a title. This wouldn't have happened if teams had taken care of their business. Stanford lost to Oregon at home. It is what it is. Alabama was in the clubhouse and everyone else bogeyed or double bogeyed.
Mel,What kind of grade do you put on WR speedsters Jarius Wright and Travis Benjamin?
Mel Kiper (1:14 PM)
Wright is a speed merchant and he's had a real good year. I would think he'll probably be in that third round mix, depending on how he runs. Size is a negative, but he's fast as lightning. Benjamin is more of a middle round kind of guy.
Eric (Houston, TX)
It seems like even the late-round running backs are producing good numbers in the NFL. Should teams still use their first round pick on a running back? Especially since running backs also seem to have such a short career in the NFL.
Mel Kiper (1:17 PM)
You look at Trent Richardson, he's a special entity, he'll go in the first round. Mark Ingram is having a good impact with the Saints. You also see a DeMarco Murray and the job he's doing with the Cowboys, not a first round pick. Roy Helu. Hunter. The guys that didn't go in the first couple of rounds are having an impact. You can find running backs. This will be another year that you can find some more in the late rounds: Vick Ballard, MS State; Tauren Poole, Tennessee; Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati; Bobby Rainey, Western Kentucky; Marc Tyler, USC.
Vinny Curry better suited for the 4-3 or 3-4 in the NFL?
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
I would say with his skill set more of a 4-3 DE. He's more of a pass rushing 4-3 DE. He's not a guy that you want taking on a double team. He's only 6-4, 259.
Where do you see Brandon Weeden going in the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:20 PM)
This is a big game against OU coming up. He's struggled in a few games with INTs. It's a big game for Jones as well. Jones is trying to hold off Matt Barkley. Weeden turns 29 in October next year. I think the highest he'll go is in the third round. If not, then he'll be more of a fifth round pick.
Chris D (Chandler, AZ)
Who are the top safeties in the 2012 class? Where would you rank LSU's Eric Reid and Oklahoma's TonyJefferson if they were eligible this year?
Mel Kiper (1:21 PM)
Mark Barron is the No. 1 safety. No. 2 will be, Markelle Martin. Then Harrison Smith, Notre Dame. They're all seniors. The top junior is TJ McDonald, USC.
Dr. H. Doofenshmirtz (Tri-State Area)
Why do you think all these rookie wide receivers are excelling this year? This doesn't usually happen. Is it just an exceptional crop, or is there something else going on?
Mel Kiper (1:22 PM)
They're helped by the same thing the QBs are helped by. They're coming to the NFL with a lot of passes coming their way. These pass happy offenses have helped the WR. AJ Green. Julio Jones. Coming from balanced offenses in college. They get the ball thrown their way so often and it's helped their tranisition. Denarius Moore has done a good job with the Raiders.
What would you do if you were the GM in Indy? Keep Payton? Draft Luck? Both?
Mel Kiper (1:24 PM)
You take Luck. You assess Manning's physical situation which is an ongoing process. Then do you want to keep Manning for 2012 and sit Luck. Or do they want to draft Luck and trade Manning to someone who needs a QB. Miami. Washington. Either way, I'm taking Luck. Manning has been doing this for a long time. He's at the end of his career. You have a chance now to be what Manning's been and get another 12 years out of him.
Mitch (Montgomery, AL)
Is your grade for Trent Richardson higher or lower than your grade for Ingram when he entered the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
The one I give him will be higher than Ingrams. I gave Ingram a high grade, but there was a concern on his knee coming in. I had him as the 20th best player and he went 28. Richardson is the third highest rated player on my Big Board.
Which day 2 talent will be moved into the first round because of his combine performance?
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
A couple of guys that could be helped by it are Ryan Tannehill. Kendall Wright, Baylor. Ladarius Green, Louisiana-Layafette. Zebri Sanders, OT, FSU. Melvin Ingram, DE, USC. Kendall Reyes, UConn. Bruce Irvin, OLB, WVU. They're all seniors.
Do you see Bruce Irvin being taken as a pass-rush specialist or converted to a OLB? Where do you see him taken, if at all?
Mel Kiper (1:29 PM)
I think he'll be a pass rush specialist as a 3-4 OLB. He will be maximizing his natural pass rush ability.
Steve (Peterburg, VA)
Do you think Trent Richardson will have a real impact on the NFL considering how similar down hill runners are often used for short yardage and buffer in between air assaults?
Mel Kiper (1:31 PM)
What's underrated with him is I compare him to Earl Campbell as a runner, but he's also a good receiver. When he gets outside, he'll run you over or make you miss. He's excellent in the open field after making a catch. He'll punish the defender. He's got great character. This kid has the complete package of skills.
If Curtis McNeal leaves USC, will he be a first rounder?
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
I would say no. His size. I think he needs a full season of being the guy. He needs to put a full season of numbers together. There are a lot of junior RBs coming out. If some of those guys leave early, that would help him. Instead of going in as the 6th best RB, he could come out as the 2nd or 3rd best.
James (Medway, MA)
Even though the Titans are mediocre, I'm excited for the future with them getting 4 difference-making starters on defense alone in the 2011 draft (Klug, Casey, Ayers, McCarthy). Obviously the jury is still out on Locker but how would you grade their 2011 draft?
Mel Kiper (1:35 PM)
Locker is still to be determined. He has potential. They're handling him properly. Ayers has to step up and be more consistent. Klug has been an excellent fifth round pick. Tommie Campbell has shown he can be a factor in this league. They've gotten a lot out of a late round pick there. He's been a good pickup for them.
How quickly can Urban Meyer turn Ohio State into a championship calibre team
Mel Kiper (1:37 PM)
I love that move. My sister in law went to OSU and she's thrilled. He's a great football coach. He did great at Bowling Green. He went to Utah and went undefeated. He went to Florida and won two national championships. He'll recruit well. He'll surround himself with great assistants. He has a great recruiting base. He's inheriting some great players. This team has a chance. I would say within three years, four years, they'll win big with Urban Meyer. I would say by 2014 they could be winning big.
Johnny (Rapid City)
Teams are have their starting QB go down and having such a huge step down in talent to get to the back-up, KC, Chicago, Indy, Houston to name a few. The past mindset has been not to spend a lot of money for a backup, but clearly that is haunting them. In this draft do you see QB stock rising at all, in a rethinking of the strategy. And if so, who would be the next 5 QBs in the draft after Luck?
Mel Kiper (1:43 PM)
I've always been amazed that teams haven't done a better job of securing a back up QB. Even when penalties get called, the QB is still getting hit. Is a 15 yard penalty protecting a QB against the hits? The QB still gets the punishment. Vick. Cassel. Cutler. Campbell. Henne. Schaub. Leinart. Manning. Jackson, Hasselback, Roethlisberger, Stafford have all been playing hurt. You're talking about a lot of teams that have been impacted tremendously. Oakland, they went out and got Carson Palmer when they needed a backup. Miami, I think Matt Moore is better than Chad Henne, and I think they could easily be 7-4 instead of 3-8. That's an interesting case. Houston did a good job of getting Matt Leinart as a backup but unfortunately he got hurt. You need a competent backup and a lot of these teams don't have that.
Speaking of coaches turning things around, can Mike Leach do for Washington St what he did for Texas Tech?
Mel Kiper (1:45 PM)
First of all, other coaches have done very well at Washington State. Mike Price. Dennis Erickson. I thought Paul Wulff was turning things around a little bit, but a chance to get Mike Leach, you take it. Where is Texas Tech this year? They're not going to a bowl game. Leach had them in a bowl every year. He's got a great offensive mind and system. That's a heckuva hire. I thought it would be either Washington State or UCLA. Teams have won out there in Pullman. They've had a lot of success in college football. They've produced a lot of good players over the years.
The Falcons don't have a first round pick, will that hurt in their development as an up and coming team?
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
The draft is more than the first round. Klug and Campbell at Tennessee were later round picks. Denarius Moore was drafted in the fifth round last year. Philadelphia with Brian Rolle in the sixth round. Roy Helu was a later round pick to Washington. Kendall Hunter, fourth round to the 49ers. KJ Wright, fourth round to Seattle. They don't need to have a first round pick to have a good draft. One of the best drafts in the history of the league was the 49ers draft in 1986. They traded out of the first round twice. They got Rathman, McKyer, John Taylor, Charles Haley, Fagan, Griffin. Out of that draft, they ended up with 8 starters in the first six rounds. Larry Roberts and Steve Wallace too.
Mel Kiper (1:52 PM)
We'll be back next week at our normal time of Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET!