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 (12:59 PM)
We've got Mel!
Mel Kiper (1:01 PM)
We've got a lot of controversy with the BCS and the rematch. We can talk about the system. A new Big Board this week, the first one since the season ended. Let's get to it.
If I recall correctly, you've got Trent Richardson rated #3 on your board...how high do you think he'll actually go in the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:04 PM)
I think he goes in the top 10. The teams, if they were to pick right now, you could be looking at an interesting team early in the first round of Cleveland. They could go RB or QB early. A lot of the teams picking early have RBs. Trent Richardson is a great example of why every year that some great running backs become great bargains. A lot of teams have one or even two RBs that they are comfortable with. Thsi isn't a running league any more. There are some major, good backs that didn't go high in the draft. I think he goes top 10, but not a lot of those teams need a RB.
Devin (Houston, TX)
Is Justin Blackmon better than Dez Bryant (pre-draft)?
Mel Kiper (1:06 PM)
He will have a higher grade. There were some concerns with Bryant going into the draft. I had him in the top 12. He went a little later, in 2010, going 24th overall. I have Blackmon at 4 right now. Teams that could be looking at him, let's see...St. Louis, Jacksonville, Cleveland. He could go in the top 5 or 6. There's no way he drops past the top 6-7. He'll go a lot higher than Bryant. He's probably a more complete player than Bryant.
With Archie Manning saying that it would not be a good idea to have both Luck and Peyton on the same team, In your opinion do you see them trading back or maybe taking someone else at #1? Maybe Richardson since their backs are not very good.
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
I think you're better off in this situation. I would let the organization determine that. He's meant a lot to the team, but they've also paid him a lot of money. The bottom line is at this stage of his career, coming off of an injury of this magnitude, they need to secure their future and it's not Peyton Manning. At some point over the next 2-3 years, he's not going to be there. You have to secure your future for the next 12-15 years. It's kind of like when Montana and Young were together in San Francisco. They traded Montana and went with Young. The big difference is, obviously, Young had some experience. They can trade Manning and go with Luck. They can draft Luck and keep Manning. Or they can trade the pick and build back up around Manning. That trade is worth a lot. It's always an option to trade Manning later. No one knows what will happen. I don't think the Colts even know right now.
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
How he comes back from the injury also impacts how other teams view him as trade bait.
Mel -- Tyrann Mathieu is obviously a great college player. I know he's just a (true) sophomore, but does his lack of size hurt his NFL prospects?
Mel Kiper (1:12 PM)
It does and it doesn't. He's a great player. He's 5-9, 185. He has tremendous versatility. There have been CBs that haven't had great size. You don't have to be the biggest CB to be a great corner. Some might say that he's not the biggest corner to go against these big WRs. But he's a great football player. He'll be a tough evaluation. Will it hurt him? Yeah, he might not go as high as you'd think he would. Look at Patrick Peterson, he went high and he was a good player. He'll go in the first round, but it's too hard to determine where right now.
Where do you see Robert Griffin III going in this year's draft if he declares for the NFL?
Mel Kiper (1:15 PM)
I'd say middle of the first, 10-17. I have him as the 11th highest player on the Big Board. He ended the season on a rush. He's overtaking Landry Jones, as did Matt Barkley. The QBs shook out basically the way they were at the beginning of the season.
Tommy (The Big Easy)
Mel, whose draft stock has fallen the most and whose has risen the furthest?
Mel Kiper (1:21 PM)
I'd say risen the most is probably Morris Claiborne, DB, LSU; Robert Griffin III. Others: Ryan Tannehill, QB, TAMU; Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor; Devon Still, DT, Penn State; Leonard Johnson, CB, Iowa State; Alex Okafor, DE, Texas; Gerald Hodges, OLB, Penn State; Sean Porter, OLB, TAMU; Jamie Collins, OLB, Southern Miss; James Brown, OG, Troy; Gerrell Robinson, WR, Arizona State, Dwight Bentley, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette. Guys dropping: Ryan Lindley, QB, San Diego State; Jeff Fuller, WR, TAMU; Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska; Travis Lewis, OLB, Oklahoma; Billy Winn, DT, Boise State; Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon; Coples, DE, UNC; Alshon Jeffery.
Mel -- if I set the over/under on number of future first-round draft picks (not just 2012, but any year) in the LSU-Alabama game just on defense (both teams) at 5.5, would you take the over or the under?
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
At LSU, 7 guys with first round potential at some point, six of them being defensive. Alabama has about 5. So I say there is a dozen total in this game, most of them on the defensive side. Some of them aren't draft eligible. Right now, in my top 25, there are three players in this game.
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
So, definitely over 5.5 to answer the question!
Jeff ((Oakland, CA))
Is Morris Claiborne a better prospect than Patrick Peterson?
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
As an overall prospect, Peterson had great value as a returnman. His strength, his best attribute was his return ability. He was a better returner than a pure corner. He's won games for Arizona this year. He has four returns for a TD. Can Claiborne be a better pure CB? Yes. A better overall player? No. Peterson can play CB early on and then move inside to safety, like Rod Woodson. Claiborne is a decent kick returner. He's not great. Peterson's great value came as a return man.
Do you see the Browns picking a QB with their 1st pick, or sticking with McCoy?
Mel Kiper (1:30 PM)
Based on what I've seen this year, in a league where you're not patient any more with QBs. You better have great physical skills coming in. Andy Dalton this year, what's helped him? Look at everything around him, AJ Green and Jermaine Gresham. What does Colt McCoy have? Greg Little? He didn't play at all last year at UNC. He's dropped some very catchable balls. Feast or famine. He doesn't have great talent around him. But in this league where you need instant gratification at QB, I'd say they are going to draft a QB. If he were a big, strong armed QB, they would stick with him. This league isn't about letting QBs finding their way. I think he's on the verge of getting kicked to the curb. I don't think he'll be their starting QB next year.
RGIII has to be the Heisman winner this year, right? I mean not only does he have the hype and skill set, but he also put up numbers to back it up.
Mel Kiper (1:32 PM)
The hype is there. But it's also his numbers. He's been spectacular. But I don't think anyone has to win it this year. Andrew Luck. Trent Richardson. Robert Griffin III. Matt Barkley. They all have great numbers. Montee Ball at Wisconsin. They're all very worthy candidates this year. This isn't a "he has to win it" year.
Case Keenum a mid round guy?
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
Yeah, I think he is. I think the hype's going to hurt him. The system, the short intermediate area. He plays against mediocre teams. He's a 6th year guy. I'd say he's a late Day 3 guy.
Why not use the BCS to get a top 8, then run a playoff from there?
Mel Kiper (1:36 PM)
I think what they should do is have a final four and have the final four, ranked 1-4 in two bowl games at the end of the year, on New Year's Day. They're selected like the Super Bowl. Whatever two games you want it to be. There should be a final four. It's great for college basketball. Two games are there and then the winner in the national championship game a week later. You'd play right around New Year's and then the title game. College football ends early, in early December. I would say a final four, within the bowl system, then the national championship game is what it is currently, it's not a bowl game.
Mel Kiper (1:36 PM)
It's not that hard and you're not hurting the bowls.
Mel Kiper (1:39 PM)
This year, you'd have LSU-Stanford and Oklahoma State-Alabama in the semifinal games. Then the winners play. This year, the No. 5 and 6 teams, Oregon and Arkansas have two losses, so they'd be out anyway. Think of those matchups: Andrew Luck against that LSU defense and Weeden against that Alabama defense. It could still be LSU and Alabama, but they'd have to earn their way.
what do you think Brandon Weeden goes in the draft? i know age is a factor but he is a great passer in a passing league does anybody jump on him early despite his age?
Mel Kiper (1:41 PM)
He will be 29 as a rookie in the NFL. He'll be older than 21 of the current starting QBs in the NFL as a rookie. He did have some key interceptions too. Against Iowa State he threw 3 picks. He's probably a 3-4 round guy.
Frank Watson (Michigan)
Will the enphisis still be heavily on defence in the first round?
Mel Kiper (1:43 PM)
Of my top 15, of the draft eligibles, 10 are offensive players. Six of the top 7 are offense. The only defensive player in the top 7 is Claiborne. 13 of the top 25 are offense. From 16-25, 7 of those 10 are defensive players.
Fred (Walla Walla)
Darron Thomas manages Oregon's offense well and occasionaly makes big-time throws, but otherwise he seems to have a "noodle arm". Do you think he will ever be an NFL prospect?
Mel Kiper (1:44 PM)
He's an underclassman that has a chance to develop there. He's like Dennis Dixon was. He has a chance to develop. But he's not a highly rated guy. Heckuva college QB, though.
Greg (Littleton, CO)
Who will be the best 4-3 OLB in the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:45 PM)
Zach Brown, UNC.
Markelle Martin or TJ McDonald, better NFL free safety?
Mel Kiper (1:47 PM)
I would say right now, McDonald is my highest rated junior safety. Martin is my second highest rated senior safety. Martin is just a tough, tough kid with some speed. That's almost a toss up. Martin's only about 195 pounds, but he's a 4.45 40 guy. He can cover the field. He's an intimidator. It's a tough call.
Which Duck is the best NFL prospect? James, Paulson or other? When do they get picked?
Mel Kiper (1:48 PM)
The first one that will be drafted this year will be LeMichael James. He's only a junior. Of the seniors, David Paulson, TE. Josh Kaddu. And Boyette, the junior safety. You would have thought it was going to be Cliff Harris at the beginning of the year. But the off the field issues caused him to be suspended and he was just dismissed from the team.
Burt (Canton, OH)
Did you expect this kind of year from Cam Newton? He's had his ups and downs but he certainly has looked like a pro in the making if you ask me.
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
He had great upside. He had the best upside of any QB I've ever graded. So far, he's worked hard. Stayed away from any distractions. He's reamined focused. Great leader. I think the upside has been shining through this year. And fortunately, any concerns have been covered over this year. You're seeing flashes of brilliance and some subpar efforts, but you expect that as a rookie.
mel! can monte ball be a first round pick next year? does he have the specs to wow at the combine?
Mel Kiper (1:52 PM)
He has a chance to be that. He's dropped some weight and got quicker. He put it together by slimming down. He went from about 230 to 210, 215. He's quicker but also maintained that power. He's also helped by Russell Wilson. And Ball helped Wilson. But that great OL helped them both. It's a great RB class from the junior class: Trent Richardson, LeMichael James, Chris Polk, David Wilson, Montee Ball. That doesn't include Ray Graham, who got hurt at Pitt.
Is this one of the weaker DT groups in a while?
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
There is no elite guy. Brandon Thompson is a very underrated standout. He's a heckuva player. The NFL is going to be all over him in April. He's strong, quick, consistent. Then you have Devon Still. Jerrel Worthy. There are some good looking DTs there. While there is not a top 5 pick from the DT group, you have some depth. If some of the juniors come out, it will help the group. It's not bad, just not that elite guy.
Lance (Destin, FL)
Does Florida State have any players projected in the 1st or 2nd rounds?
Mel Kiper (1:55 PM)
Possibility. The one that has a chance to go in the first three rounds is Zebrie Sanders, OT. That's pretty much it.
Matt P (Berkshire, NY)
Who are your top 5 receivers?
Mel Kiper (1:55 PM)
Top 5: Justin Blackmon, Alshon Jeffery, Michael Floyd, Nick Toon, then either Dwight Jones or Kendall Wright.
Mel Kiper (1:56 PM)
If you throw another junior into the mix, Rueben Randall. Those are the elite WRs right there.
Where will Russell Wilson go in the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:57 PM)
He's only about 5-10, 5-11. The height will really hurt him. He's an outstanding college QB. He did some great things at NC State. Did some great things at Wisconsin this year. He's like Seneca Wallace type. Maybe a 6-7 round pick. Serviceable backup.
Mel Kiper (1:57 PM)
We have Army-Navy wrapping up the regular season on Saturday. Then the bowl games starting up after that. We'll be previewing the bowl games next Wednesday!