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!
Mel Kiper (1:02 PM)
I wish everyone a Happy New Year! We're winding down the bowl season and the playoffs are set to start in the NFL. A lot of juniors starting to declare for the draft.
Mel, Okay I'm sold on Blackman, your right he is everything you said he would be. Problem is do the rams draft him at number two or do they trade that pick for more choices and hope he is still there at maybe # 6 or #8. Thanks
Mel Kiper (1:04 PM)
That's where the Rams have to look at, the needs of the team. They revolve around more than just WR. They could use a LT and move Saffold to RT. The guy there would be Matt Kalil. With Blackmon, you could consider trading down a couple of spots. They could also use a CB, like Claiborne. At 2, do they look at Blackmon there? RGIII is going to be a hot guy. There are a number of teams that could look for a QB. Trading down is a possibility.
Why is Luck better then RG3?
Mel Kiper (1:05 PM)
He's bigger. He has an excellent arm. He's accurate. Precise. He makes good decisions. He's just better. What makes a QB great is how he performs. He has everything a QB needs to have. He has the mind for the game, the passion. He has everything you want attribute wise. He's a more athletic Peyton Manning. Manning can't beat a defense with his legs. Luck can extend plays. He can run for first downs. He's not RGIII, but he's more of a pocket passer. He's the best QB I've graded since John Elway in 1983. He has a significantly higher grade than RGIII. There is no one close to him in the draft.
I was very impressed with the bowl game Ryan Tannehill played. Is he a 1st round talent? If so, what will Seattle have to do to get him?
Mel Kiper (1:06 PM)
He needed to play well, because he had a poor game against Texas. He did it against a defense that had some problems this year. Against a good Texas defense, he struggled. Against Northwestern, he played well. I see him a second rounder. I don't see a high upside, but he can be a solid QB in the NFL.
Oklahoma State defeated Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Landry Jones, Ryan Tannehill and Nick Foles this season. Are those your top 5 QB's going into the draft, now that Barkley has said he's staying in school? Has that ever happened before, one team playing, and beating, that many top QB's?
Mel Kiper (1:09 PM)
They beat QBs that aren't necessarily on very good teams. A-M had a bad defense. Oklahoma State, some people said they stated their claim to be the No. 1 team in the nation by beating Stanford. But Stanford should have won that game. I don't know why they took the ball out of Luck's hand late in the game and put it with the kicker. They didn't cover the point spread. They lost as a 4 TD favorite earlier in the season to Iowa State. If Alabama beats LSU, they would have beaten the No. 1 team in the country and their only loss would be to the No. 1 team in the country. So this notion that OSU should jump Alabama makes no sense to me.
Eric Roe (Boston, MA)
Hey Mel! Off the top of my head, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Jacksonville all need a WR. A lot of people feel Justin Blackmon will be the first WR taken in April, but where do you see Michael Floyd going? Any chance that 2 WRs are taken early in this draft or could one of them fall due to some concern...though I don't recall hearing anyone having the same reservations that people had with Dez Bryant...
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
I have Alshon Jeffrey ahead of Floyd. Jeffrey and Floyd are both mid-first round area. The top 10 is too high.
Michael (Portsmouth VA)
Do you see Burfiut slipping into the 2nd round
Mel Kiper (1:12 PM)
No. I think he's a first. The NFL M.O. now, the aggressive players like Burfict, who get penalties for personal fouls, how many are you going to get in the NFL? You can get away with a lot more in college. I don't know how the 1985 Bears would survive in this NFL. Or the Steel Curtain. The Purple People Eaters. Those guys would get fined and suspended all of the time. Burfict is going to have to learn how to tackle and finish plays and not go over the top with his aggressiveness. He has to learn to play a smarter game.
Mel Kiper (1:12 PM)
He's a mid to last first rounder.
Jerome (San Diego)
Who would of guessed Stanford could potentially have 3 top 10 picks in the draft, considering their tough academics requirements for admission. Do you think coach Shaw was too conservative on the last drive in regulation and in OT?
Mel Kiper (1:15 PM)
"Little conservative"? They should have finished that drive with a TD. Andrew Luck should have won or lost that game. It was his last game and you're going to put it in the hands of a kicker? Unless you're the NFL, where you have the 32 best kickers in the world. College doesn't have that. He's the best player since 1983 and you're not going to let Luck finish the drive. Let him win it or lose it. That was ridiculous to do what they did. That OSU defense had no answer for Stanford's offense.
Mel Kiper (1:16 PM)
And they've had high picks before. They have produced some players. John Elway came out of Stanford. Gerhart now. Doug Baldwin. Stanford has a lot of prospects. OL, TE, RB, DB, LB all have prospects at those positions. Jim Harbaugh did a great job recruiting.
Melvin (North Carolina)
Mel: My beloved Bears have poor draft position at #19 but key needs. With no elite LT's available or game breaking WR options, how would u use the pick?
Mel Kiper (1:17 PM)
First of all, until we see who is coming out, it's very difficult to assess. The juniors will have an impact on that. Some of these juniors have a chance to be pretty good. Where they're picking it will be a wait and see until the juniors declare.
mel who wins Wv or Clemson
Mel Kiper (1:19 PM)
It's one of the great matchups of the bowls, because you have two teams that can score points. Sammy Watkins, you want to see him. Geno Smith for WVU. Bruce Irvin, pass rushing OLB for the NFL. Brandon Thompson and Andre Branch, the two DL for Clemson. Dwayne Allen, pass catching TE. There are a lot of prospects in this game who are very very good players. I think it's too close to call.
What was your grade on Arian Foster and what were his strengths and weaknesses?
Mel Kiper (1:21 PM)
He slipped back. In that final year, he slipped back. It didn't go as well as the previous year. His average per carry dropped. Two years before he came into the NFL, he flashed superior ability. He was rated as a draftable player. He fell through the cracks. Running backs always do. Most teams don't prioritize RBs, I've been saying that for 30 years. Kendall Hunter, DeMarco Murray, Dion Lewis, Evan Royster, Roy Helu, were all guys that dropped a little further and were good value picks.
Would you consider Joe Flacco an upper-tier quarterback? He may be having a down year stat wise but he has won alot of games....
Mel Kiper (1:22 PM)
Yes. I think he's in the top 10-12. He's not elite, but he's up there.
What are the chances that the Rams trade out of the #2 slot (to a team wanting RG3) and what are they likely to fetch in that trade?
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
Certainly they wouldn't get as much as the Colts would get for the No. 1. St. Louis would be better with the first pick. But what helps them is RGIII is hot right now. Second, Matt Barkley went back to school. Those teams looking for a QB can't just think they can get another QB. The possibility exists that St. Louis could deal out of No. 2.
Gus (Washington DC)
Which quarterback coming out of college is going to be this years Andy Dalton?
Mel Kiper (1:24 PM)
You could look at Nick Foles from Arizona, Tannehill. Those guys could be late first, early second. Those would be the two.
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
Brandon Weeden will be an interesting guy. How do teams look at him? He has talent throwing the football. He will be a 29-year-old rookie.
Mel, the Patriots defensive problems have been evident for a couple years now but for some reason they have not done much to address it through the draft. Is this the year they finally do and who do you see as candidates for their 2 picks at the end of the first round?
Mel Kiper (1:27 PM)
They get the pick from New Orleans. They'll have to late first rounders. The defense is the big problem. If anything prevents them from getting to the Super Bowl, it will be the defense. They don't have a running game or star WR, but it's an excellent offense. The defense is horrible. Can a bad defense get to the Super Bowl? They do have homefield advantage. They've tried to restructure the secondary. They've addressed the OL, the RB in the draft. They don't get the pass rush.
After swinging and missing on Jason Smith from Baylor would it be hard to sell the Rams fanbase on taking another tackle so high with Matt Khalil at #2? Admittedly I'm looking for excuses to get Khalil in purple.
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
I don't think the new GM will care too much about that. He's coming in with different ideas. When you clean house, they don't care about previous moves. Everything goes away and it's a clean slate for everybody. There are no ties to anybody. They'll make their own moves. Anything from previous years is irrelevant.
Is their a corner in this nfl class that is comparable to Pat Peterson of last year?
Mel Kiper (1:30 PM)
Not overall. In terms of the dynamic ability of Peterson. He's not only a talented coverman, but a dynamic return man. I got into arguments with people with them saying that he can't return punts in the NFL and risk injury, but that's his strength! He won games for Arizona based on his returns. As a CB, he improved as the season went along. He reminds me of Rod Woodson, who moved inside to safety later in his career.
Mel Kiper (1:30 PM)
No one is like him. Claiborne is a good CB. He's not the overall talent that Peterson is, but he'll go in the top 5-7.
What's your assessment of Colt McCoy after his 2nd season? Do the Browns draft RGIII or go for Blackmon and try to build around Colt? Peter King leans towards the latter.
Mel Kiper (1:32 PM)
The league is about what you're doing now. This league doesn't develop QBs. Green Bay is the only team that's developed a QB. They did that with Rodgers and see what happened. What you have to do with McCoy is do that. He doesn't have the talent around him to do that. His top receiver was Greg Little, who didn't even play football last year. He was in the top 3 for NFL WRs for drops. I think Colt McCoy won't be the starter for next year. He'll be reduced to No. 3 behind Seneca Wallce. The QB that starts next year for Cleveland is not on the roster right now.
Matt (Houston, TX)
Mel, hype wise I can see RGIII going as high as the #2 pick. Where does your evaluation say he should go? Is he a top 10 pick? Top 20?
Mel Kiper (1:34 PM)
I think he's the 6th best player in the draft. He's right on the fringe of the top 5. I think he could go as high as 2 if a team moves up. I think he'll go very high. He's a top pick. The No. 4 pick is the Browns. Washington and Miami are also up there as well.
Sebastian (Cincinnati, OH )
What did you think of VT's David Wilson last night? Before the game I did not know anything about the guy, but I thought he ran hard and showed some elusiveness. If he declares for the draft, where do you see him going? 2nd-3rd round? Does he look like a 1-2 or 3 down back?
Mel Kiper (1:36 PM)
There are a lot of junior RBs that are very good. Where he would go? I think he's in the second round mix, late first. You saw Ryan Williams last year go early from VT last year. He went 38th overall. Tremendous ability to break tackles. Runs with authority. Good spin move. Triple jumper at VT. Decent receiver. Good kick returner. He had runs of 30-plus yards in 6 of their last 7 games. If he has a great workout, which I think he will, and he comes out, he coudl be in the first round discussion.
Any thoughts on the possibility of Matt Flynn playing for the NY Jets in 2012? If not, what are some good fits for his skill set?
Mel Kiper (1:39 PM)
Matt Flynn made himself a lot of money in that game the way he played against the Lions. He becomes that x-factor at QB. Everyone won't be a Cam Newton as a rookie. So teams might want to go out and get Matt Flynn. He was on a top team at LSU. He won a Super Bowl with Green Bay. To me, if you're Cleveland, Washington or Miami, two of those teams will be left out of the QB mix. One gets RGIII and that's it. So if you want a starting QB and has shown that he can play in this league, then I can see Matt Flynn as that guy. Talk about creating a buzz.
What do you see the Bengals doing with there draft picks to they trade some away or do the build up with there picks?
Mel Kiper (1:41 PM)
Where the Bengals will be picking, you're talking about the 20s. It depends on where they finish the year. We'll see how this draft shapes up. They have the two best rookies in the league. They have an outstanding OT, TE. They have some guys up front that can get after guys on defense. We'll have to wait and see. This is a team with some good young talent. They beat the below-.500 teams. They benefitted from the schedule. That's just the way it was for them this year.
John (Austin, TX)
Mel, If Jared Crick is healthy in time for the combine and puts up good numbers there, where do you see him going? 2nd round?
Mel Kiper (1:43 PM)
He could go in the second round. He was a first round caliber player. He had the torn pec muscle. Really his senior year had the injuries. But as a junior and sophomore next to Suh, he played great. He sustained a high intensity level. Prior to his season-ending injury, he was the 23rd on the Big Board. The highest he was this year was 12.
How many Notre Dame players get drafted this year?
Mel Kiper (1:45 PM)
I think they have 5 potential draftees. Michael Floyd, mid to late first round area; Harrison Smith, safety in the third round area are the two top guys.
Eric (Boston, MA)
Hey Mel! What are your thoughts on Kirk Cousins and other senior Qbs who aren't nearly as regarded as Luck or RGIII?
Mel Kiper (1:47 PM)
I think Cousins is a fifth round area guy. He's a smart kid. Played some good football at Michigan State. If you're looking for some late round QBs: BJ Coleman, Chattanooga; Case Keenum, Houston; GJ Kinney, Tulsa; Chandler Harnish, NIU; Ryan Lindley, San Diego State; Austin Davis, Southern Miss. Then there are some wild cards, Russell Wilson and Kellen Moore. They're both around 5-11. Size will push them into the later rounds.
Ben (Newport Beach, CA)
How many Stanford players get drafted this year?
Mel Kiper (1:48 PM)
I would say 5 or 6 get drafted.
Mel Kiper (1:49 PM)
3 first rounders. Luck and the two OLs go early, all in the top 20.
Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers? Who's your MVP? (And shouldn't Peyton Manning get an MVP vote for proving how valuable he really is?)
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
You can take either one of them. Rodgers won a Super Bowl and has a Super Bowl caliber team, but then Matt Flynn came in and played that well in a game where Detroit Lions were trying to win. That might have hurt Rodgers. Drew Brees may have gotten the MVP nod with that performance. That's an argument with some holes in it but if you're looking for a place to make some separation, that might be it.
Mel Kiper (1:51 PM)
The defensive MVP is Terrell Suggs in Baltimore.
Mel Kiper (1:51 PM)
Offensive ROY is Cam Newton, followed by Dalton or Green. Defensive ROY is Aldon Smith.
Rex (San Diego)
Who do you think are the top rush linebackers that may be picked up in the second round?
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
The seniors are: Bruce Irvin, West Virginia; Shea McClellin, Boise State; Emmanuel Acho, Texas; Josh Kaddu, Oregon; Sammy Brown, Houston; Kyle Wilber, Wake Forest.
How does this draft class compare to last years? I know there is more talent at QB this year but what about the draft class as a whole?
Mel Kiper (1:55 PM)
Pretty well. Until the juniors declare, we can look at the seniors and some juniors who we think will come out. But there have been some surprises with Barkley. Teo. Jones at Georgia. All staying. Until we know all of the juniors, it's all still TBD.
Watching the Ticketcity Bowl last week Keenum was projected at 11th ranked QB, but watching the game the poise and accuracy was superb. what are your thoughts on him?
Mel Kiper (1:57 PM)
There are a lot of college QBs that show poise and accuracy when they have time to throw. Some of those Houstons receivers were wide open. He's a 6th year guy. He's in a perfect offense. He's in a pitch and catch offense. But he's only 6-0. I think he's a late round pick. Does he have a chance? Sure he does. He has a lot of experience. Won a ton of games. Had a tremendous college career. If he were taller and a littler stronger arm, he would be a higher pick.
Is it fair that LSU has to beat Alabama twice to be champions, yet Alabama only has to beat LSU once?
Mel Kiper (1:59 PM)
You go back to the early 90s when Notre Dame beat Florida State and lost a game to Boston College and FSU won the title. They both had one loss and Notre Dame beat FSU, yet FSU won the title. It's all about the final game. In the NFL, if you beat someone in the regular season but lose to them in the playoffs, you're out. But Alabama should have won that first game. LSU got very luck to come out of that game as the winner. Alabama won that game everywhere but up on the scoreboard.
Mel Kiper (2:00 PM)
It's not unfair. It's just the way it falls. If they're not playing Alabama, they're playing OSU or Stanford. You're playing a good team no matter what.
Mel Kiper (2:00 PM)
We'll be back next Wednesday. The college football season will be over and we'll be headed into the next round of the NFL playoffs. We'll know more about who is coming out in the draft.