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!
Jack (Rochester NY)
What are your thoughts on the Bills possibly drafting a QB. If they were going to draft one, when would be the appropriate time to do so and who would be a possible option?
Mel Kiper (1:03 PM)
It depends on your thoughts on Ryan Fitzpatrick. They could have drafted one last year and decided not to. They took Aarom Williams when they could have had Andy Dalton. But there were a number of teams that thought Dalton wasn't any better than what they had. The Redskins were another team. It depends on Fitzpatrick. But they have other needs. They need a pass rusher, either a DE or OLB. That's why I think Courtney Upshaw would be good for them. They also have to think about Stevie Johnson, who's a free agent. They need a complement for him anyway. They have other needs, but they have to figure out the QB scenario.
In ten years who do you think the best player from this draft class is?
Mel Kiper (1:05 PM)
Andrew Luck. You have to go with Luck. He's head and shoulders above everybody. There's a distance between him and the next player, who is Matt Kalil. There's a bigger distance between him and the next QB, RGIII. The expectations are there. You can say that they are too high, but that's the way it is in this world. The expectations will be unbelievable. If he doesn't play great as a rookie, he'll be called a bust. But next year, the bigger impact could come from another player. Justin Blackmon, Trent Richardson, Courtney Upshaw could all have bigger impacts as rookies, but 3-5 years down the road, Luck is who we'll be talking about.
MJF (Pittsburgh, PA)
Hey Mel, in your opinion what are the Pittsburgh Steelers most glaring needs, and who do you envision them selecting to fill those voids and get back to the Super Bowl?
Mel Kiper (1:06 PM)
I think what the Steelers have to do is go with NT. They could go as well with OL, OT is a key need area for them.
Andrew Lovett (Columbus, OH)
Who should the Green Bay Packers look at in the draft to improve their pass rush, mainly the D-Line?
Mel Kiper (1:08 PM)
They need a 3-4 OLB. Someone opposite Clay Matthews who can rush the passer. Whitney Mercilous. Bruce Irvin. Melvin Ingram. Nick Perry. Courtney Upshaw. There are a lot of options for Green Bay this year, in terms of players that fit the 3-4. Upshaw and Ingram, you'd probably have to move up for.
Who is performing the best at the Senior Bowl this week?
Mel Kiper (1:09 PM)
Doug Martin, RB, Boise State; Mike Adams, OT, OSU; Cam Johnson, DE, Virginia; Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt.
Hey Mel, i have a question about Cam Johnson. Whats his potential in the nfl and where do you see him going in the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
He's the kind of guy that you think about in the 3-4 round area. Pass rushers bring with them some value. He's a very good athlete. He'll test out very well at the combine. He could be a 3-4 OLB. He was a tremendous basketball player in high school. Tremendous athlete. He could be attractive in the third round, maybe even higher than that.
is there a DE that the bears can take a 19 that they can pair up with peppers?
Mel Kiper (1:11 PM)
I think WR supercedes everything. Cutler showed his value this year when he was hurt. Without him, they were a bad team. With Cutler being out, he showed his value to the team. Michael Floyd from Notre Dame, Alshon Jeffrey, they'll have a good look at WRs that fall to 19.
JC (Central NY)
I've been hearing that Mike Martin, DT Michigan, has played very well too. What round do you see him going?
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
He had a solid career. That's the thing about Mobile, you hope that good players play like good players. It's a coupld of days in practice and game where you throw some stars together. He's got great technique. Plays well. Quick. He's the kind of guy that you would expect to do well in this scenario. He's been well coached. It's helped him go head to head in practice with David Molk, a highly rated center. No surprise that he's able to hold his own and show promise. He's a third round guy.
How badly did Alshon Jefferys ejection against Nebraska hurt his draft projection?
Mel Kiper (1:14 PM)
No, what would hurt his draft stock is late in the year he averaged less than 10 yards per catch. That was more the QB situation at South Carolina, they didn't have quality QB play. Bottom line is he's between 20-32 where he comes off the board.
How bad do you want the Ravens to draft a kicker?
Mel Kiper (1:16 PM)
You don't draft a kicker. You sign a kicker. The best kicker in this draft is a kid out of Missouri Western State. Greg Zuerlein. Walsh from Georgia was expected to the best kicker, but he struggled on his accuracy. Philip Welch from Wisconsin is also in that mix. But none of these guys have super high grades. There will be veteran, proven kickers available. Cundiff's issue was on the road this year. If they're going a different direction, they're not going with a rookie.
I read your Redraft of 06 and saw that at 3 you had MJD, wouldn't the Titans have chosen Cutler over MJD?
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
It wasn't about ranking it that way. It was about ranking the best players. I wasn't going team to player. It wasn't need areas. It was based on how they're playing now. It was hard to judge, because you had to juggle who had a great start but are leveling off or guys who started slow but are coming into their own now. It was very subjective evaluations to do. That's how I saw it.
Who is the best tight end in the draft. New England was very successful with their TE's this year do you think other teams might catch on and make their TE's a bigger part of their offense of game plan.
Mel Kiper (1:20 PM)
I think other teams will. The TEs have been back in vogue now for a while. Gronkowski and Hernandez lead the way now. But Jermichael Finley with the Packers. Pitta with the Ravens. Davis with the 49ers. Jimmy Graham in New Orleans. Tony Gonzalez, Gates, the veteran guys. Every team now is employing these kids. Dwayne Allen from Clemson is an early second rounder. Orson Charles is another intriguing pass catching TE. A guy that's an unknown to fans is Ladarius Green from Louisiana-Lafayette. They're all very interesting guys.
Who will get drafted first out of the arkansas wide receivers.
Mel Kiper (1:21 PM)
I would say Jarius Wright. I'm leaning to him over Joe Adams and Greg Childs.
What do the Broncos do in the draft this year? And now that their D-Coord is gone does that change anything pertaining to the draft for them?
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
No. They have to get defense. They have to figure out the QB spot. They said Tebow will start as the starter, but I'm not convinced. The defense is awful. Miller is the key moving forward, but they need some help overall. That was a horrible defense. John Fox is a defensive guy. I would look at Fletcher Cox, a versatile DL out of Mississippi State.
Why are kickers valued so little? Somewhere almost every week a kicker is deciding games.
Mel Kiper (1:26 PM)
They value it, but every team, you're going to have some misses. That's why I would never let it come down to a kick. That's why I like what the Ravens did and go for the TD. If Lee Evans holds on to that ball, which he should have, the Ravens win that game. I like what they did. That's unlike what Stanford did and shutting down their offense and missing a 35-yard kick in the bowl game. The Ravens didn't just settle for the field goal. That's why I like teams attacking. A missed kick by the Vikings in the playoffs killed them years back. The Bills lost a Super Bowl on a missed kick. Teams value kickers, they're just hard to find.
the DCHAV (Wuxi, China)
Hey Mel. I've heard Alshon Jeffery may have some speed issues but I hear he has great hands, route running, and is a tough blocker. Any chance if he doesn't catch on as a WR he could be an all pro tight end? Seems to have the size to do it. Thanks.
Mel Kiper (1:27 PM)
He's 6-3, 6-4, 230. He's not going to run a 4.4 40. Speed isn't going to be his forte. They said Larry Fitzgerald couldn't run coming out of Pitt. We'll see how these juniors run.
Brady (Maui )
Is there anybody that will proboly go undrafted and be picked up by a team and make a big difference in the years to come?
Mel Kiper (1:29 PM)
The guys that I think are good players that I think will be drafted. The guys that are the best undrafted free agents are guys that I think should have been drafted. Guys from last year, Darren Evans; Brandon Saine; Henry Hynosky, he had a 3-4 round grade; Dane Sanzenbacher; Wesly Saunders.
Mel Kiper (1:31 PM)
Ian Williams; Kendric Burney; Ryan Donahue, he was the highest rated punter with a 5th round grade; Dan Bailey.
Fredo (Staten Island)
Who will have a better NFL career: Sanchez or Barkley?
Mel Kiper (1:32 PM)
I would have to say Barkley right now. I think he has a chance to have a great career. Sanchez has leveled off a little bit, though some of it is not his fault. The running game had some struggles, the OL had some struggles and the WRs were less than stellar. I would say right now Barkley will have a very similar grade to Sanchez coming out.
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
I said when Barkley was a senior in high school that he would be an eventual No. 1 pick coming out. He wouldn't be this year, but maybe next year when he comes out. I said the same thing about Matthew Stafford and it worked out. We'll see.
BamaPat (Mobile, Ala.)
Mel: The Pats have two first rounders in draft. First, do you think they will actually use both? I think they'll pick once somewhere between 28 and 32. Second, is there an pass rush help out there they can realistically get
Mel Kiper (1:34 PM)
They have to look at the picks and say that it's great to accumulate picks, but when a guy is staring at you you have to take him. A 3-4 DL they need. They need a 3-4 OLB. Their defense has to get better.
How good do you think Melvin Ingram can be in the NFL?
Mel Kiper (1:35 PM)
In this league, he can be great. He's a pass rusher and he's versatile. As a backup two years ago, he led them in sacks. This year he was a force in a lot of different ways. He can play as a DT, OLB. He'll be a welcome addition to any defense.
Mel Kiper (1:36 PM)
I have him going 11 to Seattle. He could go as early as 7 to Jacksonville.
If the eagles are again "all in" next year, is Kuechly a viable starting MLB as a rookie or would it be better to get someone in FA such as Hawthorne from Seattle or Lofton from the Falcons should he be willing to leave?
Mel Kiper (1:37 PM)
He's ready to play immediately. He's a guy that you put in there and forget about the MLB position. He had almost 450 career tackles. 7 INT. He was there just 3 years. He was averaging almost 20 tackles per game for a stretch. He won't have great measurables. But he's a guy you forget about the computer numbers and watch the film. His consistency is phenomenal. On the Big Board, he's No. 10.
PD (Los Angeles)
What staff could Dennis Allen bring with him to Oakland or keep from the current staff? Is his hiring a reach?
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
In terms of the Raiders, you think about defense, we'll see. He's an unknown quantity as a head coach. He'll be the youngest head coach in the NFL this year. He's 39. Very highly regarded. But you don't know. He's been with a number of teams. He's had a lot of different roles, secondary coach, DL coach, quality control. So he's worked a lot of different areas.
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
The main thing in Oakland will be getting Carson Palmer up to speed after being away from the game and keeping McFadden and Ford on the field.
Did you even have Victor Crus graded before the 2010 draft? Or was this just a crazy anomaly to have an undrafted WR become as good as he is?
Mel Kiper (1:43 PM)
Coming out, he was 6-0, 188, 4.55 speed. I gave him a 7th round grade. I had him way down the line. Based where I had him, he wasn't going to be drafted, because there were so many WR ahead of him. But the way he's played, he's a first round pick. Dez Bryant, Demarius Thomas. But that's why it's not an exact science. He played at UMass in the CAA, the best I-AA league in the country. I spend as much time studying that league as I do the SEC. There are a lot of good football players in that conference.
Does Foles have a higher grade than Henne did when he came out?
Mel Kiper (1:45 PM)
Yeah, he'll be right in line. I wasn't high on Henne coming out. Henne wasn't a consistent QB at Michigan. He had the big arm, the size, the want-to, but I didn't see him as a consistent passer. Foles is similar. Big, strong arm guy. He's a guy that has the size, the arm, he's intriguing, and he'll probably go in the same spot that Henne did.
BAMA D (T-Town)
Do you think that Hightower should have stayed for his senior yr, or does he go high enough in the draft to warrent an early out? Roll Tide!!
Mel Kiper (1:47 PM)
He needed to come out. He could have come out last year. But he was smart to go back, because he was coming off of the injury. He had a much better year this year than in 2010. He was a step slower in 2010. This year he looked like a better player, like prior to 2010. In 2010, he had 3.5 tackles for loss and no sacks and no INTs. This past year, 9.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 INT. He had 69 tackles in 2010, this year he had 81. He improved in every area. He's an ideal fit as a 3-4 as an ILB.
Mel..with a few teams looking to jump up to the #2 pick, what kind of compensation do you think it will take to pry the pick from Stl? Thanks
Mel Kiper (1:49 PM)
You're talking about multiple picks. You flip flop No. 1s, maybe a 2, maybe a pick for next year. It's not as much as it would be to get Andrew Luck. But it's going to be multiple picks.
Mel Kiper (1:49 PM)
If you make that move, your draft will be all about getting RGIII.
Sheldon (San Diego)
I have watch a ton of highlights on Burfict. A times he looks unstoppable. Can you explain how he will fall out of the top 10?
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
I have him as the 25th best player right now. I have him going to Baltimore. He has a lot of ability. He could be one of the best LBs to come out the last few years if he plays up to his talent. But he's not always playing up to his talent. He's hurt by his unsportsmanlike penalties. He's not always the dominant performer that you'd like to see.
If you were the next Bears GM and wanted to upgrade your offensive line, where would you start?
Mel Kiper (1:52 PM)
Gabe Carimi is coming back off the injury list. That will provide them with a boost. He has to stay healthy. They'll be better with him. Cutler will be back. Add a WR and you're ready to get back to the playoffs again.
If the Browns stay at #4 and RG3 is gone what do you realistically see them doing?
Mel Kiper (1:52 PM)
I would say they take Justin Blackmon if he's there. He'll probably be there, if RGIII goes No. 2 and Minnesota takes a CB.
do you think it will click this season with dez bryant and he become the dominate player everyone thought he could be?
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
I hope so. The light goes on and players get to that top rung of the ladder quicker than others. The talent is abundant. If he does the things in the offseason and works hard day in, day out. Jerry Rice and Larry Fitzgerald and how hard they work to get where they are. They show the work ethic all year and it shows up on Sundays.
What are your thoughts on Kendall Wright? Do you see him as a fit for the Browns at 22?
Mel Kiper (1:56 PM)
Yeah, he could be. He could be a fit for a lot of teams. Bears, Texans, Patriots, Browns. He's a speed merchant. Not often do you find senior WRs that are this good. He's added weight to his frame. He didn't lose any speed or quickness. He's compact. He flies. When they upset Oklahoma, he had over 200 yards. The only thing that's missing is he's not a proven commodity as a returner. I have him at No. 24 on the Big Board. In my first projection of last week, I had him going to Cleveland at No. 22.
I know you have SC in the title game next year, but won't their lack of depth bite them at some point?
Mel Kiper (1:59 PM)
They have a lot of good young players. I don't think their depth will hurt them. They might not have as much depth as Alabama or LSU this year, but they have a great starting 22. They started some sophomores this year. They have a nice stable of RBs. They have young WRs. They'll have to replace the LT. Matt Kalil is gone. If the LT gets solid, that offense will be prolific. Defensively, it's a shame Nick Perry left as their best pass rusher. They lost two draftable DTs to graduation. The DL will be restructured. They're fortunate that TJ McDonald returned at safety.
Mel Kiper (1:59 PM)
We'll be taking next week off, because I'll be working with Todd McShay in Bristol for some draft stuff.