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!
Johnny (Columbia SC)
Mel... with Lattimore declaring for the draft... how does your Big Board rank the top 3 RB's now and in what rounds are they likely to go?
Mel Kiper (1:03 PM)
There is no top RB. That's the thing. Lattimore is still the most talented RB, but he's coming off two major injuries at South Carolina. The medical will play a part in how he's evaluated. After that, there is a group of 8 RBs that's bunched together. There are no RBs in the top 25 right now. Kenjon Barner, Monte Ball, Ray Graham, Giovani Bernard, Eddie Lacy, Le'Von Bell, Dri Archer are all in the mix. If Lattimore had been healthy this year, he would have probably been between 15-25 on the Big Board. Now, we don't know when he'll be reaady to play next year.
Woody (Jefferson City)
Mel, with the Chiefs locking into one of the top two spots in the draft, where do you see them getting the best value? They need an ILB, but is that too high for T'eo?
Mel Kiper (1:05 PM)
You have to take somebody. This is a draft where we don't have a top RB, QB, CB or S. You don't have any of those kinds of players at those positions. KC's biggest need is QB. They have a need at WR, but there is no top WR. They could take Te'o or Joeckel. And you'd look LT over ILB, if they're both equal.
Whats going on with the Texans defense 3 out of the last four games, the jaguars, lions, patriots have put up 30 plus points against them?
Mel Kiper (1:08 PM)
The big problem has been no Brian Cushing. This team has significant injuries to key players. Cushing was a key guy. He is a complete LB. They've had a problem on the back end in terms of coverage. They miss Cushing. Offensively, Andre Johnson is not the same as 3-4 years ago. They're a TE dominated offense. Arian Foster and Owen Daniels dominate the offense. Matt Schaub need to show that he can win these games. They've played a relatively easy schedule. And they needed OT to beat Jacksonville and Detroit. They beat Baltimore, but they're a flawed team. They finish up against three teams where they'll be favored. They have two games against Indy coming up. They'll have to play a lot better.
What players are the ideal fit as a 3-4 end in the draft and are there any potential first rounders in that group?
Mel Kiper (1:09 PM)
The guys who would fit that bill is Detone Jones. He's the one that jumps out. He's a second round draft choice.
carlos (el paso)
Do you think the Heisman voter should be more open to defensive players?
Mel Kiper (1:11 PM)
I do. I have thought that for years. It's the same thing I've thought about the college football playoff system and the OT rules. If Manti Te'o, this year can't win it when there was no clear cut winner and it was a close race, then a defensive player is never going to win it. A non-TD scoring defensive player, not like Charles Woodson, will never win it. Manziel won it based on the one game: the win against Alabama. Te'o just didn't get enough support. I was amazed that he wasn't as close to Manziel in the voting as he was.
Mel Kiper (1:11 PM)
A true defensive player who doesn't score TDs has no chance.
What is your impression of Kirk Cousins? Viable as an NFL starter? Any chance Washington is open to trades for him or is his cost (3rd round pick, rookie salary) such that the Skins are happy to have him as a backup to RG3
Mel Kiper (1:12 PM)
That's a possibility. I thought that when he came out last year, that he could become a serviceable starting QB. He doesn't have elite physical skills. He's not a guy that played very well at Michigan State during his career. He has a good, not great arm. He has plenty of experience on the big stage. I thought if he had the chance to win a starting job, he'd be a serviceable starter. The throws he made were to wide open WRs. AT the end of the day, he's a backup to RG III and they should be satisfied in keeping him in that role.
RG iii plays the game with reckless abandon when it comes to his body. How long can he last playing this way?
Mel Kiper (1:13 PM)
RG III has to change his style. He can't take the hits that he does. This injury could be significant. It's much more significant that earlier in the year. He has to change his ways in the NFL and change his M.O. or else Cousins will be starting.
Do you think nick saban should return to the NFL?
Mel Kiper (1:15 PM)
It will have to be with the right organization. You're talking about his status at Alabama. Nobody will ever be in the Bear Bryant status, but he has a chance to win a championship in three of four years. He's been an amazing college coach. He had the unsuccessful stint in Miami, mainly because they didn't get Drew Brees and ended up with Daunte Culpepper instead. I can't speak for Nick Saban, but I would have to believe that being in the NFL will always be tempting. But it would have to be with the right owner.
Sounds like you think Logan Thomas (VT) will be the first QB drafted...6'6", 260lb....tremendous raw talent, needs better coaching...monster arm with some accuracy issues...very coachable, great leader
Mel Kiper (1:17 PM)
I don't know. I don't know if he's coming out. He did not have a good year. If he does come out, that's still not a guarantee. He'll be one of the most gifted. Mike Glennon might be the first one taken. He's big, has a strong arm. He had a ton of dropped balls. I wouldn't be surprised if he's a top 10-15 pick in the NFL. That would be especially true if he plays well in their bowl game: NC State-Vanderbilt on New Year's Day.
Mel Kiper (1:18 PM)
Thomas could go in the first round just based on potential and physical ability, late first round, but we will have to see.
Will the Steelers make it to playoffs?
Mel Kiper (1:20 PM)
I would like to see them in the playoffs, but it's no guarantee. That loss to San Diego is monumental right now. They're 7-6 and don't have an easy game left. Cleveland has really come on late. They played Baltimore tough. Pittsburgh is the kind of team that would be dangerous if they make the playoffs. What hurt them is a ton of injuries this year. When they're healthy, they can play with anybody. But will they ever be at full strength?
Nevin (St Paul)
At this point, is Christian Ponder's ceiling Chad Pennington with a slightly stronger arm?
Mel Kiper (1:21 PM)
I said all along that he was very similar to Chad Pennington. Very cerebral. Accurate. Doesn't have the big arm. This is about where Pennington was. He was never a great starting QB in the NFL, good by not great. You need a great supporting cast around Ponder, right now they don't. Even with Harvin out there, they need a WR around Harvin. DL, CB would all use some help. Rudolph is a great weapon at TE.
Mel Kiper (1:23 PM)
They're in a division with 3 good QBs and they only have a decent to good one. You could say the same thing about Jake Locker in Tennessee and Blaine Gabbert in Jacksonville. Can you compare your QB to the others in the division? If not, you're going to have a problem.
Watching the Patriots play every week it's obvious their weakness is pass defense, so why does every team they play seem to just want to grind it out with the run?
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
You can't be one dimensional against New England. You can't let them just rush you. They also have a new look secondary now. This is a pass happy league. When you look at the ability of this offense, even without Julian Edelman...remember, they beat Houston without Gronkowski. They are the team that has to be the odds on favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl now. Homefield advantage in the playoffs doesn't mean much any more. They're the best team in the NFL right now. It's wide open in the NFC, but overall, the Pats are the best team in the NFL.
Not a sexy position, but who are the top Centers in the draft?
Mel Kiper (1:26 PM)
Khaled Holmes, USC; Barrett Jones, Alabama, they're seniors. The top junior is Travis Frederick, Wisconsin.
ted (cape cod)
I know he's know on a lot of scouts radars for the NFL but where do you project WR Jordan Matthews of Vanderbilt?
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
Good football player. I like him. He has ideal size, but what will his 40 time be? He's not a blazer. Great route runner. Natural passing skills. Very good in the red zone. I would say right now, if you had to say where he would project, if he came out, as he's only a junior, he'll be in the second round discussion.
If the Bears have another late season collapse and miss the playoffs (5 out of 6 years) do you think Emery fires Lovie Smith or do they force him to make Bates the OC and let Lovie go into next year as a "lame duck?"
Mel Kiper (1:29 PM)
I can't speak to that, that's a Mort and Schefter question. But I will say this, when you look at where Chicago is right now, they get Green Bay at home and at Arizona and at Detroit. They are games they have to win. Their OL is the problem. Cutler gets hit way too much. They have to get a LT, that's the bottom line. Lewan from Michigan, Fisher, Central Michigan are out there. Their OL is just not good enough right now.
Will Manti Tao be another Aaron Curry?
Mel Kiper (1:31 PM)
Curry was an outside guy that ended up not having a very good career. I thought he was a very good player, but I was wrong. I didn't evaluate him accurately. The problem with him was he wasn't a very good pass rusher. That was never his forte at Wake Forest. He wasn't an explosive player. If you're not an impactful player at OLB, that's not good. Te'o is an impactful player. I think he'll be a very good NFL player. I think everyone will be anxious to see what his 40 time is. I would be a surprise if he wasn't very good in the NFL.
Has Harrison Smith exceeded your expectations?
Mel Kiper (1:34 PM)
No. He has not. He was the 29th player taken by Minnesota. He was No. 29 on my Big Board. He was considered to be a first round pick. I had him projected to go to Minnesota with the 35th pick and they traded up with Baltimore to get him at 29. I was actually accurate with his projection. He was as good a safety as any in the nation outside of Mark Baron at Alabama in his last two years in college. You could argue that he is one of the top five defensive rookies in the NFL right now. Great pick for Rick Spielman.
How do you think the Detroit lions are doing right now? what do you think they should improve? thanks
Mel Kiper (1:35 PM)
They have to get better on defense. They had some unfortunate injuries. They need to get better on the secondary. They have to hope they don't sustain significant injuries on offense like they did this year.
Woody (Jefferson City)
Mel, Barkley has fallen down the draft lists. Is this because he did not progress as well as you thought he would or has he regressed from last year? The point is, has he ever shown the things that you were looking for?
Mel Kiper (1:37 PM)
Good question. I think you could say it both ways. Not having Matt Kalil impacted him. He throws a nice ball, but doesn't have a great arm. He puts pressure on the OL because he doesn't have great mobility. He's only 6-2. He made some bad decisions. Had some inaccurate throws. There will be mixed opinion on him. He went from a top 5-10 pick last year and now he'll probably go somewhere between 20-40. Senior Bowl Week will be very important for him. I would bet right now, if I were a gambler that he is not the first QB taken. Maybe not even the second one.
Which non-BCS game are you looking most forward to watching?
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
First of all, I'm not even sure which ones are BCS and which ones aren't. I don't really care. The bowl games I look forward to watching are the Holiday Bowl: Baylor-UCLA. Fun matchup. Next, Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium: West Virginia-Syracuse. The old Big East matchup there. Music City Bowl: NC State-Vanderbilt. Jordan Matthews from Vandy and Glennon at NC State. Chik-Fil-A Bowl on New Year's Eve: LSU-Clemson. Always look forward to the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day: Wisconsin-Stanford. Then the Fiesta Bowl: Kansas State-Oregon. Will Oregon's speed overwhelm KSU? Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma-Texas A-M. And then the national championship game: Alabama-Notre Dame.
Mel Kiper (1:40 PM)
Those are the best ones I see.
Do you think Kenjon Barner will be cast in the Dexter McCluster mold as an NFL player?
Mel Kiper (1:42 PM)
He can be a guy that can be a situational dynamo. He has great speed. He can be a game breaking situational RB. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. He can help in the return game. LeMichael James has been a non-factor most of this season, but he showed on Sunday, he can help the offense. Barner is a more complete back.
Denver's biggest draft need...RB, DT or MLB?
Mel Kiper (1:44 PM)
They drafted DT last year. They don't have a pressing need. They could use an interior OL, CB, LB, DT, but nothing that's a glaring weakness. They're right there with New England. You could make an argument that they're the second best team in the AFC. Manning has made everybody on that team better. He's amazing. Credit John Elway for recruiting Manning, otherwise he would be in San Francisco. Can you imagine where Denver would be without Peyton Manning? And where would San Francisco be with Peyton Manning? They would be considered unbeatable.
Malcom (Atlanta, GA)
David Wilson. What are your thoughts after last Sunday's game? Will he prove to be as good as fellow rookies Trent Richardson and Doug Martin?
Mel Kiper (1:46 PM)
Yes. As long as he holds on to the football. He has great speed. He has confidence now. He has to eliminate the fumbling issue. The quickest way to watch from the sidelines is to fumble the ball. He has blazing speed. He is a tremendous natural athlete. One of the best natural athletes at the RB position. Tremendous speed. He could provide a major shot in the arm to that offense.
With all the red-shirt freshman leading their teams this year, do you see another outstanding QB draft in 2-3 years? At this early stage, which one looks like the best pro prospect?
Mel Kiper (1:49 PM)
I think you could. There is a lot of bright young QB prospects out there. Johnny Manziel is the one we'll be watching closely. He's only a red-shirt freshman. No question. Braxton Miller is a true sophomore. We'll watch him closely. Tyler Russell, the junior at Mississippi State. Blake Bell at Oklahoma, I'm anxious to see what he can do. We know he's a great runner, but I want to see what he can do throwing the ball. Brett Hundley, red shirt freshman at UCLA. Kevin Hogan at Stanford; Marcus Mariota at Oregon; two more red-shirt freshmen. Tedy Bridgewater at Louisville, sophomore.
Eric (New York)
Everyone knows Trent Richardson is a beast, but yet he is still only averaging 3.5 yards per carry. Is this mainly due to the Brown's o-line play or is he hesitating before hitting the holes?
Mel Kiper (1:51 PM)
I think he's done a good job running with the football. This is a team with a young QB who has had his share of inconsistency. He's missed some wide open WRs at times. They could still use some help on the OL, particularly at OG. You have to be happy with the way he's run the football. He has a bright future ahead.
Mel Kiper (1:51 PM)
Keep in mind that Arian Foster is only averaging 3.9 per carry this year.
Paul (Albany, OR)
Mel, how is the cornerback spot in this year's draft? Any chance Jordan Poyer from Oregon State gets into the top two rounds? Thank you.
Mel Kiper (1:53 PM)
Not great. There is no elite CB, but there are some very good No. 2 CBs, some nickel guys. There is good depth at CB. David Amerson didn't have nearly the year he did two seasons ago. Dee Milliner is the only CB on the Big Board right now. Watch out for these guys in the bowl games: Johnathan Banks, MS State; Jordan Poyer, Oregon State; Desmond Trufant, Washington; Leon McFadden, San Diego State; Will Davis, Utah State; Jamar Taylor, Boise State. Those are all seniors. The juniors to watch in the bowl games: Antone Exum, VT; Logan Ryan, Rutgers; David Amerson, NC State; Justin Gilbert, OK State; Xavier Rhodes, Florida State.
bryan (jersey city)
Is Dez Bryant a top ten receiver and whats his potential?
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
On talent I would. He's talented. But on consistency and attention to detail and all of those things, he's not. Dependability, reliability, he's not. When he's at his best, he's a top 3 WR. When he's not, he's got you scratching your head.
Mel Kiper (1:55 PM)
It all depends on how much he wants it.
Where do you project Kyle Long? Do you feel he's a better guard or offensive tackle prospect?
Mel Kiper (1:56 PM)
Interesting story. This is the son of Howie Long. He's played LT and OG at Oregon. He began his career at Florida State as a baseball player. He has a chance, if he has strong workouts, to be in the early round discussion. He'll be an interesting guy to follow, to see his progress through the draft process. It's not out of the realm that he is a 2 or 3 round pick.
Does a school like Michigan hurt Denard Robinson when they don't switch him to WR or RB his senior season to help with his draft stock?
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
It's not the job of a college coach to get a kid to the position he'll play at the NFL level. Randel-El was a very effective QB at Indiana. Matt Jones was a good QB at Arkansas. Urban Meyer had Tim Tebow at QB and he won the Heisman. The job of the coach is to maximize players abilities to win games. Robinson could be a return man, a slot WR. As long as he shows good hands, he could be a second round draft choice.
Mel Kiper (2:00 PM)
We have the bowls starting Saturday. We have some tremendous NFL action, and races for playoff spots. And, by the way, on the west coast, it's coming up on 12:12 p.m. It will be 12:12 on 12/12/12! Happy 12/12/12 12:12!