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 have a feeling Montee Ball is going to follow a very Russell Wilsonesque path coming up. Get drafted later than he should because he doesn't have the eye popping measurables, followed by a run of solid success in the NFL that get people wondering how he lasted so long in the first place.
Mel Kiper (1:06 PM)
That makes sense because he is a RB. RB's always drop. Always. I say it all the time. Historically RBs with ability drop further than they should. How many teams are going to look at RB as a top need? Probably five teams have RB as a top 4 need. And some of those it's the fourth need! It's a QB driven league with most teams having a stable of RBs already. Alfred Morris is having a great season with the Redskins and he was a sixth round choice. We see that all the time, RBs getting passed over. History shows us that. Ballard in Indy has had an outstanding year and he was a fifth round pick. That leads to Ball.. could he be a third round pick? Maybe. He has great vision and finds those seams very effectively. He reshaped his body, dropped 25 pounds, and added muscle. As far as a pure runner, he's a 'we' and 'us' guy and not an 'I' and 'me' guy. Unless you are an elite back, you are going to drop a little bit.
It appears that Star Lotulelei is a top pick and may be the best talent available for the Chiefs. Can the Chiefs maintain a 3-4 defense which includes both Dontari Poe as well as Lotulelei or would they have to implement a new defense?
Mel Kiper (1:08 PM)
I don't think they can draft another DT. Jackson, Poe ... now Star? He's a powerful kid, very agile and strong, but they need other areas. Joeckel from A&M would be a nice addition at left tackle. I could see them going that direction over Lotulelei.
Mel, it seems like Geno Smith has all the intangibles plus above average mobility. Do you think after the combine if he shows he can play under C the Chiefs will grab him if he solidifies as a top 10 pick?
Mel Kiper (1:09 PM)
I think he would be in the discussion. Senior Bowl week will be very important for him and all the seniors. Glennon could move up that high if he does well at the Senior Bowl.
Chris (Columbus, Oh)
Hey Mel, A friend and I were discussing Denard Robinson. He is thinking Robinson will go in the third round (he is a Michigan fan). I am saying he goes 6 or 7 round at best (I'm an OSU fan). Am I being a homer or is he?
Mel Kiper (1:10 PM)
I think the second round! At worst third round. That is contingent on his Senior Bowl practices and his Pro Day. He has speed and can be a situational running back. He can be a Wildcat QB, return man, etc. I think he has second round value.
Do you think Gabe Carimi is a bust, or do you still have faith that he can develop in to a good player?
Mel Kiper (1:11 PM)
He's got some ability. He won't be a Pro Bowl caliber guy, but he can play. The OL in Chicago needs more talent at LT, Guard, etc. Cutler has been hit way too many times this year. He can still be a good player in this league if the OL gets some help.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Mel, Now that Greg McElroy will be the Jets starter on Sunday, what will become of Tim Tebow the rest of this year and possibly next year? And will Mark Sanchez be a part of the Jets next year?
Mel Kiper (1:14 PM)
It means Sanchez still has a lot of money coming his way. Don't forget that. If they let him go it would be a huge cap hit. The QB that will start in 2013 isn't there right now. Sanchez has totally lost his confidence and the whole offense has been a disaster. They lack personnel. Everyone in that organization deserves some of the blame. The cap hit will probably prevent them from letting him go. Tebow won't be back. Why they brought him in in the first place I don't know. It coudln't have been Rex who brought him in because of how little he played. It makes me think it was all Woody Johnson. McElroy and Sanchez will be there but I don't see either of them starting next year.
Larry (New York)
Hey Mel, everyone has ripped the Redskins for their lack of emphasis of the draft over the years, but the past few years, has anyone maneuvered and drafted better then the Skins?
Mel Kiper (1:17 PM)
RG III has saved them. Also Alfred Morris. They gave up a lot to get RG III but it has been worth it already. And Morris was a great sixth round pick. That was phenomenal. They hit the jackpot. If RG III can learn to slide and not take hits, he will have a long career. He got hit hard three times in that Ravens game. He's taking too many unwarranted hits. He's a smart guy so he will learn from this and change his mode of operation. The Redskins hit on a QB so they are ahead of the game. Shanahan has been a master QB developer. He had Brian Griese playing great for a season. Plummer had productive years in Denver. Shanahan knows how to develop QBs and RBs.
Michael [via mobile]
Have we been spoiled by the last two drafts? The number of impact guys, especially elite talent guys, is unbelievable. Can this draft come close?
Mel Kiper (1:19 PM)
I don't know if it will be as productive this year. But I think at certain positions it could be deeper. Guys from last year have already shown huge potential. From the first round we have 20-25 players playing extremely well as rookies.
Mel Kiper (1:20 PM)
LeMichael James was inactive most of the year and then showed up and basically won the game for the Niners against the Patriots. He was drafted in the second round. Denver's first pick was second round and Derrick Wolf has done a great job. There was a ton of talent in last year's draft, no question.
What kind of trade value in terms of draft picks do you think Kirk Cousins has?
Mel Kiper (1:22 PM)
It's still early. He's had one game really. His numbers are through the roof so far ... his QB Rating is 101.6. 66.8 completion. He has been lights out. Shanahan has that magic touch with QBs. Does that mean Cousins can be elite somewhere else, we don't know yet. I think the Redskins could have gone another direction with that pick, but he has come up big this year for them.
So much of player success seemed to be based on the situations they were put in and the mental aspects of the game. I always think of Patrick Ramsey who I think could've been a very good NFL QB were it not for a Spurrier offense, too man early hits, and Gibbs crushing any confidence he had. Who are the prospects that missed, but you think you were right on and just got put in bad situations.
Mel Kiper (1:25 PM)
When you see who takes a player, you think about the situation he is going to. When it's a questionable organization, yes, you worry about how it will hurt him. Alfred Morris is a good example. Elsewhere he could be struggling. But he is in a good system with the right coaching. What would have happened if Marino had gone to the Lions? We'll never know. What about Drew Brees to Miami instead of the Saints? Then that could have affected Saban .. he could still be coaching the Dolphins! And Alabama wouldn't have had him! On and on!
Milson Bickerstaff (Manalapan, NJ)
With more teams moving back to a 4-3 alignment, do MLB have more draft value than in the past?
Mel Kiper (1:28 PM)
I've always believed they have big value. He is the leader of your defense. The QB of your defense if you will. Patrick Willis ... Ray Lewis .. Brian Urlacher ... Brian Cushing ... those inside/middle LB types are key. They are your inspirational leaders. Yes, I would say they have good value right now. Te'o has shown what kind of leader he can be.
Do you think Ken Whisenhunt is regretting the decision to cut ties with Matt Leinart as much as I hope he is? I still believe Leinart could have been successful in Arizona if given the proper opportunity.
Mel Kiper (1:29 PM)
That's another one we just don't know. Remember Haley was there at the time and they inherited Leinart. He showed promise on that MNF game where the Bears came back to beat them. They caught lighting in a bottle with Warner and now here we are. But if Green had remained coach it would be different. Now Leiart is just bouncing around. It's unfortunate he got hurt in Houston. He's had a lot of bad luck.
Mel Kiper (1:30 PM)
Whisenhunt doesn't regret the decision though. He was never a Leinart believer in the first place. They are in the predicament they are because the QB got hurt. I think Whisenhunt is a good coach ... you don't go from good to bad like that. They just didn't have anything when Kolb got hurt.
Do you think the Bears could benefit from an offensive minded HC like Gruden?
Mel Kiper (1:32 PM)
I don't care who your coach or OC is, you have to protect the QB and they can't do that right now. Their OL is far below average. You can't win with that OL. Even if they did make the playoffs, they wouldn't go anywhere. Doesn't matter who the QB, coach or OC is ... it's a leaky OL.
Speaking of Sanchez, I heard a lot of commentators suggesting the jets "stunted his growth". How does one stunt the growth of a QB? Lack of coaching, lack of players around him? Is the suggestion that if Sanchez had been with a different organization that had spent more time nurturing him that he would be better?
Mel Kiper (1:33 PM)
They brought in Sporano as OC and that hasn't worked. They shouldn't have brought Tebow in. They didn't have much talent around him. Injuries hurt. WR has been deplorable. They can't really run the ball. It's just been one thing after another. They have a lot of needs and they need a QB. There will more than likely be a new GM and possibly a new coach.
Who will be the highest drafted player from division 2 or lower?
Mel Kiper (1:39 PM)
Under the radar guys ... WR Aaron Mellette from Elon ... OG Earl Watford from James Madison ... LT JC Tretter from Cornell who will play center ... DT Brandon Williams from Missouri Southern ... C Eric Kush from Cal PA ... OG Lamar Mady from Youngstown State ... WR Charles Johnson from Grand Valley State .. OLB Keith Pough from Howard ... S JJ Wilcox from Georgia Southern ... CB B.W. Webb from William and Mary ..
To have its best chance to upset Alabama, Notre Dame must _________?
Mel Kiper (1:41 PM)
be able to find a way to score 20 points. This is not a great Bama defense but a very good one. ND's offense will be questioned, but they have playmakers. They've seen guys emerge as the season has gone along ... TJ Jones has really come along well. Just find a way to put 20 on the board and I think they could win a 20-17 game. These two teams are very similar. The great DL of ND against the great OL of Alabama. It should be fun to watch.
Mel Kiper (1:42 PM)
Amari Cooper is a guy who has really been making spectacular plays for Alabama. They can't allow Cooper to beat them.
The Lions need help in their secondary and pass rush, but Stafford has taken alot of hits this year. Would it be a stretch for them to think offensive line with a first round pick?
Mel Kiper (1:43 PM)
After taking Reif last year, I think yes, a bit of a stretch. But they do need to improve. CB and S have to improve.
Mel Kiper (1:43 PM)
Stafford held the ball a lot because he didn't have a lot of open receivers. He didn't have a lot of weapons. Teams were bracketing Johnson and forcing Stafford to make more reads.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
I've heard a couple of experts say that Marquise Lee was actually the best player in the country..any validity to this?
Mel Kiper (1:45 PM)
You can make that argument. You could say if he was coming out this year he would be No. 2 on the big board. Jadeveon Clowney would be No. 1 and Marqise Lee No. 2 if including underclassmen.
I know where Matt Barkley ranks on your Big Board, but where do you ultimately see him falling in the Draft? Any chance he plays in the Senior Bowl to right the ship?
Mel Kiper (1:47 PM)
I don't know if he will go to the Senior Bowl or not. They would love to have him I'm sure. You'd love to see him and Geno Smith, Tyler Wilson, etc. You want to see the guys who need it. They all so. Mike Glennon as well. I think Barkley goes between 25-45.
Daryl (Van Buren, AR)
Any rumors floating around of New England trading Ryan Mallett to someone like KC or Arizona for picks?
Mel Kiper (1:49 PM)
I don't think he has much value right now. He wasn't a first round guy. Cassell was in a similar situation and that hasn't worked out well. Kevin Kolb didn't work out well. There's not much of a track record there for guys who didn't go early and had to develop behind someone. That does't help him.
Mel Kiper (1:49 PM)
Matt Schaub is probably one of the few instances where it worked.
Shaun (Vancouver, WASH)
If you were the Steelers would you let Wallace walk and grab either Terrance Williams or Markus Wheaton later on?
Mel Kiper (1:50 PM)
Wallace is a tough call. Being the go-to guy he has dropped some catchable balls. I'd like to see him step up at critical moments. He has great speed, but I still think he can take it to another level.
Don (Berkeley, CA)
Is the message to all USC quarterbacks from this point on, to leave when you're hot, and not come back for another year (Leinart, Barkley)? Both players stock dropped significantly.
Mel Kiper (1:52 PM)
Sanchez came out early and maybe that extra year would have helped him. You could have make an argument that Barkley could have gone No. 4 to Browns and probably no worse than No. 10. Now you are looking at 25-45.
marc willingboro nj [via mobile]
mel, most pressing giants need, cornerback or oline. When will salary cap go up?
Mel Kiper (1:54 PM)
You could make an argument when you have Eli it should be OL. He looked like a future HOFer going into the season. His yards/pass is 7.3 which is good. But he's 60.4 completion and 20 TD/15 INT .. that's not a good ratio. Brady is 30/6. Peyton is 31/10. Ryan is 27/14. Brees is 36/18. Andrew Luck is 20/18. That puts things in perspective.
Chris Talerico (CA)
With the 49ers being so deep, what position will they be looking for at draft time?
Mel Kiper (1:58 PM)
WR. They did get AJ Jenkins last year but they need some production out of him. That's about it. Maybe a TE. They have some FA's on the defensive line. But no pressing needs they have to fill. I want to wish everyone happy holidays and safe travels to your destinations! Hope you get a white Christmas! I'll be back next week the day after Christmas!