Chat with Mel Kiper
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, 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 Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:02 PM)
Mel is here!
ben (los angeles)
Mel, any thoughts on tonights Stanford/Oregon game?
Mel Kiper (2:03 PM)
It's huge for Marcus Mariota. It's huge for his draft possibility. For his Heisman chances. For Oregon's national championship hopes. They've lost at home in the past but this is on the road. They could come out of this game with the chances for a national title game spot and a Heisman.
I've watched some tape of Derek Carr from Fresno St. and he seems to have all of the tools and an NFL arm. Is he a guy that might surprise and be drafted in the first two rounds of the draft next year, or will his system and his brother hold him back?
Mel Kiper (2:05 PM)
His brother was the no. 1 pick overall. Derek will be in the mix with a number of QBs. You could be the 8th or 9th ranked QB and be a 2-3 round grade. Carr, if he makes the Senior Bowl, will be big for him. Their schedule doesn't allow for any big wins. You like what you see from him. He's an athlete. He can pick up first downs with his legs. Senior Bowl week will be critical.
DJ (Roanoke, VA)
Hi, Mel. Do you think Mark Helfrich is one of the best coaches in the country? He's done a fabulous job with the Ducks so far this season.
Mel Kiper (2:06 PM)
He has an awful lot of talent. They were able to retain their DC in Nick Aliotti. He's one of the best in the country. And he had to overcome not having two of the best defensive players in the country. Offensively, they have great players. Great QB. RB. Future NFL center. Tremendous football team.
Chris (Cape Cod)
Mel, seems to me the best thing the Jets can give Geno would be a playmaking TE as a safety valve. Assuming they're somewhere int he middle of Round 1, would they be better with a hybrid type like Ebron or a better blocker like Sefarian-Jenkins who comes with some baggage?
Mel Kiper (2:07 PM)
The TE that will be in the middle of the first round will be Ebron and a TE in the second round, Jace Amaro and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. The only first round TE is Ebron and he'll go in the middle of the first.
DJ (Roanoke, VA)
In your opinion, are the Giants destined to make a run and potentially make the playoffs this season? They were 0-6 and now they are 2-6. And despite Eli's struggles this year, isn't it great knowing that he's going to be under center for the team each and every week? He's never missed a start in his career.
Mel Kiper (2:10 PM)
I picked them to win the East and I'm going to be completely wrong. They're done. Mabye I'll be wrong on that too. They beat Josh Freeman, who didn't know the offense. They beat the Eagles, who are a mediocre football team and they had hurt QBs. They have Oakland coming up. Green Bay without Aaron Rodgers. If they don't beat Oakland and Green Bay, then they're definitely done. Then they have Dallas, Washington, San Diego, Seattle, Detroit, Washington. Their final six games are all games they could lose. I don't see them being any better than a 6-10 team.
Mel Kiper (2:10 PM)
They've put themselves too deep in a hole.
Marcus (Charlotte NC)
Mel,DT Kelcy Quarles is having a great year thus far with 7 sacks and 11 tackles for lost. How do you feel about his draft projection at 6-4 300lbs. Also heard he ran a 4.87 in the spring.
Mel Kiper (2:11 PM)
He's a good football player. He's a solid player. It's surprising you'd make that decision this early. He'll get early round consideration. When you don't have to decide until the middle of January, just worry about the football. There are three regular season games left. Kids should be worried about playing college football. Don't worry about the draft right now.
Mel, how would you compare HA HA to Mark Barron? Who has the better career path in your opinion? Thank you Mel.
Mel Kiper (2:12 PM)
Coverage wise, Ha-Ha is outstanding. Barron was an enforcer. But in this NFL, you worry more about coverage. Hitting hard now gets you penalties. Looking at coverage abilities is so important. That's why I think he could be a top 10-15 pick when we get to May.
Missouri has some real play-makers on their D-Line? How would you rank them? Any first rounders?
Mel Kiper (2:14 PM)
Michael Sam has a second or third round grade right now. Ealy is a junior. He's a good pass rusher.
Could you give me a comparison of DeAnthony Thomas and Jacquizz Rodgers?
Mel Kiper (2:15 PM)
He's not a Rodgers type. He could be more of a Darren Sproles type. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. He's fast. Game breaker. You can get him in the return game. Rodgers is more of a compact, low-base, super strong kid. Thomas has more explosiveness.
B Mand (Sarasota, FL)
How many QBs from this year's class will you give a 1st round grade to?
Mel Kiper (2:16 PM)
You could have as many as five. That depends on what juniors come out. Every one of these kids that I'm projecting is a junior or third-year sophomore. If some kids come back, you're looking at least at 3.
What are your thoughts on what the 49ers are doing with Marcus Lattimore by having him sit the entire season, and with your gut feeling what percentage chance does Lattimore have to be like he was in college? Thanks Mel
Mel Kiper (2:16 PM)
This is a red-shirt year for him. If he stays healthy, he's a first round pick, at worst a second rounder. With medical technology the way it is, you hope he can be back the same player. He was a dynamic runner.
Cowboys fan here. I can't comprehend what's to be done about this defense. They've invested a ton in the secondary and it just hasn't worked out at all. It's easy to blame the D-line's injuries, but they're 13th in sacks, 31st in passing yards. What do you think?
Mel Kiper (2:19 PM)
The Cowboys have been a .500 team for a long time. They're 5-4 now. If they lose to New Orleans, they're 5-5 going into the bye week. After that, the schedule gets easier. Giants, Chicago, Green Bay, Philly. They should be no worse than 9-7. Maybe 10-6. They've had issues all over. They're still trying to find themselves as a team. They haven't played four full quarters. They need to play a full game. You can't lose that game to the Lions. They're very inconsistent.
Jeremy (Sterling, VA)
Hey Mel, if the Vikings do indeed wind up drafting top 5, is it a certainty that they would take a QB? Thanks!
Mel Kiper (2:20 PM)
I would have to think so. They're in a division where all the other QBs are 1,000% better than what they have. You have to look at a QB. Mariota, Bridgewater, they have to look at a QB.
Lots of great rookie RBs this year. Bell, Lacy, Bernard etc all contributing right away. Do you see that happening again next year?
Mel Kiper (2:22 PM)
The rookie RBs are starting to come around now. Stacey has been one of the lite rookies at RB. Ellington has performed well. For next year, we'll have to see what juniors come out. Gordon III, Seastrunk, Thomas? Sankey? All of the best RBs are juniors. We're very early to knowing which RBs will be in the draft.
Dan (Rochester, NY)
Mel, if Manuel comes back and shows progress, what positions do you think the Bills will look for in the draft? Despite their record, I think they have some talent on both sides of the ball.
Mel Kiper (2:23 PM)
They drafted him to be the guy. And he looked pretty good before he got hurt. He was looking better than Geno Smith before he got hurt. How does he perform the rest of the way? They drafted him where they did with the idea he'll be their QB. We'll find out. Josh Freeman was the QB for the Bucs when he had the first good year of his career, look how that worked out. One good year, 3-4 good games does not a career make. We'll see how it works out.
Mel, Aaron Donald from Pitt is having a solid season that most don't seem to notice. What is his potential and how do you see him at the next level? Can he rise to a 1st or 2nd rounder?
Mel Kiper (2:26 PM)
He's had an outstanding year. Very active. Very disruptive. It will be interesting to see him against Notre Dame and Watt. Bodine will be an interesting matchup for him against North Carolina. Two interesting matchups coming up for him. Right now, he would be my 8th highest rated draft eligible DT.
What's your take on Al Golden? I think he's great, and is leading Miami in the right direction.
Mel Kiper (2:27 PM)
He's done a nice job. They're starting to develop some depth. They don't have Duke Johnson for the rest of the season. They've had injuries at WR. They have young players on defense who are playing well. This is not where they will be 2-3 years from now, they'll be better. So 7-1 is a great place to be. This is a big game. They can't be licking their wounds from the FSU game. This is a dangerous game for Miami. It's homecoming. They're a TD favorite against Virginia Tech. They have a good defense.
Redskins and Vikings tonight. Who do you like, and can the Skins make a run for the East?
Mel Kiper (2:29 PM)
This is a game that will determine if they can make a run. They're 3-5. They were very fortunate to beat San Diego. San Diego should have run the football twice late instead of passing it. That was terrible play calling. That allowed the Redskins to steal that game. Keenan Allen had two major mistakes for the Chargers. You can't win a game like that and then give it back. They have to find a way to tackle Adrian Peterson. This has been a poor tackling team and a poor defensive team. It will be a challenge, because the defense is awful. This is not a game you can sleep on. It's a national game. Minnesota is at home. Beware Washington.
Mel Kiper (2:30 PM)
I think this is a toss-up game. They should win.
Of the top ~10 WR prospects, who's the fastest, and who has the best hands?
Mel Kiper (2:30 PM)
The fastest will probably end up being Tevin Reese from Baylor. The best hands might be Mike Evans, Texas A-M.
Tom (Jax, FL)
How are the best 4-3 DE's available in this year's draft. Seems like there are more 3-4 OLBs in this year's crop.
Mel Kiper (2:32 PM)
Jadaveon Clowney will be the best 4-3 DE. Aaron Lynch, USF. Chris Smith, Arkansas. James Gayle, VT. Marcus Smith, Louisville. Michael Sam, Missouri.
Do you think Brandin Cooks is ready for the NFL right now? Will he go?
Mel Kiper (2:34 PM)
Sean Mannion, if he goes back to play QB next year, I think it would help Cooks to go back. But you're not going to get any bigger. He's a diminutive dynamo. For his size, you're getting a lot of ability. He's a nice, nice player. He's considered a team leader. He's tremendously fast. Good worker. If he came out, I would have to think about a second round possibility. He is about 5-9, 180.
Mel Kiper (2:34 PM)
I see a little Steve Smith in this kid. I like him a lot. But another year might propel him into the first round.
Any thoughts on why Trent Richardson is being outperformed by Donald Brown? Will he ever recover?
Mel Kiper (2:35 PM)
Donald Brown was a first round pick for a reason. He was a highly regarded player coming out of UConn. That's a pick that turned out to pay dividends. He has good vision. He runs hard. He can play. Trent Richardson, I said it was a great trade. I said Cleveland got the best of that trade. He did not perform well in Cleveland. His ypc has not been good. Right now, Brown is the better player.
Tom (Dubuque, IA)
Who are your top tackles coming out? Where does Iowa's Scherff rank?
Mel Kiper (2:37 PM)
He's up there. He's not up there with Jake Matthews, but I think as a LT, I like Scherff's feet. His pass protection skills needs help. He's the best run blocking LT that I've ever seen. He just buries the DE. He's a destructive player. His pass blocking is good. He was a QB and punter in high school. He has incredible strength. At worst, he will be a great RT. I have him No. 21 on the Big Board. He is probably the 3-4 best LT.
With FSU moving Christian Jones to DE, do you think that helps or hurts his draft stock? Where could you see him going in the draft and is he better at DE or LB? Thanks
Mel Kiper (2:38 PM)
It helps him, because it shows his pass rush ability. He played ILB. He played OLB. Now Jeremy Pruitt is getting him after the QB. He can play 3-4, 4-3, inside, outside. He has a lot of versatility. That will only help him. His father Willie Jones played in the NFL. Christian Jones' versatility really helps him.
Mel, Who are the top safety's in this years draft?
Mel Kiper (2:40 PM)
It's Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama could be a 10-15 pick. LaMarcus Joyner. Two real good ones tonight: Ahmad Dixon, Baylor and Ed Reynolds, Stanford. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is a CB at Oregon and he's my 8th highest rated player. Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma. A lot of good DBs on the field tonight in these games.
Mel Kiper (2:41 PM)
Clinton-Dix is the only first round safety I see and because of that, he could be a top 10-15 pick.
The Rams have 2 picks in the draft...Who should they be targeting?
Mel Kiper (2:42 PM)
I like their defense. I like that they drafted defense with the guys they drafted or brought in. You have to look at this football team and think OL. You need to protect the QB. You need a true No. 1 WR. Austin is not a No. 1. Brian Quick has been a disappointment. Stacey has done a nice job at RB, but maybe add another RB late. So, the OL and WR are two key areas. Sam Bradford is coming off of a knee injury. You have to protect the QB.
Greg (MD) [via mobile]
Why isnt McCarron a 1st round prospect
Mel Kiper (2:44 PM)
He could become one. The big thing is the Senior Bowl Week. These games coming up will be important. Iron Bowl. LSU. The SEC title game. The bowl game. But the Senior Bowl will be important. I think he can make all of the throws. I like how he uses the pocket. He has the size. Intelligence. Work ethic. Intangibles. If he does well Senior Bowl week, he could move into the first round projection.
John Senkpiel (Kansas City)
Can the Kansas City Chiefs and Alex Smith turn the offense around before the Denver game?
Mel Kiper (2:46 PM)
I think what you see is what you get. You can't change who you are now. You're into the second half of the season now. They're playing Denver out of the bye week and then they play again in a few weeks. You saw last week when they got points from the defense. The defense won that game again. This has been as opportunistic team as I have ever seen. Some of the bottom end teams of this league, they've struggled against. They beat the Giants, but a lot had to do with the punt return by McCluster. They'll win some close games, but I wonder about that formula in the playoffs. I could see them winning one game in the postseason and then lose. But remember, this was a 2-win team last year.
Mel Kiper (2:47 PM)
Dontari Poe has been playing excellent. Marcus Cooper has played great in the secondary. I don't take anything away from them. I think they'll split the two games with Denver -- win at home and lose on the road. Arrowhead could be one of the three best homefield advantages.
bigger issue for manziel: durability or off-field issues?
Mel Kiper (2:49 PM)
I think the biggest thing with him will be only being 6-feet tall. His passing has improved this year, a lot. He's tremendously competitive. I don't think it has anything to do with his arm. The off-the-field stuff will all be checked out. The size is the only thing that will prevent you from going crazy. If he were 6-2, 6-3, he'd be in the mix to be the top pick in the draft. I said the same thing about Russell Wilson.
I know this is a sensitive subject for you but do you think Ray Rice might be hitting the wall? Should the Ravens think about drafting his replacement this year? Pierce hasn't really shown the ability to take over given the opportunity.
Mel Kiper (2:51 PM)
Bernard Pierce has a lot of ability. They changed their blocking scheme. They've had major OL injury problems. Outside of Miami, they've had the worst OL. That's impacted the running game and everything they've done. The OL has been dreadful. The injuries really hurt. But I always like drafting RBs late. You can find them every year. Ray Rice has some wear on the tires.
Steelers draft: what needs to be addressed in the first couple rounds?
Mel Kiper (2:52 PM)
They have to solidify the OL. That's the biggest issue I see. They have to keep getting better on defense. That might be the biggest concern. It's a shell of what it used to be. That's what they have to address. They did last year and they added a couple of good young players. They also need to add a WR.
Mel Kiper (2:52 PM)
They're 2-6 for a reason. They'll probably finish at 6-10, 5-11.
JJ Sac [via mobile]
Mel, What's the ceiling on Colin Kaepernick!!
Mel Kiper (2:54 PM)
He doesn't have any weapons this year. Hopefully Michael Crabtree is ready to come back. Boldin has been the only guy. Vernon Davis has to be out there every week. Look at Brady. He was impacted by weapon issues earlier in the year. Look at Matt Ryan without Julio Jones and Roddy White being hurt. QBs without weapons, you're shooting blanks.
Mel Kiper (2:54 PM)
You can not put up numbers in the passing game without weapons. You can have a superior QB, but without weapons it doesn't matter.
Hector (Aurora, IL)
Bears targeting DL help or CB/S help in the 1st round? What are some realistic options?
Mel Kiper (2:55 PM)
I'd say DL. They have to get better on the DL. That's the area I would look to address first. And also, the secondary would be in line next. But I look closer to the ball. You can mask problems in the secondary with a great DL.
Mel Kiper (2:56 PM)
They added a couple of nice LBs in the draft. Now, you can help the DL. You're not that far away. Probably 3 players away from having a chance to do some serious damage.
Mel Kiper (2:56 PM)
Enjoy tonight! It's going to be a great night of college football. We'll know a lot more about who the elite players are.