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!
Chris (Cape Cod)
Mel, I know it is early, but Milliner looks shaky and injury prone. I said it at the time, why didn't the Jets take Eifert with the other 1st? They desperately needed a playmaking TE...
Mel Kiper (2:04 PM)
It's way too early to start judging the rookie class after one game. These kids have to settle in and figure out what's needed at a technical position like CB. They're getting a lot out of Richardson. While Milliner is struggling, Richardson is one of the top rookies out there. He's my fourth best rookie on my rookie board. Geno Smith was my sixth best. Milliner should be fine. He's not Revis, but he's a good player and should be good for them once he settles in.
Mel, what NFL QB would you compare devan gardner to, and what does he need to work on to be an NFL ready QB?
Mel Kiper (2:06 PM)
He's worked with George Whitfield in the offseason. He has a good track record of working with QBs. Gardner had the one hiccup on Saturday. He's a former WR. The last five games at QB, he really started to come on. He got on the same page as Jeremy Gallon. He had a great game last Saturday. They have a good pass catching tandem. They thought the experience he gained late last year would help and it has. He also has the best bookend OT tandem Schofield and Lewan.
Pavone (Morehead City, NC)
Do you think Tyrod Taylor will get a legit chance at being a starting NFL QB once he becomes a free agent?
Mel Kiper (2:07 PM)
I think he's more of a change of pace backup in certain situations. He's a backup. It's questionable if he's a future starter.
B Mand (Sarasota, FL)
Things seem to be getting worse by the day for the Bucs. Please tell me this season isn't going to be a disaster.
Mel Kiper (2:10 PM)
It's heading that way. To lose that football game can catapult you or spiral you downward. David's penalty was a big mistake. The game shouldn't have been that close. It shouldn't have been that close against the Jets down the stretch. Freeman wasn't comfortable throwing the ball. Instead of coming home with a win and feeling good, they have the loss and now they have this internal issue going on. A loss can really divide a team. New Orleans is coming to town and then you have New England on the road. Arizona, then Eagles, Falcons, Panthers, Seahawks. With that schedule right now, you're looking at a lot of losses if you don't turn it around. Then you might be looking at a 4-12 season.
Mel - remind us of your take on T. Pryor? Did what you see Sunday make you think he's got a future? Sure, he's got to read defenses better but can't that be learned?
Mel Kiper (2:11 PM)
He showed some good signs in that game. He is just a little inconsistent. There's always a throw that makes you scratch your head. There is talent to work with there. He just has to find a way to be consistent.
Week 1 impressions; which rookie coach had the greatest impact on his team, relative to their teams respective starting positions of course
Mel Kiper (2:13 PM)
Probably based on how it went, Marc Trestman. Jay Cutler was only sacked once. They're starting two rookies on the OL. Trestman understands that you can't have Jay Cutler back there forever. You have to help your QB. I thought Trestman helped his QB in that game. I would say he had the biggest impact in Week 1.
Mel Kiper (2:13 PM)
I like the way he's handled Cutler.
If Mark Sanchez returns to full health, will he ever find another job in the NFL? If so, as a starter or backup?
Mel Kiper (2:16 PM)
Hard to say. It depends on how he comes back. All indications are he should be able to come back from shoulder surgery. It's not easy to find an opportunity. There aren't many teams thinking about QB, maybe Jacksonville, Oakland, Cleveland, Tampa Bay. We have to wait and see in Tennessee with Jake Locker. Those would be your possibilities for teams, but it doesn't mean that Sanchez would be in their thought process. There are QBs in this draft like Bridgewater, Morris, Hundley, Boyd, Manziel, McCarron, Fales. I think Sanchez would have to join a team as a veteran backup and hope things fall his way to get back to being a starter. You want a backup to get you through a 3-4 game stretch without your starter. Sanchez could do that. He'd be a good backup who has won in the league.
Jeremy W (Sterling, VA)
What is your current grade on Kyle Fuller from VT? His play vs Alabama two weeks has to have bumped him into 2-3 round potential.
Mel Kiper (2:18 PM)
He played high school football right here in Maryland. I saw him play. I would say he's certainly has the ability to play in the NFL. He's a really good tackler. He could be a nickel back, a dime back. That's important now with teams throwing the ball all over the place.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
How much did Aaron Murray's performance against South Carolina improve his draft stock? Does a solid performance next week in the LSU game put the "choker" label some have placed on him to rest?
Mel Kiper (2:19 PM)
It didn't hurt. He needed to play well against top teams and he did. He's a highly respected young man. More mobile than people give him credit. His arm strength has gotten better, though it's still not great. He doesn't have the imposing size. If you can get a QB like him in the third round, that'd make sense. He's a fifth year senior.
Mel Kiper (2:20 PM)
Georgia is a good football team. Even though they're young at a lot of positions, they're loaded on offense. They have LSU coming. Vanderbilt on the road. Florida. There are some challenging games coming up.
Tommy (Denver, Co)
Miami has a brutal 5 game sched to open the season (cle,ind,atl,no,bal). Do you think they have a good playoff shot if they can manage 2 of the next 4 wins?
Mel Kiper (2:23 PM)
Some people thought they'd lose to Cleveland. They won the game despite no running game. Mike Sherman helped Ryan Tannehill. He's maximized Tannehill's ability in this offense. Mike Wallace was not a factor. No running game. Dustin Keller is out. They still managed to win the game and Tannehill put up some good numbers. They play five games before the bye week and if they can come out 3-2 somehow, they have to feel great going into that bye week. It would not shock me if Miami own the division. I picked them to be a wild card. But with all of the issues with the Patriots, Vereen, Amendola, Gronkowski, etc.
It is PAINFUL to watch Logan Thomas' stock drop by the minute...how much will the scouts weigh the fact that he has no receivers to throw to....uggggg.
Mel Kiper (2:26 PM)
You've played a lot of football there, you have to find a way. There are a lot of guys who don't have ideal situations and they find a way. There are no excuses. He had a bad year last year. It's a tough situation to see a grade he once had plummet so significantly. Right now, he's not even one of my top 10 draft eligible QBs. He has to work on his accuracy. Everybody said he lacked weapons last year. They couldn't move the football, but you have to find a way. He pressed a lot last year, because it seemed like he was trying to play up to the level that everyone was talking about. Someone will take him on Day 3 and figure they have a physically gifted QB and they'll put him on the shelf for a couple of years. This kid has a lot of talent.
Keeenan (Atlanta, GA)
Is Tajh Boyd a first round draft pick?
Mel Kiper (2:27 PM)
You can't say that, because the height has to be checked. For every Russell Wilson, there are hundreds of QBs under 6 feet that don't make it. Plus Wilson was a third round pick. Boyd has tremendous charisma, great leadership ability. He knows what it takes to be a CEO of a football team. He has a live arm. He can make any throw you want. Throws the deep ball very well. If he were 6-2, 6-3, you'd be looking at the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Where does Brett Hundley rank amongst the junior signal callers? Does he have a chance to surpass Teddy Bridgewater as the #1 QB prospect this year?
Mel Kiper (2:29 PM)
He's only a third year sophomore. The draft eligible QBs, he's my No. 2 and he's No. 11 on my Big Board. He should be able to orchestrate an upset this weekend. UCLA plays at Stanford, then Oregon and Arizona with Nebraska this week. Those are four tough tests. He has great passion and work ethic. He always strives to get better. I like this kid a lot.
If Jimbo's QB success continues, will FSU get the coveted QB recruits going forward? What are your initial thoughts on Winston?
Mel Kiper (2:31 PM)
How can you not be impressed? He was record setting. He has unbelievable talent. I've been two of three on this, projecting No. 1 picks in the draft. Winston, if he keeps improving, he could be the No. 1 pick overall. I had Stafford, Luck and I missed on Barkley. We'll see Winston and Boyd. That could be the Heisman Bowl on Oct. 19.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi, If David Wilson has a repeat performance on Sunday, how long before he loses his starting job, will long before Brandon Jacobs becomes the # 1 back and will the Giants go looking for more help at running back?
Mel Kiper (2:33 PM)
You can't fumble the ball. Tom Coughlin would love to stick with Wilson. He's a home run hitting back. But he has to hold on to the football. If he doesn't, you'll be on the sidelines watching. This was the question mark on him coming out. My comment on him going into the draft was "one of the most gifted RBs I've ever graded. Excellent spin move to avoid tacklers. Great vision. Excellent running talent. What Wilson must work on is ball security. Have to eliminate the costly turnovers."
Mel Kiper (2:34 PM)
He had this problem at Virginia Tech. This is not new. They should have known. It had to be on their scouting report. It's been a problem for the Giants. He's talented, but that's why when he came out I didn't give him a first round grade. He was my 75th highest rated player.
Mel Kiper (2:34 PM)
And it was strictly due to the fumbling issue.
Martin Stowell (Boston)
How do you anticipate the Pats will attack the Jets on offense with their lack of offensive threats? A lot of running with some play action mixed in or their typical hurry up spread offense?
Mel Kiper (2:37 PM)
I think the Jets have a chance to keep this competitive, because Amendola is out. TE, WR, all young kids that weren't first round draft choices. There aren't any elite of the elite. No AJ Greens, no Tyler Eiferts, no Julio Jones. These aren't those kinds of guys. But Brady has always been able to elevate those around him. His line is solid. This could be a competitive football game. It will come down to Geno Smith. Bill Belichick gets the best of rookie QBs in New England, they are 0-4 at New England against Bill Belichick. Tannehill, Luck, Sanchez and Leftwich all lost. Geno Smith is the key guy. The Jets defense can handle the Patriots offense. If they can hold them to 24 points, they've done their job. But can the Jets score points? This needs to be a 17-13 type of game.
How many legit pro prospects are there on Michigan State's Defense? Seems like theirs is one of the top defenses in the nation but not sure if the talent translates to the NFL or not. Thanks
Mel Kiper (2:40 PM)
Good question....Bullough, Sr, MLB. He's the guy who could end up being a Day 2 pick. Darqueze Dennard, Sr, CB. He could be a second round pick. Safety, Isaiah Lewis, senior. He'll be a Day 3 pick. Denicos Allen, Sr., OLB, late round guy. Tyler Hoover, Sr, NT, another Day 3 type. The guy that's really stepped in is Shilique Calhoun, third year sophomore, DE. He's been excellent stepping in for William Gholston. He's been a real difference maker. Rush, jr., DE is another guy. Calhoun is a budding star. Lewis is a very good college player.
Mel have you checked out Stanley Jean-Baptiste from Nebraska? 6'3 corner who runs well and isn't afraid to stick his nose in there to tackle.
Mel Kiper (2:41 PM)
He's an interesting kid because he's so long. He's a big CB, about 217 pounds. Former WR in juco. He's learned to play CB. He had a very good fall camp, but he just needs to develop some consistency. They go up against Brett Hundley now. It will be interesting to see how he does against this young defense. That youth hurt them in the Wyoming game.
Who do you see as the better pro prospect in 2 years, Gurley or Yeldon?
Mel Kiper (2:43 PM)
I'll go Gurley. They're both phenomenal, but if you have to answer, I'll go Gurley. I think he'll be one of the best the SEC has ever had. From Herschel Walker to Garrison Hearst, Terrell Davis, Rodney Hampton, Georgia has had its share of good RBs. Robert Edwards, Knowshown Moreno. Gurley could be right up there with all of them. Quick, strong, big, power. Hard nosed, rugged player. He's NFL ready right now, but he obviously has to go back for his junior year.
Who do you think wins the NFC East?
Mel Kiper (2:46 PM)
I will stick with the Giants. I think they'll get better as the season goes along. RG III coming off the injury, they look like a 9-7 team. After all of the turnovers, the Giants still could have won the game against the Cowboys. The Eagles are the wild card. For all of the bad things that happened to the Redskins, they almost stole that game. The Giants are a slow starting team, but they'll be there when it matters. The Eagles, you wonder if they'll be there in the end, due to that offense. You don't know how it will wear guys down. Don't make too many rash decisions after one game. We all fall into that trap.
Mel Kiper (2:46 PM)
You start to get a good read on teams after Week 4, even Week 3. Week 1 and Week 2 are very deceiving.
Mel Kiper (2:47 PM)
Most of these games from Week 1 could have gone either way.
There might be light at the end of the tunnel for Wazzu fans. What were your impressions of the win over USC?
Mel Kiper (2:50 PM)
I thought USC was just awful on offense. The QB position is just not able to get it done. Marqise Lee has suffered before because of it. With Matt Barkley, he was dynamic. With the QB situation now, every drop is magnified. He had Barkley had a great rapport. How much of that is his fault? You can't bump him down significantly and let bad QB play drop him. This team needs to find a QB. That position needs to be 1,000% better. But this team wasn't impressive against Hawaii. They lost to Washington State. Utah State is a tough team. This team could go 6-7 or even 5-8 if they don't turn things around. They lost to WSU as a two TD favorite.
Mel Kiper (2:54 PM)
Deone Bucannon is a senior safety and is a very impressive player for Washington State. He seems to have an NFL future. Tough, good tackler. I like how he plays the game.
Suburban Rhythm (Pittsburgh)
The Steelers OL is abysmal! Will L Bell be able to make them appear even mediocre when he returns?
Mel Kiper (2:54 PM)
They weren't very good going in and now to lose Pouncey at center hurts big time. This is a football team that you look at and they could be right there with Cleveland. Baltimore and Cincinnati appear to be the two teams that will battle in that division. Pittsburgh was woeful on offense. They could be in for a long year.
B Mand (Sarasota, FL)
Based on the talent and schedule, what are realistic expectations for the Noles this year?
Mel Kiper (2:56 PM)
The realistic expectation depends on the Clemson game on the road. That's the toughest game on the schedule. Then they host Miami, they're an improved football team. Florida, Nov. 30 to end the year. Win two of those three and you're 11-1. That's a very possible regular season. They have the talent to win two of those three. The worst case scenario is 9-3, with the best case 11-1. When you have a special QB, he will overcome a lot of ill wills. They have three very high picks on that OL and four, maybe five total.
Andrew(MPLS,MN) [via mobile]
Is it time to pull the plug on Ponder? He cannot handle pressure at all. If I didn't watch all the games I would have guessed he was a rookie playing his first game last Sunday. He is also inaccurate/inconsistent. Love your work.
Mel Kiper (2:58 PM)
The problem is, where are you going to go? He's a young QB. We've said all along the x-factor on all of those teams is the QB. Rodgers is the best in the division. Then Cutler and Stafford next, in any order. Then it's Ponder. You have the fourth best QB in the division, that's not good. You have the best RB in the game in Peterson. Last year they relied heavily on the TE, so in defense of Ponder, they don't have a lot of good WR. We'll see and I won't overreact to one game.
Mel Kiper (2:59 PM)
We have three college games and one NFL game tonight. We're already in Week 3 of college football. It's hard to believe. Before you know it, it will be Halloween!
Buzzmaster (2:59 PM)
Thanks for chatting Mel!