Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

January 13, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Mel Kiper

Buzzmaster
  (1:01 PM)

We've got Mel!

Mel Kiper
  (1:03 PM)

We have a huge weekend in the NFL with the second round of the playoffs. And on Friday, we'll have the deadline for the juniors coming into the draft. We'll have the first, first round projection in the middle of next week.

Chris (Rockville, MD)

How has Chad Henne progressed through the season? Should we expect more improvement next year?

Mel Kiper
  (1:07 PM)

I think Chad needs to make strides in terms of consistency throwing the football. There were games where he looked as a solid future starting QB and others where he didn't look as good. The reason he was a late second round pick was that he was inconsistent and not as accurate at Michigan. He had first round talent. People forget that he wasn't Miami's first second round pick. They got him later in the round. They need to get better around him. And taking him out of the flow of a game with the Wildcat is a tough thing. That's an adjustment. I think he made progress. Can he be better than good? That's the question. That will be determined by if he can be more consistent. There are some easy throws that he miss fires on. He has to smooth out the rough spots.

Larry (Maryland)

Any chance Berry falls to KC at #5?? If not, who do you see them going with, or are they able to trade down.

Mel Kiper
  (1:08 PM)

I don't think he gets to 5. I think he goes 3 to Tampa Bay. The Lions are picking second. They need Gerald McCoy to secure the defensive front. They took Delmas last year in the second round. They found their safety. Berry would be an ideal pick for Tampa with the third pick overall. Suh goes No. 1 and then McCoy and then Berry.

Ryan (Kansas City)

What are your thoughts on Aaron Curry and Tyson Jackson after year one?

Mel Kiper
  (1:10 PM)

They're trying to find their way in the NFL. For a kid like Curry, he was not an attacking LB at Wake. He was a coverage guy, sound fundamentally. He was not a dominant blitzing LB. He had to adjust to the NFL. When you're in a 3-4 scheme, you're not going to get a lot of productivity too. Both of these kids played on subpar teams and are still developing. A new coaching staff coming into Seattle with Pete Carrol and the same in Kansas City with their new coordinators.

brian (seattle)

Mel, Does Pete Carroll change your draft for the Seahawks? thanks!

Mel Kiper
  (1:13 PM)

He'll look more at USC players. What they do is tend to bring in players from your program. Does he try to go get Matt Leinart? Does Arizona view Matt Leinart as the next guy after Kurt Warner? College coaches that go to the NFL, they tend to look to bring in players they recruited, coached. Guys in the draft: Joe McKnight, Stafan Johnson, Damian Williams, Anthony McCoy, Charles Brown, Everson Griffen, Josh Pinkard, Will Harris, Taylor Mays. A couple of those guys will more than likely be wearing a Seahawks uniform. They have to find a QB. Do you draft a Jimmy Clausen, whom Carrol played against? Bradford? The Redskins will more than likely pick one of those two, so Carrol will be looking at one of them.

Pat (Boise)

I'm a big fan of Kyle Wilson as many Boise fans are. I see him being drafted mid to late 2nd round, possibly early 3rd. What is your thought? I thought the hit he put on the TCU QB would help in the question of his physicality.

Mel Kiper
  (1:15 PM)

I thought he could be a late one, early two when the season began. He didn't have a great year. He has tremendous athleticism. He'll probably run a sub 4.4 at the combine. His other plus is as a punt returner. I'd say late second, early third. His stock did drop a little this year, but he should impress the NFL brass during the workouts.

Andy (Tampa)

Who do you rate as the top full backs in the draft.

Mel Kiper
  (1:17 PM)

It's not a great year, but there are some guys. This position has all but been phased out in the NFL. There are probably about 8-10 guys that deserve at least a look in camp. Rashawn Jackson out of Virginia is the top guy. He's more of a big back than a fullback. He had a couple of excellent games. Good athlete. He was their primary ball carrier in a number of games this season. He's an impressive back at 6-1, 247. John Conner out of Kentucky. Jameson Konz, Kent State. Tonga out of BYU. Andrew Hawken, Michigan State. Cory Jackson, Maryland. There are a decent number of guys.

RC (Concord NC)

Mel. is there hope for Vernon Gholston?

Mel Kiper
  (1:19 PM)

It's dwindling. We're kind of losing hope. My attitude was if Rex Ryan couldn't make it for a player, you kind of lose hope. Rex finds a way to put a player in position to make plays. His hope at the beginning of the season was to make it work. But it's a shame. It's a surprise. Normally those types of edge guys -- and he was expected to be that kind of guy, the edge guy harrassing the QB -- make it right away in the NFL. You normally get immediate production out of those players. That's a big red flag and the chances for him being successful in the NFL are deteriorating. He's been a major disappointment.

Rod (Waimanalo, HI.)

With all the bowl games finished, whose stock has dropped the most do to their play in the bowl games?

Mel Kiper
  (1:23 PM)

In terms of dropping the most, you don't want to say the most, but Brandon Spikes from Florida, there were questions about his speed. But there was one play against Tony Pike and it looked like he could make a play and hit him before he got the ball off, but that wasn't the case. To me, it looked like the speed question could be accurate. His combine speed will be critical. Wooten from Northwestern didn't have the year he had as a junior, but he was coming off of a knee injury, so I have to give him a mulligan. He'll be an interesting guy to watch in the draft. He dropped from 10 sacks in 2008 to 3. 16.5 tackles for a loss to 5. When he started playing in Sepetember, he was only 7 months removed from major knee surgery. He'll be a very intriguing guy to watch. Those are a couple of interesting guys to look for in the draft. Pike, too. He was red hot early to mid season lost some of his momentum late i the year.

DJ (Chicago)

Does Lane Kiffin leave USC or does he receive a pink slip?

Mel Kiper
  (1:27 PM)

I think this whole loyalty thing is getting irritated to me. People are talking about Lane's loyalty, but are universities loyal to coaches? They're looking for reasonable cause to fire coaches. We're in a dangerous time now. I don't know if it's because of the economy, but firing coaches for cause is something you haven't heard about in years. Leach, Mangino and Leavitt all fired for cause. When you do that, you have a huge savings in money. Loyalty to me, is a two way street. We have big money in college athletics. Big money being paid. You look at Lane, he left Tennessee to go to USC. That's where he was. He left there to go to the NFL. For USC, they went after somebody that was successful there. They're familiar with each other. I don't see this as anything shocking. USC tried other avenues, but then came down to USC. There has to be familiarity. I don't want to hear about loyalty anymore. It's a two-way street. I think we have a big problem right now in college sports, college football in particular. Coaches just can't coach the way they used to. You're walking on egg shells as a coach now. You can't say a lot of things, people take it the wrong way. When they do something to motivate a player, if it's taking the wrong way by the player, they have to be walking on egg shells.

Justin (California)

What are the dolphins chances at getting Rolando McClain?

Mel Kiper
  (1:29 PM)

Rolando is going to be a mid first round choice, between 10-18. The top MLB in the draft. Real firey. Great leader. Smart football player. I think he's the kind of guy that gets hotter and hotter and his grade keeps improving in the draft. People used to push MLBs down a little bit. We've had times, even last year, James Laurinaitis dropped to the second round. Maualuga dropped. I think McClain becomes a hot guy and goes pretty early.

Shane (Los Angeles, CA)

MK: Give us your picks for this weekend before you leave! GO CARDS!

Mel Kiper
  (1:32 PM)

It's a hard week. I'm going with Dallas over Minnesota. Reluctantly -- I'll root like heck for my Ravens, I'd be surprised if they beat the Colts -- I'll pick the Colts. I'll take New Orleans. I don't like the way they played late in the year. Arizona comes in with all of the momentum, but I'm concerned about their defense. They couldn't stop anybody. Rodgers picked them apart. Had one of the best games you'll see a QB have in the playoffs. You have to take San Diego. They're red hot. The Jets won't have an answer for Rivers. Too many weapons. Revis can control one side, but he can't hold all of these weapons down. Too much talent for the Jets.

Dave (Ft Worth)

Mel, Since Ryan Mallett decided to stay for 2010, how do you see his draft potential for next year if he has another fantastic year at Arkansas?

Mel Kiper
  (1:34 PM)

He listened to the advice he was getting. Most of the people I talked to said he was being told to go back. He was not ready. He's a perfect fit for Petrino's offense. He looks the part, but his decision making needs to improve. There are times he's inaccurate with some throws. When you look at him, with a big year, he could battle with Jake Locker to be the No. 1 pick next year. They both made wise decisions in going back. Locker could still have gone high.

Kelly (Fort Worth)

Where do you see Jordan Shipley going, given his performance in the BCS Title game?

Mel Kiper
  (1:36 PM)

He made a lot of catches, but he also had some drops. There were some times when he didn't help out the young QB either. I thought Gilbert had a nice second half. He battled back and put the ball where his receivers needed it. Shipley had some drops. He'll be a very productive slot reciever. Some have compared him to Welker, but I don't see that. He's not as explosvie. I see him more of a Ricky Proehl. He also has some impressive return skills. He's made some big returns. He could be a 3-4 round pick.

John (Oakland)

With Best injury and his declaring for the draft where does he likely go?

Mel Kiper
  (1:38 PM)

I think Best is one of those guys with the way he played this year before his injury, he was electrifying. He's really not built to be a primary ball carrier, but you don't have a lot of teams that have just one back. He is kind of like Felix Jones. He can change the scoreboard from any point on the field. If you have a power guy like Barber, then you bring in a buy like Best. That's why Dallas brought in Felix Jones. If you have a power guy, then you take a guy like Best. I think he's probably late first.

John T (Eagan, MN)

Did you know that 1991 (Brett Favre) was the last time a quarterback was drafted in the 2nd through 5th rounds of the NFL draft who went on to play in the Super Bowl? Everyone since then was either a 1st rounder or 6th or later (or undrafted). The lesson I take from this is that either you know a guy is a franchise QB and draft him in the 1st, or else don't bother until the end of the draft and hope you strike gold. What do you think?

Mel Kiper
  (1:44 PM)

First round QBs in the NFL that are starting: 17. Interesting that in the playoffs this year, you had three that went late or undrafted - Warner, Romo, Brady. There's no easy way. Right now, the guys in the NFL that are middle guys that would be interesting that you have to keep an eye on - Matt Schaub, David Garrard, Chad Henne, Drew Brees. There is no solution to it. Hitting on a top echelon QB is not easy. The points well taken. There are some guys that teams hit lightning in the bottle on late in the draft.

DJ (Chicago)

Would guys like Vernon Gholston and Shawn Merriman be able to play DE in a 43 again? What would it take to take Vernon Gholston off of the Jets hands?

Mel Kiper
  (1:47 PM)

It would be hard. If Rex Ryan can't make you a player and find a way to make you productive and maximize you on the field, it's hard. 3-4 LBs can play from a down position. Players fit schemes and schemes fit players. You're going to see Gholston get chances. Teams like the Raiders always seem to give players chances. Before you leave the league, you end up a Raider. Former USC receiver Mike Williams ended up in Oakland and was a bust there. I wouldn't count on Gholston now all of a sudden having a great NFL career. I just want to see him playing.

Richard (Greensboro, NC)

Which players do you think hurt themselves the most by coming out early and not staying another year?

Mel Kiper
  (1:49 PM)

Jevan Snead clearly should have stayed in school. I see him at best as a 3-4 round pick. There is a lot of mixed opinion on Donovan Warren, CB, Michigan. I think he should have stayed. The only one that I was shocked by coming out was Snead.

Adam (Ocala, Fl)

Would the Bucs trade up for Suh or would they consider trading down to stockpile more picks?

Mel Kiper
  (1:51 PM)

You have to look at your needs in this draft. If you can get Eric Berry, that would be an impressive pick. I don't see a need to do that. If St. Louis thought they could get someone else, they could move off of No. 1. Chris Long did an outstanding job late in the year. He showed outstanding pass rush ability. He sets the tempo out there for the defense. I think he becomes a future pro bowler. Coverage is great in the NFL, but pass rush is tremendously important.

chauncey (teaneck)

what do the pats need to do this offseason?

Mel Kiper
  (1:55 PM)

Defensively, have to try and keep improving. Against the Ravens, they just looked disinterested. Something was missing. I kept watching this game and was thinking they'll turn it around. I don't know it's if they get smacked in the mouth early and they never responded. Brady didn't show any energy in the game. Moss was going half speed. Missing Welker's energy and his ability on the field was more than maybe they thought they would. The OL for the Patriots didn't get it done. I gave them too much credit. I thought they would scheme to take away Ray Rice. That's Bill Belichick's system - taking away your strength. Joe Flacco was 4-10 and they scored 33 points. Maybe I'm exaggerating by saying disinterested, but they had no answer. That football team needs a shot in the arm. They need another WR. Moss is a hall of famer, but there were games this year where he looked disinterested. The defense needs to keep improving. They have a lot of draft picks. They better make those draft picks count. They need an influx of attitude and talent. They are young, I will give them that, but they need someone to step up on the defensive side of the ball. For a playoff game, I saw no sense of urgency. That was one of the worst performances by a playoff favorite on their own home field that I've seen in a long long time. Frankly, they should be embarrassed by the performance.

Chris (Indiana)

The Bears have so many needs. With all the picks left in the Cutler trade, what are they left with on draft day?

Mel Kiper
  (1:57 PM)

They'll have to wait for the third round to pick. You've got to value draft picks. They had a lot of picks last year and they did OK. They found some players in the draft. They had nine players drafted last year and none came until the third round. They found two of the biggest steals in the draft - Johnny Knox, WR/KR; and Al Afalava, S. When you look at this football team, they need help on the offensive side and more help on the defensive side. But they're behind the eight ball a little bit.

Garrett (Richmond, VA)

Would it be better for the Packers to take a running back or lineman in the first round?

Mel Kiper
  (2:00 PM)

TJ Lang is a kid they like. He's a kid out of Eastern Michigan that they got in the fourth round. They had one of the best drafts of anyone last year. They had production from throughout their draft. They had two rookie LBs starting. If you look at this football team, they have the makings of a pretty good team. They have some good young defensive players and some good young offensive players. They could add another RB to help out Grant. But defensively, if they can continue to improve. This team is on its way. They were one play away from playing New Orleans. Next year, they'll get some of those injured defensive players back.

Mel Kiper
  (2:00 PM)

They'll be right in the thick of it next year.

Mel Kiper
  (2:02 PM)

Enjoy the NFL games this week. It should be outstanding action all around. The juniors will all have declared by Friday. Next week is a busy week for me - we'll have a more complete and refined Big Board, first round mock. On Friday, I'll be on TV with the juniors declaring, talking about them and projecting the top 10. We'll be back next Wednesday for the chat. We can talk team needs, first round projections, the AFC/NFC championships that weekend.