Mel, what do you think of LaMichael James' NFL draft prospects if he were to decide to leave early this year? Is he a first-round talent in this year's draft? And If he were to come back to Oregon, what does he need to work on to improve his position?
He's a third year sophomore. Second highest rated RB that is draft eligible behind Ingram. Great quickness and power for his size. His main thing right now is staying healthy so he can prove his durability. He has to show he can be more than a situational performer at the next level. He only has 8 receptions this year out of the backfield so that is something to watch. At the pro level he will need to be more of a factor in the passing game. He will also need to factor into the return game which he hasn't done in college. But he is a big time talent.
Mel, Is Ryan Williams from VT still considered a top 5 draft eligible RB? Do you think he comes out this year and ends up being drafted in the first 2 rounds? Thanks.
He is my fourth highest right now. It would be in his best interest to go back for another year. He had a nice game the other night but has had some injury issues. Another year would be beneficial to maximize his rating. He is not as highly rated as when the season began. He needs to put together a great season which he hasn't do thus far.
Is it safe to say that the Vikings and the Broncos are kicking themselves for passing on Colt McCoy?
A lot of teams passed on Colt McCoy. Even the Browns. They could have taken him earlier but he ended up falling into their laps at the 85th pick. They took Hardesty, even traded up to get him, before they took McCoy. They rolled the dice that he would drop. I thought he would be a second round pick. Buffalo could have used him. The Bills could have had him in the second or third round but took two defensive linemen. To their credit, Fitzpatrick has settled in and done a nice job. Once Denver took Tebow they were not looking for a QB.
Hey Mel, what are the chances Bilal Powell gets some serious looks from NFL? He is quietly one of the best backs this yr. thanks
He's got a late-round grade.
Stanford Quarterback Andrew Luck seems to be the favorite to be selected first overall, do you agree with this?
Depends on who is picking No. 1. Buffalo is winless and has a quarterback who has done a nice job. Would they take Luck? I don't know. If you look at the draft board A.J. Green is my No. 2, Patrick Peterson No. 3, Da'Quan Bowers No. 4 and Prince Amukamara No. 5. Luck vs. Fitzpatrick is a good debate as to what they should do. How Fitzpatrick plays in the second half could sway that decision.
Has Maurkice Pouncey exceeded expectations with his quick transition? How far, if at all, has his twin, Mike, fallen? He's be a great fit again along side Maurkice.
He was projected to go to Pittsburgh and was graded out as the 18th best player. The last comment I made on him was "you won't find many centers with the skill level and overall approach he brings to the position." He graded out higher than Alex Mack and Nick Mangold. He had a chance to be one heck of a player. This team has had its share of great centers. And head coaches!
Mike is not as talented or highly regarded but remains my No. 1 center. He also plays guard and that versatility will help him.
Where do you have LSU DT Drake Nevis rated? With his size, will he be a great pro or just average?
He is the 17th highest rated player on the big board. I highlighted him in personnel points in my Monday column for ESPN.com on Sept. 6 after his great start to the season against North Carolina. He is the third highest rated defensive tackle.
I caught your comment comparing the BCS to fantasy football on the radio Sat.Thank you for putting the whole joke into perspective.Do you think the "Super Confrence"way the NCAA is turning to will help lead to a playoff in the next 5-7 years?
I don't think we need a super conference. I think we could have a viable playoff scenario right now. We just need the hierarchy of college football to get it going. As long as we don't have a playoff we have these fantasy football like discussion. We're trying to decide who is better by how they played different teams, strength of schedule, etc. It's like trying to connect the dots. Then we pull in things that happened in previous years. Teams evolve over the season so how a team performed months ago isn't that important. Teams have ups and downs and is never the same in the last week as they were in the first but we judge them like they are. The system stinks. We talk about who is best a lot but we don't settle it on the field.
With all the commotion in Auburn do you see Cam Newton entering the draft? Where would you rate him?
It certainly could have an impact on his decision. You don't want to have a Marvin Austin scenario. If he figures he goes back and then all of a sudden he is declared ineligible, that's unfortunate. He has to look at that. If he thinks that possibility is there to miss games, of course it could change his thought process.
What is the latest on Florida States QB Christian Ponder?
Ponder has had some injury issues. His arm strength is decent but not great. A couple games he looked like a second round pick and others he looked like a fifth or sixth round guy. His stock has not risen the way I think it could have.
Mel, where would Justin Blackmon be rated among WR's if he were draft eligible? Is he right behind Green & Jones??
He is draft eligible. He could be in this draft if he so chooses. He would be right in there. I'm reluctant to project third year sophomores but he would be right in there after Green and Jones as the third best. Probably mid-first round. They were a different team when he was not on the field. They only scored 24 points which was their lowest point total by far. They scored 41 against Nebraska the week before and then 24 the game he misses. He comes back and they score 55. He is a key player for sure.
Did Patrick Peterson help/hurt/no change his stock after the game vs Bama and Julio Jones?
He had a solid game. Not perfect but solid. That's the life of a CB. Jones had 6 catches and a TD. But only 51 receiving yards. Six game on a short pass and Peterson had no chance to make the play. He is 6'1 220 lbs. He could stand to lose a little weight. Most of the big former CBs were in the high 190s range for weight. Receivers are lightning quick. He needs to at least get down to 210-212 range. He is an excellent tackler.
Do you think some underclassmen may decide to stay in school if there is a strong indication of an NFL lockout?
That's still to be determined. We don't know enough about the situation although I have heard some positive commentary lately. The prospects will have to keep an extremely close eye on this.
Remember, they only have until mid-January to make the decision about going into the draft. I'm not sure how much we will know by then.
Does Cam Newton have the arm strength, decision making, and mechanics to be a QB on the next level?
The arm strength yes. Accuracy at times is a little off. He's not super precise but he throws a nice ball. Mechanically he is pretty sound. His footwork and pocket awareness is somewhat of a question because we haven't seen a lot of it. His size is great. There will be a learning curve coming from Auburn to the NFL. He would be a developmental QB that needs time to settle in.
Who do you have ranked as the best pass rushing linebacker?
I'd have to say right now it would be Justin Houston from Georgia. Von Miller from Texas A&M. Dontay Moch from Nevada. In that order.
Who are your top rated offensive tackles and how high do you think they will get drafted?
This is an ongoing battle ... Nate Solder from Colorado is the guy right now but there are 5 bunched together ... Derek Sherrod from Miss St., Gabe Carimi from Wisconsin, Anthony Canstonzo from BC and Ben Ijalana from Villanova. They are all ranked within nine spots of each other between 18 and 28 on my Big Board.
I'm not sure that it's fair to hold LaMichael's low # of receptions against him. That's entirely a product of the system he plays in. When he *has* been thrown to, I think he's shown very soft hands.
Yeah, he has done well. I'm not questioning him really, I just would like to see more. He's only 5'8 or 5'9 and runs extremely hard between the tackles. The question is when you run with that kind of power, you have to wonder if he can hold up. And someone with that home run ability should be more of a factor in the return game. Catching the ball out of the backfield is hugely important in the NFL. I'm not saying he can't do those things, he just needs to prove he can.
Mel, how does Adrian Clayborn of Iowa rank on your Big Board (assuming he's there)? How do you see him faring in the NFL?
He's right around No. 11 right now.
Tyrod Taylor is underrated.. people wrote him off after the JMU loss but he has quietly been easily the best QB in the ACC this season.
He has tremendous mobility and a strong arm. He was never written off in my mind. James Madison is a good football team. Big letdown after that game for sure but since then they have been outstanding and Taylor has been red hot. He will get some looks for sure. He doesn't have ideal height but he is tall enough and has a nice arm.
Newton and Pryor in that Vince Young mold? Who is/will be a better PRO between em all???
Newton is a better pro prospect than Pryor. Newton will be a QB but Pryor will probably end up at TE.
Pennington is replacing Henne this week according to Tony Sporano. What are your thoughts? Good decision?
Three INTs for Henne last weekend. I was at the game. That impacted their ability to move the point and let the Ravens sieze control of the game. The offense looked flat. They have not scored more than 23 points all year. They've scored 15, 14, 23, 14, 23, 22, 22, and 10. They are at 4-4. Pennington is a tremendously cerebral QB and a great leader. He will try to jumpstart this offense and he has some good weapons to do that with.
The biggest problem with Henne even in college was inconsistency. He has thrown more INTs than TDs this year. He has limited mobility.
Buffalo with Fitzpatrick has scored 26 or more points in three games.
Do you still believe in Jimmy Clausen, a year later?
Yes. No reason not to. People will look at how poorly he has played but rookie QBs develop at different rates. He is on a bad team with a coach who probably won't be there next year and is decimated with injuries. He has struggled just like the whole team has. If you liked him coming out, you should still like him. Nothing has changed.
Look back at how John Elway played his rookie year. Don't be too quick to judge.
Mel, in your opinion how much do the negatives of Brett Favre (interceptions and fumbles) outweigh his positives? Do you feel they may be better off with Tarvaris Jackson at QB? Thanks!
Tough tough situation in Minnesota. Everything that could go right last year did and everything that could wrong this year has. If they hadn't won last weekend, it would be a different story right now. But this is still a division that could be had. The Packers are a beat up team. The Bears can't block anyone. Minnesota should be running away with this division but they aren't. They have winnable games coming up. Hopefully they can build on the Arizona win. This weekend is absolutely huge. We'll know a lot about this team after this week.
Someone earlier asked about return men ... Patrick Peterson from LSU ... Randall Cobb at Kentucky ... Jerrel Jernigan from Troy ... Niles Paul from Nebraska ... Ronald Johnson from USC ... Jeremy Kerley from TCU ... those are my main return guys right now. But there are many this season.Thanks for the great questions! Interesting slate of games this weekend. We'll be back next week! First Thursday night NFL game this week! Patriots and Steelers Sunday night! Lots of marquee games at night this week.