We've got Mel!
My second first round projection of the year is now up on ESPN.com. Cam Newton has risen to the top 5 overall, at No. 3 to the Bills. On to the questions!
Mel, absolutely love your work and just saw your latest mock. Assuming you are right and Mallet and Locker get out of the first round, where do they land in the 2nd? Any chance that Mallet is available for the 49ers?
Mallet for the 49ers? I'll say this, he'll probably be there. That could be the 49ers strategy. Jim Harbaugh will try to get a QB to develop. They could go for Peterson and then go for a QB in the second round. Dalton, Ponder, Mallet, Stanzi, Kaepernick. Guys like that. They'll have an interest in all of those guys.
Who is the top 5 overall best O-Linemen, reguardless postions (OT, OG, C) coming out this year.
As far as my ratings are concerned, Nate Solder, Tyron Smith, Anthony Castonzo, Gabe Carimi, Ben Ijalana.
The first OG drafted will be Danny Watkins. The first center drafted will be Mike Pouncey, who can also play guard. All five of those OTs listed I think will go in the first round.
Mel who are your top safety in this draft this year
Safety is a position where you have one potential first rounder in Rahim Moore from UCLA and a decent number of second round possibility: Sands, Keyte, McDaniel, Black. Of that group, you have several second rounders and Moore is a late first round possibility.
Mel...if Champ re-signs in Denver, Bowers or Fairley (whoever Rivera doesn't take) is automatic at #2, right?
Yes. Either one would look good in a Bronco uniform. They could use help on the DL, so either one would help. Their biggest needs are DL, CB, LB, S.
Mel, how far could the Bills trade down and still grab Cam Newton?
I would say, to be safe, to keep him away from San Francisco, they need to be no worse than 7. You could also see someone trade up to get Newton. Minnesota at 12 could try to move up. It's not going to take much financially to move up to get these guys any more.
If Browns are on the clock and Peterson, Quinn, and Dareus are available who would they grab?
The highest rated player of that group would be Peterson, but CB is not a big need. The guy I might look at there, who wasn't mentioned, is JJ Watt. Peterson is my highest rated player out of those, then Quinn and Dareus. I gave them Watt in my latest first round projection.
Who should the Lions draft?
They've done a great job. They've strung together a couple of nice drafts. Martin Mayhew has done a great job. I think what they will do is look at CB Jimmy Smith, OLB Akeem Ayers, OT Nate Solder. They could go in any one of those three directions.
Who's stock has shot up the most since the season ended? Watt?
Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal; Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado; Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple; Tandon Doss, WR, Indiana; DJ Williams, TE, Arkansas; Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor; JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin; Colin McCarthy, LB, Miami; Akeem Dent, LB, Georgia; Cortez Allen, CB, Citadel; James Carpenter, OT, Alabama; Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois; Delone Carter, RB, Syracuse; Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville.
Mel, what is the deepest position in this draft?
I think DL is the position that has a lot of depth. I have 12 DL projected in the first round. There's even depth after that. That first round projection didn't include players such as Drake Nevis, DT, LSU; Marvin Austin, DT, UNC; Stpehen Paea, DT, OSU; Christian Ballard, DE/DT, Iowa; Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor; Allen Bailey, DE/DT, Miami.
who should the saints take? perhaps a defensive lineman or linebacker.
I think they have to target a DE, DT, OT, OLB. Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple; Akeem Ayers, UCLA; or an OT. Those could be guys they target. The great thing about Ayers, he could be a 3-4 or 4-3 OLB. He's been exposed to both schemes.
Do you like Mallet in the first round? He stands in the pocket like a frozen otter pop, has the mobility of a dead corpse.
No, I don't think he's a first rounder. The team that you think could look at QB is Seattle at 25, but I have them taking Mike Pouncey. They'll be looking at a QB in the second round. San Francisco too. There's nothing wrong with being a second rounder. Brett Favre was a second rounder. Jimmy Clausen dropped. Boomer Esiason was a second rounder. You're off the radar there. You can sit, watch, learn and evolve.
Is this the year that we finally see ATL address their D-Line?
DE and OLB are two need areas. Certainly, I have them looking at Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue. But they could also look at Justin Houston, who could play OLB in a 3-4 or a 4-3 DE. If Adrian Clayburn is still there, they'd be fortunate.
Does Cecil Shorts from Mount Union have a legitimate shot of being drafted after the success of Garcon?
Yeah, I think he definitely does. He's an outstanding D-III prospect. He's 6-0, 194 pounds. He has good pass receiving skills. A lot of natural ability. He was a dominant D-III player. He did miss some games due to a turf toe injury, but I have him as a third round pick right now.
Mel, are there any FCS or non FBS prospects to keep an eye on come draft day?
Obviously, Shorts, who we just talked about. Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware; Ben Ijalana, OL, Villanova (a first rounder); David Mims, OT, Virginia Union; Will Rackley, OG, Lehigh; Martin Parker, DT, Richmond; Cortez Allen, CB, Citadel.
Do you see NE being aggressive and offering their 2 1sts for a top 5 pick for AJ Green? Can't imagine him falling past the Bengals, right?
I agree. You keep hear that New England could be aggressive. They have the two picks. I have Green going to Cincinnat at 4. If they stand pat, I have the Pats picking Torrey Smith at 28 and Cameron Jordan at 17. They need help. They could look at Justin Houston. I could see them looking at Ayers. It would make a lot of sense trying to get AJ Green. That would be bad for the rest of the league. Could you imagine Brady with AJ Green?
Possibility that WR Jordan White of Western Michigan gets drafted? Has great size and good production, although in the MAC , but has had injury problems in the past
The one thing about him that you have to like is he's productive. Greg Jennings came out of the program. This kid is no Jennings but he's been productive. If he can run in that 4.5 range, he could be a guy that garner some interest on Day 3.
Mel, where do you see Pat Devlin landing?
I think he's a Day 3 guy, round 4-7. I look at him, I like the way he works through progressions. I like that he can pick up first downs with his legs. He'll take some time, being a D-IAA guy. I could see him being a 5, 6, 7 round guy.
If Cam Heyward isn't able to perform at the combine how bad does it hurt his stock?
He had that elbow injury, which prevented him from going to the Senior Bowl. I think he has a chance to be a late first round pick. He had that outstanding game against Arkansas in the bowl game. I have him going to Pittsburgh at No. 31. He's 6-5, 290. Outstanding run stopping DE.
He's a borderline first round pick. He'll go between 30-50.
Where do you predict Ricky Stanzi to get drafted? How has he looked?
He could go second or third round. There is a little bit of buzz around him right now. He's experienced. He is battle tested. He dramatically improved his TD-INT ratio. He's 6-4 and has an excellent arm. Decent pocket awareness. He's in that tier of QBs with SF, Seattle, Tennessee if they pass on QB in the first round.
Who has the biggest chance of being a bust this year?
Cam Newton has a high risk, high reward. He has maybe the biggest upside in this draft and has the biggest risk. JJ Watt, because he's not going to be a great pass rusher. He's a blue collar, aggressive kid. I have Watt going No. 6, but he's only my 12th highest rated player. Patrick Peterson is not a tremendous cover CB right now. Blaine Gabbert, there will be some risk coming out of that offense. Julio Jones dropped some balls and has some durability issues. Nick Fairley, he's a one-year wonder and he didn't always play 100 MPH. There were some lulls in the action. Mike Pouncey is a versatile kid, but he's not his brother.
Do you think the Pats would have any interest in moving up for either of the top two CBs? DB depth was an issue last year.
I don't think so. They have such a need at OLB, WR, DE, RB. I don't think they have to. If they move up, it would be to get an AJ Green.
With the game won or lost in the trenches, wouldn't the Cowboys be better off taking a much needed offensive or defensive lineman with that first pick?
First of all, there's not an OL to take that high. That's No. 1. My highest rated OL comes in at 13. You can't take the 13th best player at No. 9. Prince Amukamara is a good choice there. Or Jimmy Smith. Or they could trade down and in the late first round get an Aaron Williams from Texas or Brandon Burton from Utah.
Who is your sleeper that will make the most immediate impact?
Ryan Williams, RB, VT could. He would be one guy of that type. Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami; DJ Williams, H-back, Arkansas.
Who is the best C/G that will be around when Oakland finally picks in the 2nd rd? I think they have the 48th pick.
Couple of guys that would outstanding: John Moffitt from Wisconsin; Rodney Hudson, Florida St.; Stephan Wisniewski. All three of those guys could play C/G in the NFL.
Hey Mel, I've heard some chatter about teams liking what they see out of this Kaepernick guy. Do you think he is capable of becoming a franchise QB?
No. I wouldn't say franchise. That's a lofty term for a kid that's not a pure passer. The ball comes off of his hand funny at times. His delivery needs to be tweaked. There is a lot to work with there. He's 6-5, 227. He runs a legit 4.5. He has a strong arm. Very competitive. The lack of pure passing skills is a concern. Competes hard. Elevated Nevada. I think someone could roll the dice with him in the second round. If I had to project right now, I'm thinking third, at worst fourth. He defines the term developmental QB.
Mel,What rookie QB do you think is the best fit for Shanny and the Redskins?
I think Blaine Gabbert would be the guy they look strongly at. I understand he's coming out of the Missouri offense and he'll need some coaching, but that's why Shanahan would be great for him. He'd be a possibility, a strong one, for the Redskins at 10.
is von miller worthy of the cards 5th pick?
Yeah, definitely. The Cardinals have a big need at OLB. He's a proven entity. He got off to a slow start this year with the ankle injury. In 2009, he had 17 sacks. The injury prevented him from the big stats this year. He has great technique. He is tough to block off the outside. He's just not that huge DE/OLB. He's 6-3 and 237.
Mel can you please give me a possibility other than Carimi for the Eagles?
He's the perfect RT. He'll be a guy that can come in as a rookie and start. If you don't go OT in the first round, then Jah Reed from UCF could be a guy they look at down the road. Aaron Williams at CB is a guy they could look at in the first round. Corey Liuget, DT.
Mel, where do you think Ponder will go? I've heard him going top 10 and I've heard 4th round
Ponder is a hard guy. He had that very good Senior Bowl. Tremendously intelligent. Good size. He's 6-2, 222. He has an average arm, though. Underrated athlete. He can beat you with his legs. I thought he'd remind me of Pennington, but he never got to that level of production in college. I would start thinking about him in the third round.
He didn't wow me over this year. I know he had some injuries, but I would say third round.
Re: Von Miller as a "not huge" OLB at 6-3, 237....the exact same measurements as LT...the NFL sure has changes in 20 years
Hang on one sec. I can get you exactly what LT was coming out of college....
How does aj green compare to dez Bryant?
I like AJ Green better. Bryant kind of paced himself. He didn't go out there and maximize his abilities. He had the four-game suspension. He was a highly acclaimed player in high school. He had great height. Very vertical. Great hands. He's my third highest rated player. I have him as my third highest rated player.
If you were to give a side by side evaluation of Suh vs Fairly, what are the differences?
Suh was productive and dominant for three years and Fairley was just the one year guy. Suh had a great career and Fairley had one season.
That's why Suh was my No. 1 player on the board. He was my highest rated player in the 2010 draft. He was a guy that completely took over game. He was a three-year starter and played as a reserve as a freshman.
Back to that LT question....
He was 6-2.5, 245 coming out. And he played around 250. So a little bigger.
You can get that whole first round projection up on ESPN.com right now. We'll be back next week to preview the combine.