We've got Mel!
Who do you think has the best chance of being the biggest defensive and offensive impact players this year coming out of the draft?
The biggest impact offensive player in this draft, I think could be AJ Green, WR from Georgia. The biggest impact defensive player is Von Miller.
I usually go with a RB, so I think a guy that could have a nice impact is Jordan Todman from UConn. He brings speed and versatility.
Being a Panthers fan lately has been rough. Do I have anything to look forward to for them this year?
There is some talent on this team. They had injuries last year. They had young players forced into some key roles. They had a coach in John Fox that people knew was only going to be there for the year. They lost some tough games and they could have gained some confidence early. They had opportunities early on and could have been 2-2 after four games. What they have to do now is use this draft process properly.
They'll get some key players back. I think Jimmy Clausen will be a much better player next year, after coming off that injury. He was still coming back from that injury, the two torn ligaments in his toe the previous year. They could be an improved football team next year.
who do you predict the falcon will take in the first round?
I think a DE, to take some of the pass rush off of Abraham to always be the sack guy. They need another explosive guy like Adrian Clayburn would be a guy to look at. They are a team that could also look at a WR. Titus Young from Boise State, maybe. They need some explosive players. Too many long drives and not enough quick strikes.
It seems that no free agency right now would make draft planning incredibly hard for teams because they don't know which holes they'll be able to plug with F.A.'s. How are teams changing their draft plans? e.g. try to fill all their holes through draft? collect more picks?
Teams know which players they would like to have back and not like to have back. They know who their free agents will end up being. For the draft, your needs aren't changing between now and the draft. Teams will have an idea internally what they're doing with their players that are free agents. They have to go back to the best available player. Football has always been a game of injuries and there were a bunch of GMs in the 70s and 80s who did just take the best available. You can't compromise your draft board by needs. You spend all the time rating players for a reason. Say the need guy is ranked 20 and the guy you have as the 10th best player is there, you take him. You can never have enough CBs, WRs, OL, DL. Unless you have a great RB or two, or QB or two, you won't take another one.
What direction do you think the Bears will go in the first 3 rounds? If there are no good OL prospects in the first will they go DL? I know its not like them but would they possibly trade up?
I think OL. They need to help Cutler at OT. If Nate Solder slid down. Sherrod. Those would be some guys to think about.
They could go DT, maybe CB. But the OL is the biggest area of concern for the Bears.
Mel, if Cameron Jordan isn't available, who are some other names you could see the Chargers taking?
Muhammad Wilkerson, 3-4 DE from Temple. Gabe Carimi, OT.
Mel, where could you see the Browns going with there first pick? I am really hoping Patrick Peterson falls to us, and we can beef up at D-Line and Wideout in the 2nd and 3rd round
The bigges thing for the Browns is WR and DE. AJ Green. Robert Quinn. Bowers would have been a great fit, but there is a concern with the knee injury. Some of my sources in the NFL think he could drop into the 10-12 area. They also need a DT. CB.
Do any of the QB's projected to be available at pick 48 on scream classic Raiders' QB? Do you see any fits for Oakland at that position?
You have to think about Hue Jackson. It's his offense. What he likes to do, it's more West Coast style. With Al Davis and the old Raiders, it's the vertical passing game. But they don't have a lot of consistent WRs. That's their issue. In the old days, it would be Ryan Mallet. He would be the perfect QB for that style. Now, you think more of a Dalton or Ponder.
Deepest position in this year's draft?
DL overall. There are a lot of good DL in this draft. The DL without question is the deepest position. And I also think the QB position is pretty deep. It's the craziest group of QBs that I've evaluated this year. Newton came out of nowhere. Luck decided to go back when he would have been the No. 1 pick. The former No. 1 pick in Jake Locker, his stock fell dramatically. Ryan Mallet's stock fell from where it was. Dalton rises up. Then there's mixed opinion on the guys after that. McElroy. Kaepernick. Gabbert emerges as a guy that could go top 5. Weird year, but interesting year at QB.
There is some depth at WR in this draft. There are a lot of C/OG types.
Do you think Quinn would mesh well with Orakpo on the Skins?
Definitely. That's what you're looking for if you're the Skins. First, they need a NT. They're 3-4 and they need a NT. And a 3-4 DE. Right there you have two big issues on the DL. Outside of Trent Williams, the OL is a total mess. Then you think about WR. Santana Moss is off a big year, but they need a big, physical presence opposite Moss. They need a QB. Still to be determined is McNabb's status. You have Grossman, who's a stop-gap only. They could go Tyron Smith, OT from USC. They could take Quinn. They could take Aldon Smith. JJ Watt. Julio Jones. There are a ton of areas they can go. They have needs all over the place.
They're in a division where Dallas will be much improved. Rob Ryan is a great addition to their defense. The Eagles will always be solid, with Vick. And you have the Giants, who are a pretty good football team.
Mel, Will one of the top 5 DE be there for Tampa at #20? If not, please tell me they will go to another position, possibly OT? Thanks
I think Tampa, at 20, will be looking to go after Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue; Justin Houston, DE, Georgia, who I think's a little overrated; Brooks Reid, Arizona; Adrian Clayborn, Iowa. The elite guys won't be there. I think Bowers will drop a little bit, but not where they're picking.
Which round could you see the Colts targeting secondary help?Thanks
I would say fairly early. That's an area of concern for them. The OL is a big area of concern. When you have your franchinse in Manning out there, you need to protect him. They have DT issues. The secondary is questionable. They also have to be thinking about a QB at some point. It's about time that they have to start thinking about an early round QB.
Lifelong fan Mel. Quick question: How do you see the inability to move future picks affecting this draft? Will teams make under the table deals? Like, say, for Carson palmer?
You can trade future draft picks. The correct way to term it is you can trade at your own risk. You don't know how the rookie wage scale will look. You don't know what the draft system will be. You just can't trade veteran players. It provides another option. You can trade next year's picks, just at your own risk.
Mel, what is the Rams biggest need, WR or DE? If Julio Jones unavailable, can you see them taking Wilkinson or is that too high for him?
WR is one of their bigget needs, but not DE. they have Hall and Long at DE. Long came on last year. The bigger need is DT. They need a DT to put next to Fred Robbins. He had a great year. They have big questions at OLB. They could use a safety. They could use an OG. There is talk that they could take another RB to work in with Jackson to have a 1-2 punch. Their biggest need is WR. They need a star. They need an elite receiver. We know Green is going to be gone. Jones could be there, but if he's gone, then you might look at Mark Ingram, Corey Leguit, Wilkerson. They could fit with the Rams.
Mel, if Amukamara slips to #10, do you take him if you are the skins? I know that CB isn't the #1 need, but I think they are harder to find in free agency.
If he's there at 10, I think it will be an interesting possibility. A team that might move up there is Detroit. If Amukamara gets past Dallas, then I think Detroit could move up to get him. Washington has so many needs and they don't have the early round picks because of trades, so I would try to move down a little bit.
How much of a chance does Tyron Smith have of being a bust? Where does he compare with last years OTs?
He is a gifted athlete. He can really move. He has great agility, quickness. He plays light on his feet. He's got his weight up to about 307. He played RT at USC. Being able to play LT and having him stand in there and stand up to the big pass rushers, I think he potentially can. As a RT he did a good job, but as a LT, he has to show that he can. He has to show he can maintain that weight and that he can go up against the best DEs on every play. You can't have any lapses in concentration. Ability wise, he has the ability. He just needs to prove he can do it mentally.
With the rookie cap in place, do you see more trading at the top of the 1st round. In recent years, the cost of signing a top 10 guy combined with the cost of draft picks to move up seemed to dissuade teams from moving up too far. I think the rookie scale will make the top picks even more valuable and hope to see more trading as a result. What do you think?
Last year, we had no trades in the top 10. The first one happened at 11. In '09, we had the one trade with the Jets moving up to get Sanchez. But outside of that, that was the only trade in the top 17. In '08, we didn't have one until pick 7. In 2007, no trade until 14. In 2006, no trade until 11. There has been little movement at the top. Tons of movement happens between 11-30, particularly in that 15-21 range. I think that's where it could change this year with movement in the first few picks.
If Blaine Gabbert and/or Cam Newton slide to the Cardinals at number 5 how much interest would teams like Tennessee, Minnessota, Washington, etc have in trading up to pick one of them? Would any of them be willing to part with a 1 & 2 to do so?
I think they could try to, but Arizona, their dream scenario would be for Gabbert to be there at 5. They have the two young QBs, Skelton and Hall, neither of whom are surefire guys. Gabbert seems to be the guy that they look at.
Arizona is in a division right now that has Sam Bradford, Jim Harbaugh as a coach, Pete Carroll as a coach. You know Harbaugh is going to get a QB and he's going to win. Carroll showed what he can do in getting Seattle to the playoffs. Arizona can't lag behind. Life after Warner wasn't that great. They need to find a QB. This was a joke of a division, but that's changing. If they want to stay out of the cellar, they need to get a QB.
Any lb's worth taking in the 1st rd. for the Giants?
They are a 4-3 team. Akeem Ayers, the workout at the combine negatively effected his draft position. Good football player, just didn't have a good workout. But outside of that, no. There are a lot of 3-4 OLB types, but the 3-4 types, no. There are OLB they'll look at: Homan, Bruce Carter, Foster, Lawrence Wilson, Sturdivant.
As an Aggie alum, interested to see what round Davon House ends up in? Is he a guaranteed 2nd round pick at this point?
I think he's a third. I like him. I've liked him all along. We've mentioned him in this chat before. He's got good size. Good athlete. He's been a very experience starter since his second year. Lacked a little consistency, but I think he's a third round pick. I think he goes on Day 2, but I'm thinking more third than second.
Hello Mel. Thank you for taking my question. Is Akeem Ayers a safe pick for the Jets at 30? I'm hearing rumors that he may not be such a great prospect? Cheers
Rex likes pass rushers. He's more of a strong side LB. His versatility is what stands out to you. He excells against the run. He made some big plays in some areas. He has good diagnostic ability. He's just not a feared pass rusher. That's why I don't think that the Jets will jump at him. I think KC could look at him.
Whick QB will contribute the most from Day 1 in a WCO?
Probably Andy Dalton, for the West Coast Offense. He can throw on the run and he's accurate. You need to be mobile and be accurate when youre in the West Coast.
What player has had the greatest rise in the past two weeks? Great fall?
Good question. I'd say, Corey Liuget. People really love his tape. That's what teams are doing now. They have day long meetings watching tape. The eye in the sky never lies. Mike Pouncey has been rising. Tyron Smith. For a 5-6 round guy, Kris Durham, WR, Georgia. He ran great at his pro day. He wasn't even invited to the combine. Ran a lot faster than people thought. 6-2, 210. He could go as high as the 4th round. David Mims, OT, Virginia Union. He's 6-8, 340.
Who's a better fit at 3-4 NT for the Jets, Stephen Paea or Phil Taylor?
Knowing what the Jets want to do and what Rex wants to do, I would say Paea. He gets into the backfield. He's a penetrating NT. He would be a guy that they look at. He almost did 50 reps at the combine. This guy gives you a lot of scheme flexibility. Against USC in late November, he had 6 tackles and 2.5 were behind the line. He's quick, strong and plays hard.
It seems as if Greg Romeus will have to be drafted on potential more than anything given his senior season. What's the highest and lowest you can see him going and do you see him being able to play a significant role as a rookie?
I think the highest I could see him going is the 3-4 rounds. He has great height, almost 6-5. He has been a great pass rusher during his career. I don't think he'll be an elite rusher in the NFL, but he'll bat down some passes.
Is it safe to say the Dolphins will only have a great draft if they can slide back in the first and pick up a second? Plus what do you see in store for the QB position? or even better question who do you see for the QB position draft or free agency wise? Thanks
No, I don't think that's the only way. What they have to come out of this draft with is a RB at some point. They need a C and a OG. A fast WR. Defensively, I think they'll go with what they have there. Mike Nolan is a good DC. They have to hope that Koa Misi gives them a better pass rush. And they have to figure out the QB position. Chad Henne has to improve his accuracy. I don't think drafting a QB is the way to go. Go out and get a veteran QB. If you draft a rookie, he's not going to help you.
Mike Pouncey, Mark Ingram. If you got someone like that, you're helping Chad Henne get better.
Which kickers or punters might get drafted?
There is one placekicker. The kid out of Nebraska, Alex Henery. Strong leg. Deadly accurate. He has range up to 57 yards. He would be the one kicker in the 5-6 range. Ryan Donahue, Iowa is one punter that might get drafted.
Is it time for the Bills to give up on Aaron Maybin?
I don't think it's time to give up on him yet, but he's the reason they need a OLB so bad. He's a guy that you expected to get a big impact out of. They drafted him in 2009. So, he's only had 2 seasons. They drafted him ahead of some good football players, ahead of Orakpo, Cushing. He needs to step up. The reason they need Von Miller it's because of Maybin not developing. He's only been in the league two years.
They took a flier on Merriman, a former standout veteran.
We'll be back next Wednesday. This time next week we'll be in April. We're counting it down. We're going to press on my draft report on Monday. I'll have a new projection out on ESPN.com next week. A lot of exciting dialogue up ahead. The weather hopefully changing. That's the only sense of normalcy in the NFL.