Would you call me crazy if I would say that being a Panthers fan, Im glad that Luck went back to school knowing what I now know about Cam Newton?
I wouldn't say you're fortunate that Luck went back to school, because I'm giving him the highest grade I've given a QB since John Elway in 1983. Newton has the highest upside but also the highest risks. You have peaks and valleys in your career, and we'll see how he deals with all of that. Newton is ahead of where Luck would be next year. Luck will be one of the highest graded players at any position in years.
How far has Cliff Harris dropped on your board for his knucklehead behavior?
He came in with a solid grade as a junior -- a lot of other very talented junior CBs. I still have him at No. 5, but his arrow is pointing down with the off-field concerns. He hasn't played much, and he's going to have to get it together. He was a dynamic player last year, and his stock is dropping. When he straightens himself out off the field and gets back on the field, he'll be where he was last year. You want to go into the draft with momentum, and he's got none so far.
The jury's still out on Tebow isn't it? If he wasn't playing the Dolphins there's no way that comeback happens.
I tweeted after the game that the Dolphins and Tebow combined to beat Miami. It was just a case where they were playing soft and letting him do his thing. He gets it to 15-7, they recover the onside kick, and Tebow is drawing tremendous criticism if they lose that game. They played bad offensive football for 56 minutes. I give him credit, making plays with his legs even when he was throwing badly. I think the place for him in the NFL is as an H-back. Denver has to make a decision what they're doing next year after Tebow's audition this year. If he does prove himself, they'll bypass the QBs in the draft, but if not, he'll have to make a decision.
He'll have to throw the ball in the NFL, and he'll have to do it when teams are not playing soft on the pass. He was doing nothing through the air until they did that. He had his head down and started to run as soon as he got any pressure. His accuracy was bad, his arm strength was very average, his decision-making is not great. His pocket awareness was good, but not to throw, only to run. He's thinking run first, pass second. Right now run is his first resort.
The only time when he thought pass-first is when he had to, when they were down 15-0 with four minutes to go. Only time I saw him with his head up in the pocket actually thinking about throwing. When he was forced to, the mindset may be changing, and maybe he can carry it over.
Who was the last skill position player that you gave as high a grade as Luck?
Probably like Deion Sanders, if you count CB/return man as a skill position.
Where do you see Trent Richardson going? Do you see a chance for a team like the browns to pick him up?
He's my third-highest rated player on the Big Board. We don't predict where players can go with it. I wouldn't take a running back in the first round because you can find them in any round. We grade on ability, not where they should go. I understand running backs have been devalued and that it's a passing league, but on ability, Richardson is the third-best player in this draft.
Who are you favorite players coming out of the Big Sky (FCS) Conference?
Renard Williams, defensive tackle from Eastern Washington. Trumane Johnson, senior CB from Montana. JC Oram, OG from Weber State. And let's go with Matt Johnson, safety from Eastern Washington.
Mel, How does Justin Blackmon compare to last years early draft picks AJ Green & Julio Jones? Would they rank Green, Blackmon, Jones?
He doesn't have the grade that they had, slightly below those two. Green had a 9.4, Jones a 9.3. Blackmon would be a 9.2, right in that area, right below them. He could very easily go in that general area, just because it's different every year.
Does Janoris Jenkins deserve 1st Round consideration given his priors? What NFL teams historically take chances on guys with "character issues"?
The Bengals have been a team that has picked up players with issues, the Raiders historically as well. The Ravens drafted Jimmy Smith last year, who had some concerns. Jenkins has played well at North Alabama this year. He's got the return skills. Right now he's No. 21 on the big board, the second-highest rated QB, behind Clayborn from LSU (8th-highest rated player on the board). Jenkins is their third-leading tackler, one interception, 22.8 yards per punt return with two for touchdowns. As a kick returner, 23.5 per return. It's a lower level of competition -- Division II, not 1A. He was a heck of a player at Florida, though.
What do you think of David DeCastro? Where can he improve his game and will he be the first interior lineman off the board?
He'd be battling Cordy Glenn, a LT at Georgia who will be a guard in the NFL probably. They would be your top-rated guards. DeCastro is a heck of a player. 6'5", 312 pounds, fundamentally sound and very smart, doesn't make any mistakes. Very technical player, does a great job in a balanced offense coming out of Stanford. Remember Steve Hutchinson, first rounder out of Michigan? I think DeCastro and Glenn could be that kind of player.
Thoughts on Stanford's Chase Thomas?
I just moved him up a little bit this week. He's my second-highest rated OLB from the junior class. He's right now the guy who is the main difference-maker for this defense. He's been productive and ideally suited for how they used him. He can chase, play sideline to sideline, and he's the main entity on that defense right now.
I have heard several times that IF Sammy Watkins could be elligible for the draft he would go in the 1st round this year. Is this true? And if this is true should Clemson fans worry about him leaving as a Sophomore? Thanks
You can't leave as a sophomore, so don't worry about it! Third-year sophomore or true juniors can leave. I don't agree with them -- I think kids should be able to go whenever they want, but they have rules in place that say you have to be there three full years. He'll be eligible in the 2014 draft. He is definitely in my top 10 to 15 if I had to put him in THIS draft group. He's that good.
Has LaMichael James's draft stock been hurt by the injuries? Can you give me a pro player comp for him - Harvin?
More like a Jones-Drew, although smaller. He's shown versatility and has been helped by that fact. He's also a guy who has proven he can carry the workload. He's a strong, tough kid. He was a one-dimensional player, but this year he's showed that he can do many things. Caught 11 passes out of the backfield, averaged 19.3 yards a punt return. That wasn't the case up until this year. The injuries come with the territory, but he's averaging nine yards a carry. Going into this year, he had added 10-15 pounds to his frame going into this year, and had show improvement as a receiver. Huge heart, plays with great desire. The biggest situations, he has breakaway speed. A little big man, is what he is.
Hi Mel, tell me a little about Marvin McNutt. In some regards he seems like he could be a Greg Jennings type player some day. Granted Jennings was pretty unknown before Ted found him I sure like the way McNutt plays the game. And that's coming from a Wisconsin fan.
He's the kind of guy you look at who is still gaining experience. His route running is improvement. Great size, good hands, a very intriguing player. As far as where he will be in the 40, probably 4'5" or so. He has excellent size, 6'2" and over 215 pounds, top seven or eight in the senior WR class. 41 catches, 18.5 yard average and 8 touchdowns. James Vanden Berg has done a good job there taking over from Ricky Stanzi and getting McNutt the football. He's still developing as he was a QB until two years ago.
Any guys from either BYU or Utah going to be high draft picks? Maybe 1st day guys?
No first-rounders, but OT Matt Reynolds from BYU will be in the early round discussion. Tony Bergstrom, OT from Utah, has a chance to be a mid-rounder.
Mel, what are your thoughts on Mike Martin from Michgan?
For his production, he's amazing. 6'2", 295-300 and has put on some weight. Solid, consistent, reliable player. Best on a bad defense. Very quick, uses his hands extremely well. Former high school wrestler so it helps him. He can help a team in the NFL...he'll have to fit the right scheme, but he'll go in the early to mid rounds.
Where do you have Konz rated as for centers? Is he a 1st round pick?
Only a junior, so I'm a little less enthusiastic. He's the No. 1 junior center and top overall in the country. Nick Mangold, the Pounceys, and Alex Mack were first round picks, so if you are a top-rated player, you have a chance. Big, strong kid with good mobility. They pull him a lot. First center to come off the board, but he's only a junior.
Hi Mel. Is there any buzz around Silas Redd? He's putting up some pretty good numbers for PSU and looks like the real deal. What do you think is his ceiling?
They just keep winning games, and when you look at Silas Redd, he's only a sophomore but has been an impact guy. He's one of their key components coming into the year. He's their leading rusher, averaging 5.3 a carry with six touchdowns. He's almost 700 yards ahead of their next rusher. Eight catches out of the backfield, so he's a minimal receiving threat. The next few games will tell us a lot about Penn State -- Northwestern, Purdue, Temple, Eastern Michigan, Indiana State. They have Illinois, Nebraska, at Ohio State, and at Wisconsin coming up. For all these Penn State players, they have four nice evaluation coming up. Devon Still and Gerald Hodges have played very well for them on the defensive side. Hodges is their leading tackler by far, and Still has their most tackles for losses by far.
What are the weakest positions in the 2012 Draft class? Seems like SS and TE, your thoughts...
Tight end could actually be pretty good if the juniors come out. Dwayne Allen from Clemson and Orson Charles from Georgia could be very good. The senior class could be very impressive. For safeties, same thing. Ray-Ray Armstrong, Bacari Rambo, etc. The juniors dictate the strength of the draft at all positions. Just from the seniors, tight end is very average, as is ILB, but strong from the junior class.