Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

September 5, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Mel Kiper

Mel Kiper
  (1:00 PM)

It's great to have the NFL back tonight. We had an exciting week of college last week. There are some changes on the Big Board today. On to the questions.

Michael H. (Memphis )

What do you think about Dee Milliner from Alabama? He look impressive last week vs Michigan.

Mel Kiper
  (1:01 PM)

Good football player. This is his year to shine in that secondary. He's arguably their best defensive player right now. Nick Saban has been a big fan of his. He's a guy that knows the game, understands the game. I think he has a chance to be in the late first round mix. He's 23 on my Big Board. He's only a junior.

Danny C (NY)

Do you think Stephen Hill can be a formidable #2 WR for the Jets this season or do you think he will struggle this season with drops?

Mel Kiper
  (1:02 PM)

Possibly. He needs to work on some things. He's still very raw. He came out of a run oriented offense. He has to work on route consistency. He needs polish. He has to refine some parts of his game. He's not yet there. He's one of those down the road type guys.

Derek (NJ)

By signing Carr and drafting Claiborne, would you consider the Cowboys secondary a strength now?

Mel Kiper
  (1:03 PM)

A strength? We'll see. You're still talking about a rookie CB and a veteran CB who had a nice start to his career in KC. It's got a chance to be. Carr, Claiborne, now they have depth at CB, which is important in this league. The strength is Ware and the CBs on this defense.

Knish (NYC)

How does next season crop of WRs look for the draft?

Mel Kiper
  (1:06 PM)

There is no AJ Green right now. Julio Jones right now. The guy who could be is the junior WR at Tennessee, Justin Hunter. He got out of the blocks with a solid effort. He has Jones type potential. He's coming off of the injury list, an ACL in the third game. He'll get better as the year goes along. They'd like him to add some weight. He gets great separation. Hunter is the guy who has the chance to be elite. By the end of the year, he could be top 5 on the Big Board. Right now he's No. 9. Woods is also up there. Cordarrelle Patterson from Tennessee. He's a junior college transfer. Marquess Wilson is a nice player. A very interesting slot guy is Austin from West Virginia. Dobson from Marshall. And then you have Denard Robinson, he'll be a WR/return man in the NFL. There is some depth at WR. There will be 3-4 first rounders.

Cory (Geneva, IL)

Is Stephon Tuitt a first round player?

Mel Kiper
  (1:07 PM)

He's still very young. That's what you're looking at for him, the development process. He's 6-6, 303. Gifted player. He's a guy you'd normally look at and think he could be starting at LSU or Alabama. He's from Georgia. Strong, quick. He has a chance to be a great player, but he's only a sophomore.

Ryan (GA)

Are the Atlanta Falcons a legitimate Super Bowl contender?

Mel Kiper
  (1:10 PM)

They're in the mix. They're in the discussion. I didn't pick them, some have. Bill Polian has them in the Super Bowl, playing the Ravens. This is a team that has to, first of all, learn how to win a playoff game. They haven't been able to kick the door in in the playoffs. They have the weapons at WR. The run game is solid. When you look at it on paper, if everything falls right, they'll win that division most likely. They need a pass rusher to step up to go with Abraham. I went with the Packers to get to the Super Bowl. The Falcons haven't won in the playoffs, but they lost to Arizona with Kurt Warner, who went on to the Super Bowl. Then they lost to the Packers and the Giants, who both went on to win the Super Bowl. It's not like they're losing to just any team. Maybe this is the year, but I just think the Packers are a little bit better.

Brett (CA)

Who you taking...niners/packers?

Mel Kiper
  (1:12 PM)

I'm going to go with the Packers. The one thing you have to think about with how this league is set up, you can't worry about the regular season. And you especially can't worry about the first game. The main thing in the NFL is getting into the tournament. It doesn't matter if you're 9-7 or 15-1. If you can start playing your best football around Christmas, you might be better off.

devan (louisiana)

do you think the saints can win the nfc south despite suspensions because of their explosive offense?

Mel Kiper
  (1:13 PM)

Any time in this league that you have an explosive offense you can win in this league. But I think the distractions, the players are effected by that. They don't have Sean Payton. Carolina will be a team to watch all year. The Saints will be in the mix for a wild card. I don't think you can dismiss the issues and snap your fingers and think they'll be the same team.

Nathan (Denver)

Which rookie do you see having the biggest impact this season?

Mel Kiper
  (1:15 PM)

Obviously, Luck and Griffin will have big impacts. Justin Blackmon with Jacksonville. Luke Kuechly in Carolina. Ingram and Chandler Jones will have an impact with their teams. Doug Martin in Tampa Bay. Bobby Massie with Arizona, the starting RT.

Keenan (Atlanta, GA)

Where do you project Knile Davis to be drafted if he stays healthy in 2012 and is productive as expected for Arkansas?

Mel Kiper
  (1:17 PM)

If he stays healthy. That's the thing. If he stays healthy, he can be in the second round discussion. He hits the hole. He has tremendous work ethic. He's strong. In 2010, he led the SEC in rushing. He averaged almost 150 yards rushing in the last 7 games. Last year he had the ankle issues.

Ben (Charlotte)

what kind of year are you expecting from Percy Harvin?

Mel Kiper
  (1:18 PM)

He has an awful lot of ability. You hope he can stay healthy. That Christian Ponder can step up as a second year QB. Peterson is coming off the injury. You hope others can step it up around Harvin. He's an exciting guy if he's out there for 16 games.

Larry (VA)

How are the Orioles winning with such a poor run differential?

Mel Kiper
  (1:20 PM)

I'm hoping! I've been a fan my whole life. This team hasn't been over .500 since 1997. On Sept. 5 and they're tied for first with the all mighty Yankees. I made a prediction before the season on the Dari and Mel show that they wouldn't finish in last. Buck Showalter and Davey Johnson are the two coaches of the year this year. The last successful teams the Orioles had, Johnson was the manager. The schedule is easier for the Yankees in September. I hope they can at least hang on and make the wild card. To say the Orioles are in a pennant race in September is remarkable.

Mel Kiper
  (1:20 PM)

I don't care what happens, they deserve credit for what they've done this year.

Mel (Barber Shop)

Which NFL defense will begin to show their advanced age: Ravens, Steelers or Bears? I

Mel Kiper
  (1:23 PM)

I'd say if I look at it right now, the Ravens, because they don't have Suggs. But they have done a nice job of finding young players who have stepped up and done a nice job for them. You have to give the Ravens front office a lot of credit. It's not the defense they once had, it can't be without Suggs there. You need guys like Arthur Jones stepping up. Albert McClellan. Upshaw. Kruger. They have to get solid years out of them. They feel that their seocndary could be as deep and as good as anybody. The key will be keeping Ed Reed healthy.

Kevin (PA)

How many years will it take Reggie McKenzie to rebuild the Oakland organization?

Mel Kiper
  (1:24 PM)

It depends on how they draft. How you handle the personnel evaluations in free agency and the draft determine a lot. San Diego, this is a make or break year. Oakland is a team, if they can keep McFadden healthy, that can be dangerous. To get to where they can win the division, it shouldn't take more than a year or two, if you handle the personnel correctly.

CJ (NYC)

In your list of impact rookies, you didn't mention David Wilson - what can Giants' fans expect from Wilson this season and going forward?

Mel Kiper
  (1:25 PM)

He will have a lot of speed. A lot of outside speed. It's like he's shot out of the cannon. He's a good player. He was good at VT. You don't have to hold your block long for him. He'll make the OL look a little better. He has gamebreaking ability. For the Giants, I think the they'll win a lot of football games this year. They could be 14-2, 13-3.

Aggie (TX)

What is the strength of the senior class coming out?

Mel Kiper
  (1:27 PM)

You have to include the juniors and seniors together. There are only 7 seniors on my Big Board....but just talking about the seniors, the OL, DL have some very good players.

Shane H (TX)

Do you think Buffalo has a playoff chance this year? Does the drought end?

Mel Kiper
  (1:28 PM)

I picked them to go to the playoffs as a wild card. Them and the Steelers as the wild cards. The first game against the Jets is important to set the tone. They need to start out well. I think they're a team that can get to 9-7, 10-6.

Gary (Chicago)

What kind of impact do you expect Ashlon Jeffrey to make with Cutler?

Mel Kiper
  (1:29 PM)

He's got the size. He has the strong hands. He's the red zone threat. He has the big body. He won't get the separation, but he's in the Brandon Marshall mold. This was a guy projected to be a top 15 pick when the season began last year, they got him at 45. That's a nice value pick for the Bears. He never had great QB play at South Carolina either.

Gus (FL)

Mel, big things were expected out of Lance Kendricks in STL last season. Then Sam Bradford went down and the Rams passing game never got into a rythm. Is Kendricks a difference maker at TE this season?

Mel Kiper
  (1:31 PM)

He's a good pass catching TE. That's his forte. The big thing for them is to keep Bradford upright. The OL is really on the spot this year, to protect better. They don't have the WR so they need the TEs to do the job. Bradford doesn't have the supporting cast. Offensively, he's up against it. He has Steven Jackson, but there are questions about who will be open to catch the ball. They don't have the star power at WR in a passing league. They have to strengthen that area of the football teams. They have some raw guys that are still learning. Kendricks is one of those guys that needs to step up.

Tyler (North Adams) [via mobile]

Do you think any of the Notre Dame freshman or sophomores have the potential to be great in the NFL?

Mel Kiper
  (1:34 PM)

Of the guys that are coming along, you have Eifert, an outstanding pass catching TE. He'll be in that late first round discussion. Manti Te'o is the top guy. Tuitt is a young guy, arguably the most gifted player on the team. He'll be a first round caliber player. Junior LT Zack Martin. Louis Nix is a defensive tackle, third year sophomore. He shows some promise. George Atkinson at RB is another one.

Derrin (Plano, TX)

Do you see any starters in the Oklahoma secondary being high draft picks?

Mel Kiper
  (1:36 PM)

Yeah, I do. Tony Jefferson, the junior FS is a guy that has a pretty high grade. He's my second highest rated junior safety. Hurst, the senior CB has a third round grade. Aaron Colvin, junior CB has a chance to be a mid round guy. They have three guys who will play in the NFL.

Jeff (NYC)

Alabama's pro style defense exposed Denard Robinson's weaknesses as a QB. Do you think he has any chance to be drafted at the next level as a potential return man/wildcat offense type of player?

Mel Kiper
  (1:38 PM)

He reminds you of an Antwaan Randle-El type. He was a QB only and then went to the Senior Bowl and caught some punts. I've said all along that he won't be a QB in the NFL. He's only 5-11, 6-0 tall. But he has quick feet. He'll be evaluated as a return man. He's a projection and he'll have to prove he can catch the football.

Chris (Fresno)

Do you think at some point that Alex Smith will be benched in favor of Kaepernick? Or will that wait until next season? It just seems like Kaep makes the offense much more dangerous, which I know leads to more INTs.

Mel Kiper
  (1:39 PM)

I wouldn't go there yet. Alex Smith had a very good year last year. They have a very good defense. They don't need a lot of flash from their QB. Kaepernick has a lot more flash. Smith showed last year when they needed him to make a play, he did. I can't predict how he'll play this year, but right now he's the leader of this team.

Keenan (Atlanta, GA)

How does this year's LSU defensive line stack up against great units of the past? Will all 4 players be taken in the first round? Does Anthony Johnson emerge as a superstar in the SEC this season?

Mel Kiper
  (1:40 PM)

I don't know about the first round. Mingo and Montgomery are 3 and 4 on my Big Board right now. They're certainly guys you'd say are first rounders. After those two, where do you project Logan? Johnson and other young guys are in the mix.

Nickuru (Raleigh)

Mel, to what extent do you think Mario Williams has recovered from his injury? The Bills might have overspent ona guy who is still injured. What is your take on this?

Mel Kiper
  (1:42 PM)

I don't know about that. He's shown flashes of dominating ability in the preseason. This Buffalo defense needs a huge year for him. If they get into the playoffs and he has a good year, it will be worth it. I can't forsee that. Football is a game of injuries and you have to play through some nicks.

Dave (Boston)

Should we be worried about the Pats' lack of offence in the pre-season? Can they put it together the way they are built on that side of the ball?

Mel Kiper
  (1:44 PM)

I just worry about the OL. Brady isn't a mobile QB and he's getting up in age. He's not a guy that will escape. If there is a red flag area, it will be the OL. Fortunately for them, their schedule is not that difficult. They open up with Tennessee and Arizona and Baltimore without Suggs. They get Houston at home. San Francisco at home. Both late in the year when it's cold. They should be able to waltz to, despite the OL issues, 12-4, 13-3 records.

Jason (Wilmington)

I am excited about the addition of Fletcher Cox for the Eagles, but is Mychal Kendricks the bigger impact player?

Mel Kiper
  (1:45 PM)

Kendricks is a gifted football player. The job he did at Cal is remarkable. You combine his numbers on the field with his physical prowess. He's fast, strong, athletic. He's just a guy who brings it every play. He can deliver a heckuva blow.

Ken (Anaheim)

Mel, How many RBs do you see being drafted in the first round in this coming year. Thanks

Mel Kiper
  (1:46 PM)

In the first round, I'd say....2. Marcus Lattimore and Le'Veon Bell form Michigan State are the two I'd project.

Mel Kiper
  (1:46 PM)

A decent group of backs for the 2-4 rounds.

Bob (Portland)

How awesome did Marquess Lee look on Saturday. I don't think I have seen a faster 100yard kickoff return. Can he be a Green, Jones, Johnson type WR?

Mel Kiper
  (1:48 PM)

Lee is lightning fast. He's a better prospect than Robert Woods and I have him No. 20 on the Big Board. This guy is an amazing athlete. He's got great ball skills. You can see the basketball background when he's on the field. How good can he be? He's got great practice habits. This guy loves to practice. He doesn't fit the diva WR stereotype. He's only a sophomore. If he were draft eligible, he'd be in my top 5 probably. He'll qualify for the 2014 draft.

John (Wisconsin)

Where does Montee Ball rank?

Mel Kiper
  (1:50 PM)

He's got a solid grade. Right now, he's the No. 1 senior RB. Graham and Michaels are coming off of injuries so if they come back to form, they'll challenge Ball. With Ball, he'll be challenged to catch the ball more out of the backfield. He had the concussion back in August. He has excellent vision. The OL has some new faces and they're trying to gain some cohesion up front.

Mel Kiper
  (1:51 PM)

Ball will be used out of the backfield more this year. Danny O'Brien will look for him more. The OL has to do a better job moving forward.

Mel Kiper
  (1:51 PM)

Ball will be used out of the backfield more this year. Danny O'Brien will look for him more. The OL has to do a better job moving forward.

Andre (LA)

Does George Uko step up for Lane Kiffin this year and become a dominant interior linemen reminiscent of Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson who played during the Pete Carroll era?

Mel Kiper
  (1:53 PM)

Yeah, because that was a big loss for them. Kenard was lost for the season with a torn pectoral while lifting weights. They restructured their whole OL. Uko has a chance. He has to be a real clogger along the interior. They lost Nick Perry too. This team starts four sophomores on defense. He's 6-2, 290. He has to be a force to make up for those losses.

Jeff (Prairie du Chien, Wi)

Mel, Whats you thoughts on Danny O'Brien QB at Wisconsin playing in the NFL?Thanks, Jeff

Mel Kiper
  (1:56 PM)

The unfortunate thing is there is no way he can be as good as Russell Wilson was. He has the ability to make the throws that you need to make. His accuracy needs to improve just a bit. They'll have to move the pocket a little bit. They have three new starters on the OL. You don't have Nick Toon at WR. He can't be as good. He won't put up the numbers that Wilson did. They won 11 games but still lost 3. They have a tough game against Nebraska. Michigan State. I think they lose 3 regular season games, maybe 4.

Mel Kiper
  (1:57 PM)

They have the same kicker and punter the last four years and now have two new guys!

Mel Kiper
  (1:58 PM)

Enjoy the game tonight. I think there are a dozen college games that are an interesting matchups. It will be a phenomenal weekend of football. Enjoy football from Wednesday through Monday!