Welcome to the New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday!
Hey Mel, are you still bullish on Matthew Stafford's future? I think he bounces back next year from an up and down season this year.
No reason not to be. He's got everything you want to be a franchise QB. You can't do what you want unless you catch the ball and he didn't have all of his weapons at his disposal. They had basically Calvin Johnson and that's it. Too many injuries at WR. And they need to get better defense. They gave up too many points, over 30 points in give games in the second half of the season.
Best coverage OLB's draft-eligible?
Khaseem Greene from Rutgers. Senior. He's in the mold of Derrick Brooks.
Did Aaron Murray help himself with is MVP performance at the Capital One Bowl? Do you think he should declare for the draft?
He is a junior. I don't know what his decision will be. I would say go back for another year. He didn't have the great WR corps this year. No AJ Green. No Charles. He got some big plays yesterday. He's not that tall, he lacks ideal height. He struggled in some big games. Yesterday, they were 9.5 point favorite in that game. Nebraska's defense has been horrible all year. They had to rally and he made some nice throws. I think he needs another year. My attitude is if you're not a first round pick you should go back.
Should Clowney play another snap of college football? He runs the risk of being injured on every play. If he were to sit out the 2013 season, would he still be the #1 pick?
He has to. He's not eligible for the draft. He can not go into the draft. He has to play another year. Unfortunately. I don't agree with that rule. If you're able to go out of high school, you should be able to. You can go work at a business right out of high school and no one tells you you can't. He would have been the clear cut No. 1 pick in the draft this year. Had he come out after his freshman year, last year, he would have been in the top 5, guaranteed.
Now that Alec Ogletree has announced his intentions, where do you see him going in the draft and possibly to which team?
He could be in the top 10. He plays the ILB spot. He's tall, rangy, versatile. Very good cover guy. Former safety. He could be a ILB or OLB in the right scheme. I think he goes in the top 10.
aside from barkley and smith, do you see any other qb's with late 1st grades
Definitely Mike Glennon. He could be the first QB drafted. I could see him skyrocketing up the draft board. He's 6-5, powerful arm and he's a smart kid. He could be in the top 15 overall. He had more dropped passes.
Ryan Nassib, Syracuse; Sean Renfree, Duke. Both of their stocks are rising.
Tyler Wilson from Arkansas, don't sleep on him.
He could be in the second round discussion.
Mel, have you ever seen worse QB play then what was witnessed between Logan Thomas and Gary Nova in the Russell Athletic Bowl?
That was definitely an ugly game. Logan Thomas has been one of the major disappointments in college football this year. He started with a top 5 grade and didn't make it back to the top 25. He looked like a former TE playing QB. Now, he didn't get a lot of help, but he needs another year. If he comes out this year, he has first round physical ability, but he played like a fifth rounder.
So, do you still have USC in your 2013 preseason top 5?
No. First of all, Max Whittick, the offense couldn't produce any points. Georgia Tech's defense was horrible all year. Lee is a nice WR. Redd is a nice RB. They have to figure out the QB position. They didn't play with any energy. They did not have a signature win all year. They lost two games with Barkley, two with Whittick. They were the biggest disappointments in college football, by far this year. It's mindboggling. There is no way that team should have lost like that to Georgia Tech.
I'm sure the Vikings will be looking to replace Jasper Brinkley this offseason. Who will be the top 4-3 MLBs available in the draft?
Minnesota has some needs. They could go WR, which is the biggest need. They need a WR desperately to help out Ponder and Harvin. Manti Te'o is the best 4-3 MLB. The top WR in the draft is Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee is the best junior WR and Terrance Williams, Baylor is the best senior.
Mel, we could all see Andrew Luck's skills years before he arrived in the NFL. We also know of the depressed nature of this year's QB class. Are there any underclassman QBs that you can see taking the NFL by storm? Happy New Year!!
In terms of the draft eligible guys, you want to see how they continue to evolve. Teddy Bridgewater, he's a sophomore. We'll see him tonight against Florida. Braxton Miller, Ohio State, we want to track him. Jeff Driscall. Brett Hundley. Blake Bell, Oklahoma, he takes over for Landry Jones.
What's your take on Tyler Bray?
He has a lot of ability throwing the football. He has a lot of talent. He has the size, the height to see the field. The big thing with him is he has to be better with decision making. Limiting some of the mistakes and be better and accurate with throws. He has to become more consistent and he has a chance to be a starting QB. I would like to see him go back to Tennessee for another year.
Does USC poor performance hurt Redd?
Everybody is evaluated individually, so you're not hurt by team performance, but some of those guys needed to play better. TJ McDonald's stock slipped. A lot of them are young kids still. Marqise Lee is only a sophomore. Like Clowney, if he were in the draft, he'd be a top guy, probably top 10.
Who takes a chance on Marcus Lattimore? And, what round?
The medical will tell the story on that at the combine. That will be the defining moment. He had the two injuries at South Carolina. You hope he comes back and gets back to where he was. If the tests come back positive, he could be in the 2-3 round discussion.
Chip Kelly in the NFL - flourish or flop?
Nobody knows that. Personnel dictates whether you are successful or flop. I'm all about personnel over coaching. The knowledge of the game is similar with the coaches, it's about who can motivate and lead. All of that factors in. In this league you have to have a QB. If the QB you draft doesn't show early, you have to move on. It's not 1985 where you can wait 5 years for a QB. There is no fooling around. You have to admit a mistake and move on. Jacksonville has to decide that with Blaine Gabbert. Jake Locker. Kevin Kolb. Ryan Fitzpatrick. KC. Weeden. Freeman. Jets. All of those QBs and teams face questions.
Nick Foles in Philadelphia.
Should the Raiders take Te'o if he is still available at 3?
He's a good fit for anybody who needs a LB. But the Raiders also need help at a variety of other positions. He'd be an outstanding addition to the Chiefs, Raiders and a lot of others. But you need to see if the other need areas supercede that. They need a pass rusher.
Thoughts on Alfred Morris this year? Did anyone expect this from him? Any running backs coming out this year that remind you of him?
At 5-10, 220 he's got a good frame. My last comments on him was: "productive, hard nosed, determined runner. Maximizes the yardage gain on each carry. Good body lean. Decent hands. Solid blocker. Would make sense in the late rounds." His 35-inch vertical was the same of LaMichael James. Doug Martin had a 36 vertical. As a senior, he averaged 5 yards per carry, nearly 6 per carry against Auburn.
I say it every year - you can find running backs anywhere in the draft. You can get immediate return on RBs. A sixth round back can come in and play as well as a six-year veteran. Mike Shanahan has a history of doing it. It's the third time he's hit big time on a late round RB.
Who are some offensive line players that might be available when the Bears are on the clock?
That's a big need for them. They have to draft OL. Eric Fisher, Central Michigan is a guy to think about at that point. He's the second best LT in the draft. Luke Joeckel, TAMU, is the best LT and will go in the top 5. Lewan is the third best.
What player does Duke's Conner Vernon Most remind you of? And what team do you think could use someone like Conner Vernon?
I love slot WRs like Vernon. He will always be compared to Wes Welker and Amendola. He has phenomenal hands. Strong, deceptively fast. He's the all time leading WR in Duke history. Fearless. Good route runner. He has been phenomenal. He's one of the key reasons they got to their first bowl game since 1994. He could be a 3-4 rounder.
Did Denver get it right by drafting Demaryius Thomas over Dez Bryant?
Did they get it right? Yeah. Everything's turned out well with Denver and Thomas. He's made some big catches, even for Tim Tebow. 22nd pick was Thomas and the 24th pick was Bryant. Thomas is a quality player. A big target. Mismatch in coverage. He and Eric Decker have done a heckuva job. They use the TEs very effectively. Bryant should have been a top 10 pick on ability. He dropped because the intangibles were lacking.
That reminds me of when Kevin Dyson was drafted ahead of Randy Moss in 1998. Moss should have been in the top 5 based on ability. He dropped to 21.
Would Clowney's draft stock for 2014 drop if he decided to go to the CFL to make $$ next yr instead of college?
That's not going to happen. He's going to play college football. There's something called a degree here. He's still going to class. He's getting an education. It's not all about football. The bottom line is he's in college. He's moving toward a degree, even if he leaves early.
Who is the better overall DE...Bjoern Werner or Damontre Moore? If both are available when Cleveland is up at the 6th pick, who do they pick?
I have Moore slightly ahead of Werner right now. I give the edge to Moore. He's very explosive. He tailed off late in the year, but he was getting a lot of attention. He can play down. He has scheme versatility. He's a DeMarcus Ware type guy.
Bears need o-line help first then maybe urlacher's replacement. Any inside linebackers to keep an eye on in early rounds?
In the early rounds, the guys in the 2-3 rounds are Kevin Reddick, UNC; Bostic, Florida; Kevin Mentor, LSU; Max Bullough.
Hi Mel, For the Jets, what's a bigger need, an offensive weapon or a pass rusher?
They have a lot of starters on this team that are free agents. In this league, Hill has to continue to progress. Pass rusher is critical. But QB supercedes everything. They have to get a QB. If it's not Mark Sanchez, Tebow is going to be gone, McIlroy is not the answer. Figure that out then you look at everything else.
Mel what position is the biggest of need for Cincy next year?
I would say for them, they don't have a critical need. Everybody thought the need would be for a pass rusher, but Michael Johnson really emerged. Burfict led them as an undrafted free agent. The front seven really solidified. They could address the OL. They could look RB at some point.
You mentioned Brett Hundley earlier. He surprises me every time I watch UCLA play. He looks like he moves in slow motion, but he seems to have really good pocket presence. What's his upside?
Physically, he has exactly what you're looking for. He's a big kid. He has ability throwing the football. He did not throw a lot of passes in high school. He's still raw. He's developing. He's a big, strong runner. He's finishing his redshirt freshman season. Mobile, athletic. He has a chance to become a guy that's intriguing.
What direction do the Panthers go this year? Seems like every year it's D-line help. Thanks Mel!!
DT is the thing. We keep saying it and they haven't addressed it early. They won a lot of games down the stretch, so they're not in the top 10 mix. They'll be looking at maybe John Jenkins, Johnathan Hankins, somebody like that. Sharrif Floyd. Kawann Short, Purdue; Sylvester Williamson, UNC; Jesse Williams, Alabama. Star Loutulelei, Utah, I think could be the top DT drafted. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri, I think could be right up there too.
Will Sutton from Arizona State had a great year for the Sun Devils.
Mel, what are your thoughts on Marquise Goodwin and his draft prospects? Thanks
He's a kid who can fly. He is 5-9, 180, but he will run a 4.3 40. He will be one of the fastest players in the draft. He's one of the most explosive players in the country. Strong, compact frame. Good hands for a speed guy. He could be a guy, after he runs, someone will look at him in the early to mid rounds.
Who do you think will be the first player drafted from Vanderbilt?
They're a good football team and a heckuva defense. They lost some key guys. They lost a lot of production on defense. Heyward was a key loss. But they still played exceptional football. Jordan Matthews, junior, WR, 6-3, 205. Keep an eye on him. Zac Stacy, RB. 210 pounds, quick. He's been a dominant RB in the SEC. He'll be a nice addition to a football team. Andre Hal, junior, CB. Great athlete. Trey Wilson, senior CB, another guy who has very good ball skills.
YOu spoke about Hundley, what about Mariota from Oregon?
He's still very young, but he's showed a lot of promise to win that job. Once he won the job, he was outstanding. He's got speed. You want to see him develop more touch. He's got the arm. He's got the speed. He's a young kid. He's a redshirt freshman this year. He's got some developing to do.
Because of the kick return rule changes, does that affect special teams player selection in the draft?
It's still factoring in. Chris Rainey had a nice year returning kicks for the Steelers. David Wilson with the Giants. I thought he was the best rookie kick returner. There's opportunity for kick returns. It's not as big as it was, but it's a factor.
What do the chiefs do at qb? do they reach for a smith or glennon with with first pick or wait till round 2 and take best available?
That's the thing. Where they're picking, you're not going to take a QB No. 1. Do they trade down? You need a partner. Do you go after a Vick or Alex Smith? If you do trade down, then I think Mike Glennon is the one you're looking at. If you look into the second round, then it's Barkley or Geno Smith.
I think Glennon goes in the top 10-15. There is a lot to like about him. He's 6-5. He's smart. He played in a subpar offense, with more dropped passes in his offense than any other top QB in the draft.
Where would you rank Ray Lewis in all time LBs now that he is hanging it up?
Unbeliveable. When you think about how long Jonathan Ogden has been gone...they were drafted in the same year and Ogden is now eligible for the hall of fame. Lewis is one of those once in a lifetime players. He was such an inspirational leaders. He's amazing what he meant to that team. Dick Butkus. Mike Singletary. Lewis is going to be the best Raven in their history, by far. An obvious hall of famer. Look at all of the defensive coordinators that he's helped get a job: Rex Ryan, Chuck Pagano, Marvin Lewis.
We have the BCS title game on Monday and next Wednesday, we'll be a week away from our first First Round projection!