Do you project AJ McCarron as a starter in the NFL or as primarily a career backup?
He'll be drafted to be a starter. His arm strength is something that he'll show at the Senior Bowl practices. He has the work ethic. He has been the best clutch performer over his years in college. The arm strength will improve with some QBs once they get into the league. I think he'll be a second round pick and be drafted to be a starter.
How will Max Bullough's Rose Bowl suspension play into the evaluation process for the draft?
You have to investigate what the actual reason was for the suspension. He's been a multiple year captain. He has great blood lines. When you go back and talk to everybody at the university, he drew raves about his character. He's been an intelligent kid. The question for him will be speed. What he runs on the clock, that's important in the pass happy NFL. He's been an outstanding leader, so you hope this is just a blip.
Which class is going to be deeper for the 2014 draft - OT or CB? Can the Steelers ignore LT with their 1st pick in the mid-teens and go with Mike Adams/Kelvin Beachum? The secondary may have only one player return in Cortez Allen, so CB is an immediate need, too.
I'd say OT. That's contingent on the underclassmen. We already have Scherff going back to Iowa. How many more decide to go back? But there is some depth at OT. Ja'Wuan James, Tennessee; James Hurst, UNC; Morgan Moses, Virginia. The CB spot is solid as well. That will all depend too on how many of the underclassmen come out. Both positions have quality. There are some safeties that could rate at CB too, which boosts the CB class. Guys like LaMarcus Joyner, FSU; Exum, VT; Marqueston Huff, Wyoming. It could end up becoming a push. Both positions are good.
Mel, what does Carr's poor bowl game performance against USC do to his draft stock?
It certainly didn't help it. You can't overreact to one game. The problem with Carr is he didn't have many games over his career against good opponents. But you have to be careful, because the quality of opponent with USC, they just manhandled Fresno State. It doesn't help. It's a red flag, and it raises some questions. Now, Senior Bowl Week is paramount. He has to have a good week. I think he's a late first rounder, maybe second round pick. I didn't have him as high as some others.
What 4-3 DE's do you so making the switch to 3-4 OLB's? It seems like more and more NFL teams have switched to the odd man front as fewer and fewer colleges play it.
Michael Sam, Missouri; Marcus Smith, Louisville; Randy Gregory, Nebraska -- he's a third-year sophomore who could use another year at Nebraska. Trent Murphy, Stanford; Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech; Morgan Breslin, USC; Trevor Reilly, Utah; Vic Beasley, Clemson. Those are some of those guys.
Happy Holidays Mel - Seattle has had great success with late round picks developing into major contributors - do they look at things other teams do not when it comes to scouting and evaluating players?
They've had a good track record. Pete Carroll's collegiate experience and his familiarity with the kids in high school has helped. His widespread knowledge of the game has helped. Pete has an eye for projecting. He's made DL and made them OL. He's shifted personnel around. That comes from his collegiate experience. I think a lot has come from Pete Carroll. Chip Kelly also did a nice job in his first draft. That's really helped them.
Before and after his injury, where did you project Zach Mettenberger in the draft?
He was projected to be an early second rounder prior to the injury. Now he's more probably a third round pick.
Free agency, to me, seems like a losing proposition in the 4 major sports - especially football. Why don't more teams put their faith in acquring more draft picks rather than wasting the time and money to sign free agents who usually are past there prime?
I think a lot of them do. I think they are emphasizing drafts. They're reluctant to give up draft picks. The Redskins made that big move to get RG III and so far it hasn't panned out. Teams have benefitted from bringing in veteran free agents. The 49ers did that with Boldin. They're a Super Bowl contender after bringing him in. San Diego picked up Danny Woodhead. That was a great addition to their offense. Chicago got Bushrod at LT.
The majority of the teams are building through the draft.
Melvin Gordon is coming back for another year at Wisconsin. Good move by him? Where did you project him going this year and how much could he move up by staying another year?
Great move by him. With James White moving on to the NFL, it will be Gordon and Clement in the backfield. I think it's a good choice. He's only a third-year sophomore. He'll be the main guy now. Behind that OL, with the way Wisconsin runs the ball, he could be the main RB going into the 2015 NFL draft. He wouldn't have been the first RB taken this year.
Do u think Manziel falls to the vikings with the 8th pick or will he go in the top 5?
A lot of that will be contingent on how many underclassmen come out early. How many of these teams picking high pass on a QB? There are a lot of them that need a QB, five in the top 10. How many teams feel a need to move up to get one? You can make an argument that Manziel is the top QB in this draft. If you're not a Manziel guy, you could make the argument that he's No. 3 or 4. I think he's the second best QB in the draft. So, could he be there? Yeah, he could. I think he'd be great for Minnesota. He could remind us of Sir Fran Tarkenton. You're in a division with three top level QBs. You need a QB.
More talented secondary, Florida or FSU?
I'm a big LaMarcus Joyner fan. I think he's the best DB of anybody at either of those schools. He's kind of like a Tyran Mathieu, and we saw what kind of year he had. But Florida has good CBs. I'm just a big believer that Joyner's going to be a big time player in the NFL, so I give the edge to FSU.
Which WR would fit best with the Jets- watkins, evans or lee?
We'll have to see about the coaching staff with the Jets first. Is Rex back? If there are monumental changes, we'll have to see. My top WRs are: Watkins, Clemson; Marqise Lee, USC; Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt; Kelvin Benjamin, FSU; Mike Evans, TAMU; Brandin Cooks, Oregon State.
Some of the Auburn seniors on the defensive side, like Dee Ford and Chris Davis... Do you see them as NFL talent?
Yeah. Ford had an excellent year rushing the passer. I think he could be a 3-4 round pick. Davis had a great year as a returner. He's going to the Senior Bowl. He's the guy to watch, and he has the skills to be a factor at CB. He's on the rise. I give Ford a lot of credit. He stepped it up and was one of the best pass rushers in the country this year. The key for Auburn for next year are two young OL: Robinson and Dismukes. Do they stay for next season? Then does Tre Mason come back? If they all come back, that will be an incredible offense again.
Who is better - Cameron Jordan or Jordan Cameron?
Good question. Cameron Jordan came out as a highly regarded player and he's done well for Ryan. When Jordan Cameron came out of USC, he wasn't as highly regarded, but he's established himself as a good pass catching option. He and Josh Gordon should give Browns fans some excitement about the future of their passing game. The problem there is they need a QB to get them the ball.
Hey Mel, where would you rank IU WRs Corey Lattimer and Kofe Hughes in this years WR draft class?
They both have a lot of talent. Lattimer I would give the edge to. He, physically, has what it takes to compete in the NFL. He's big, strong, good hands. Hughes is a senior, Lattimer is a junior, so he still has a decision to make. Hughes has good size. I don't think he'll be as physically and athletically talented as Lattimer. Lattimer would be intriguing if he came out.
Where can Stephen Morris elevate himself to with a good senior bowl performance?
I think he could get to the third round discussion. We didn't see the best of him this year because he was banged up and they had injuries at WR, which impacted him. Overall, just a lot of injuries on offense this year. That's why you saw some throws that were off target and not accurate. For Morris, you have to go back to last year to see him play at 100%. His Senior Bowl week will be key. He could be off the radar because of the subpar year. But when you factor in that he wasn't 100 percent and didn't have players around him.
Mel, who has the best hands of the top 10 or so draft-eligible WRs this year?
Watkins and Lee have good hands. They're the top rated WRs because they catch a ton of balls. Guys that we haven't discussed who have very good hands are Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt. He had some concentration drops, not because of his hands. Abbrederis. Ryan Grant. Greene, FSU.
Mel - EJ Manuel and Geno Smith have both had up and down seasons (Geno especially). In a potential QB heavy draft does it make sense for either team to draft another QB at some point?
I don't think Buffalo will, because I think Manuel showed enough. Their skill talent at WR needs to be upgraded. Goodwin and Woods contributed, but Manuel with another year and offseason to improve, I think they move forward with him. With Geno Smith, I don't know for sure. It could depend on the coaching situation. Plus he's not a first round pick, so they don't have a huge monetary investment there. Smith's been wildly inconsistent. Now, he doesn't have a great supporting cast either. The Jets might be more and more inclined to think about a QB than Buffalo.
Do you see Teddy Bridgewater having success in his rookie year? Also, where do you think is the best fit for him out of the possible destinations?
We don't know for sure if he's coming out this year. Miami and Louisville, you'll be able to see Bridgewater and Morris go head to head in their bowl game Saturday. Bridgewater set himself up for a good grade based on his bowl game against Florida last year. But he didn't "Wow" me over this year. I think he needs another year. Can he be a big time QB right away? That might be asking too much. I think he needs another year.
Mel..is Dallas now forced to draft a qb to groom?
I think they should. They drafted Stephen McGee several years ago. I think they could look at QB. Kyle Orton is strictly a veteran backup. It would be interesting if they went back to Eastern Illinois and got Jimmy Garropolo. I think he's drafted in the 4-5 area. If he drops to a 5-6 round area, the Cowboys could take him. There are a lot of draftable QBs in the draft this year. I think you'll see 14 senior QBs drafted this year and maybe a total of 20 total being drafted. That means, you're going to have some undrafted QBs that have ability.
Mel, What are some SS, FS prospects that should be available in the 3-4 RD?
Good question. Marqueston Huff, Wyoming; Darwin Cook, WVU; Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois; Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt; Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State.
Detroit will most likely have a new coach next season, draft philosophy will probably change...what do they focus on in the next draft?
We'll have to see about the GM. If he remains in place, then he understands the personnel base. Does the offensive system change? The defense? They know they have a quality QB in Stafford. He had some drops, but that was due to being an undisciplined football team on offense and defense. Calvin Johnson wasn't 100 percent. Nate Burleson got hurt. Everything that could go wrong did. They were just mistake prone. I don't know what they'll do with the coach, but there is a big question there due to their collapse late in the year, one where Chicago didn't have their QB for a stretch and Green Bay didn't have their QB for a long time and you can't take control of the division? And the Bears defense had a catastrophic injury to Melton. That actually hurt more than the Cutler injury.
We have bowl games galore coming up now. It's a football lovers week. We have two bowl games tonight. Three tomorrow. Saturday, there are four. Sunday is all NFL. Monday has four more. Tuesday, New Year's Eve, there are four bowl games. New Year's Day, there are six. The next day is Oklahoma-Alabama. Friday has two more bowl games. Saturday starts the NFL playoffs. More playoffs Sunday. And Monday is the national championship game.