Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

January 2, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Mel Kiper

SA (Big 10 Country)

Now that Scherff has stated that he's staying at Iowa, what other Hawkeyes are possible draft picks? Are any of their 3 linebackers who are highly regarded NFL quality players?

Mel Kiper
  (2:04 PM)

From the senior group, the top guy is probably CJ Fiedorowicz in the 4-5 round area. All three LBs are all Day 3 type guys. The kicker is a priority free agent. Lowery is a Day 3 prospect.

Eric (Chicago)

Hi Mel, am I the only one who thinks the signing of Cutler to that deal is the wrong move? I believe that the Bears could have re-signed McCown, franchised Cutler, traded Cutler (CLE, HOU, AZ, etc) and received picks to help with the defense getting younger. I'm sure I'm not the first to say this, but the Bears won't win anything in the next 7 years, Super Bowl I'm referring to. Thanks.

Mel Kiper
  (2:06 PM)

I've never been high on Cutler as others have been. But they really didn't have a choice. McCown is a career backup. They're in a division with Stafford and Rodgers. You saw what happened with the Vikings this year. McCown isn't 24, 25. He's 34. What is your other choice? Start over with a rookie? The problem with this team isn't the offense, it's the defense. You can't let Cutler go and then have that defense. You bring Cutler back and then attack the defense in the draft and free agency. If it improves, they could do some damage next year.

Jim (Memphis)

Do the Texans take a QB or can O'Brien reconfigure Schaub so they can take Clowney?

Mel Kiper
  (2:09 PM)

That's up to O'Brien to determine. He's got options. He has a veteran QB like Schaub. There are 5-6 QBs in the draft for him to evaluate. The Texans brought in David Carr as the No. 1 pick and they didn't have enough around him. This league is crazy. Some picked the Texans as a Super Bowl contender and now they're picking No. 1 overall. Now, you have to assess all these QBs and decide if they want to pick one. It's going to be O'Brien's pick for the QB. Either Schaub or one of the rookies. I think he takes one in the draft. A new coach comes in, they always want their hand picked QB.

John (Mpls)

Mel - how have your impressions of the QBs altered after the Bowl games?

Mel Kiper
  (2:10 PM)

Carr had a rough outing against USC, so his stock dropped. Manziel, Bridgewater, Hundley had good games. Bortles struggled until the 10 minute mark in the third quarter but then looked like a top 5 pick. AJ McCarron, we'll see him tonight. Right now, we have four that helped themselves and one hurt himself.

Mel Kiper
  (2:11 PM)

A late round pick, Connor Shaw really helped himself. He's a career backup that I'd like to have on my football team. He showed he is deserving as a late rounder or priority free agent.

Keith (TN)

Is Blake Bortles really rated by NFL scouts to be, not only a top 5 QB in the Draft (that's a stretch in itself) but to also be a top 5 pick overall? (concerned Jags fan not wanting Gabbert 2.0)

Mel Kiper
  (2:16 PM)

I would agree, but QBs are overdrafted every season. Locker, Ponder, Tannehill all were overdrafted. It's a critical position. Bortles has the traits. He's a smart kid. With his size, arm, mobility. He looks the part. I think the comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger are exaggerated. I loved him coming out and had him highly rated. He had great ball placement. Bortles struggled with ball placement. I saw him in two games at the end of the year where he struggled. The balls were caught, but it wasn't put in a place to maximize the catch. In the first half last night, he was off on throws. But from the 10 minute mark in the third quarter, he was on target. He made a play where he slipped, got himself together and made a great throw. I don't know if his confidence went up, but he got in a zone. In the first half, he looked like no better than a third rounder. In the second half, he looked like a top 5 pick. Someone will take him in the top 10-15. You can work with him. Put the ball in the right spot. He just needs a little bit of refinement. If he gets it, nothing will prevent him from being a good QB, because he has everything else. With 5 teams in the top 8 that need QBs desperately, he'll go somewhere in there.

Jayson (NY)

what should the Dolphins do in th eoffseason? are they moving in the right direction?

Mel Kiper
  (2:19 PM)

I'd be hesitant to say everything is moving in the right direction. This team isn't on the cusp. Tannehill looked like, throughout the most of the year, they could say they had the right QB. What bothered me were the last two games. Buffalo and the Jets. Two key division opponents. He made some bad throws. He just didn't looked good. That's what I noticed at TAMU. That's why I didn't give him a glowing evaluation in the draft. He looked overmatched in certain occasions in the clutch. The pressure packed environment of the last two games, he didn't play well. There were chances to make plays and he didn't make them. In the Buffalo game, he had a crucial drop by Hartline, but it wasn't all the WRs. If there weren't those last two games, I'd say you're right on the cusp. But those last two games were a red flag.

Mel Kiper
  (2:19 PM)

They now need 3 new OL. They have to hope that you have the right guy in Tannehill. You have to hope that he can handle the pressure situations.

AJ (DC)

Which players in the FCS national championship between North Dakota State and Towson so you see having and NFL future?

Mel Kiper
  (2:21 PM)

Terrence West, RB, Towson. He has an NFL future. Towson also has a CB, Jordan Love. He has a chance to be a priority free agent. Then, for ND State, QB Jensen; RB Sam Ojuri; CB Marcus Williams.

Jeff (Tampa, FL)

Does Bret Hundley pass Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles on draft boards if he decides to leave early?

Mel Kiper
  (2:23 PM)

I don't think so. I think he needs another year at UCLA to work on his passing skills, to become a more consistent passer. Next year, he could be right there with Mariota in the Pac-12. Mariota made a smart choice and I think Hundley needs another year. If he comes out, I think he'll be the fourth or fifth QB drafted. He'd be in the first round discussion, but another year would shoot him up the board.

Tony (Richmond, CA)

Is Bridgewater a lock for the Texans with O'Brien being hired as the head coach? If not, is their first draft choice still guaranteed to be QB in your opinion?

Mel Kiper
  (2:25 PM)

I wouldn't say a lock, but he has to be in the discussion. They have to come away with a QB. It depends on if they are going to be a 3-4 or 4-3. Clowney or Barr could be in the discussion, because they need a pass rush. Jake Matthews took, because they need help on the OL. Everything they need is there. The only unfortunate thing is they're picking No. 1 in the wrong year. Those would all be good picks, but the lock at QB would be Jameis Winston. They could start negotiating a contract with him as soon as he's done playing.

J (NY)

Mel, how big of a drop off is it, from Clowney/Barr/Matthews to the rest of the prospects?

Mel Kiper
  (2:27 PM)

There is a drop off. Not significant. Khalil Mack is gifted. CJ Mosley is a great tackler. He's like Kiko Alonso, who was my top rookie this year on my Rookie Big Board. Watkins and Lee at WR. There is a drop off, but it isn't much. There are some highly skilled players after the top 3-4. This is going to be an excellent draft. There are quality players at a lot of positions and a lot of depth.

John (Mpls)

How much emphasis do you/scouts put into a QB's Bowl game performance? It is one game, but it is one game on a big stage. Do scouts get nervous if the QB chokes (see Carr)?

Mel Kiper
  (2:29 PM)

There is a chance for Carr to make up for that. The problem for him is that was one of the few chances that he faced a top team. Carr's faced two big opponents. So Senior Bowl Week is key. You have to put it all in context. If it's player you've seen against top competition, then it might not matter as much. BUT, Peyton Manning never beat Florida. Daunte Culpepper didn't play well against Auburn. Sometimes you can't overreact to one game. That's why Senior Bowl Week is important.

Mike P (Greater Kc Metro)

Does Ameer Abdullah leave Nebraska and enter into the Draft or does he stay one more year. If he does leave where do you rate him?

Mel Kiper
  (2:32 PM)

He doesn't need one more year based on his performance. You're not going to have a more productive year. But you only have so many carries as a RB. There are a lot of RBs in the junior class. The senior class isn't as deep. Melvin Gordon has already made a smart move and said he's going back. Thomas, Carey, Seastrunk, Mason, there are a lot of juniors. What he'll have to consider is that it's not a good senior class this year and how many of the juniors will come out.

Mel Kiper
  (2:32 PM)

It's a hard decision for a running back.

Manny (Houston)

Can you see the Titans taking Johnny Manziel with the 11th pick? I don't think the Titans can afford to keep being patient with Locker

Mel Kiper
  (2:35 PM)

They are one of the teams that I am watching. They're at a crossroads at QB. They need to make a decision. They don't really have a lot of identity. They don't have a lot of star players. Locker is very average. He was overdrafted coming out. If they stay at 11, they won't see the top QBs. That doesn't mean they won't see a good one in the second round. Minnesota drafts 8 and they'll be the fifth team looking at a QB. If Tennessee wants one of those QBs, they might have to move up. There will be QBs still available at 11, but the elites will be gone.

Anthony (NYC)

Mel if you were constructing the Giants board who would you have at the top? I'd assume OL and impact front 7 defenders.

Mel Kiper
  (2:36 PM)

They could look LB, OL, DB. Those are the areas they could be looking at where they'll be drafting.

Chris (DC)

have you seen a high profile pick like Manziel's prospects change so much in one year?

Mel Kiper
  (2:39 PM)

He's like a once in a lifetime player. He was an unbelievable college player. In a two year period, he did remarkable things. He won a Heisman as a redshirt freshman. He's hard to evaluate. He doesn't have great size. He doesn't have great arm strength. His running around makes you wonder if he can stand the test of time. Will he know how to save his body? With his size, you can't be putting yourself in harm's way. Manziel is a very difficult evaluation. There are games when he looks like a top 5 pick. Every game you change your opinion. He's hard to figure. But someone will take him in the top 10. I think he's interesting to Minnesota. He's Fran Tarkenton.

Phil (Chicago)

Should Stephon Tuitt come back for one more year? Where would you rate him now and what would his ceiling be next year?

Mel Kiper
  (2:40 PM)

He's an interesting guy too, because he's a 3-4 DE. I like him. He's like a Seymour type. I think he's the kind of guy that figures in the mid first. If he went back, how high could he go? That depends on performance.

myles [via mobile]

Mel, do you think this crop of QB's can be elite and franchise quaterbacks

Mel Kiper
  (2:43 PM)

You just don't know. None of them on paper, right now. There is no Andrew Luck. No Jameis Winston in the draft. But Aaron Rodgers wasn't considered franchise when they came out. Tom Brady. Drew Brees. Look at these names: Tony Romo, Rodgers, Foles, Dalton, Brees, Brady, Kaepernick, Wilson. None of those guys were considered franchise QBs when they came out. There will always be guys that are considered that: Matt Ryan, Sam Bradford (though he hasn't lived up to it), RG III, Eli Manning, Cutler, Roethlisberger, Palmer, Rivers, Alex Smith, Luck, Newton, Peyton Manning.

Mel Kiper
  (2:43 PM)

Bridgewater, Bortles, Manziel, Hundley, Carr, McCarron. That's the order right now. And we don't know if all of them are coming out or staying.

Mel Kiper
  (2:44 PM)

Blaine Gabbert was chosen to be a franchise QB. Brandon Weedeon too. He's going to be out of a job and he's only in the league for two years.

Jim (Portland, OR)

Hey Mel, Were do you see the Rams going in the first round?

Mel Kiper
  (2:45 PM)

You have a lot of money invested in Bradford. He and Stafford were the last two QBs with big deals. You have to protect him better. You don't want him taking big hits. They have No. 2 and No. 13. Their need is big on the OL. Jake Long is coming off an injury. They need a go-to WR. Jake Matthews would be good at No. 2. At No. 13, Watkins or Lee at WR would be nice to see on the board.

J (NY)

Watching an Archie Manning special a few weeks ago, reminded me a lot of Manziel, do you think they are at all similar?

Mel Kiper
  (2:47 PM)

I look more Tarkenton than Archie. He was a guy that was a consensus first round pick early in the draft. He just happened to unfortunately go to a bad team in the Saints. He was the second pick overall. That's when QBs went 1-2-3 in that draft. Manziel is not a consensus first round pick.

Mike P (Greater Kc Metro)

We have seen the Belichick coaching tree not develop any long standing quality head coaches (Crennel, McDaniels, Weis, Mangini) the only successful one has been Saban, what can we expect from Bill O'brien in the NFL with Houston?

Mel Kiper
  (2:50 PM)

No matter who you are, you have to have a QB. I don't care who you are. Belichick struck gold with Brady. He had Bledsoe and then Brady. I don't know any coaches who have won for a long time without a QB. Sean Payton, Drew Brees. Belichick, Brady. Kaepernick, Harbaugh. Where would Denver be without Peyton Manning? Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll. Where would he be with Matt Flynn? Green Bay without Aaron Rodgers? Roethlisberger, Tomlin. Eli Manning, Tom Coughlin. It's all about the QB. If Bill O'Brien finds the right QB, he'll be an excellent coach. If he doesn't, he won't be a good coach.

Mel Kiper
  (2:50 PM)

I don't know of many coaches that won Super Bowls without a great QB. Brian Bilick did with Baltimore. Trent Dilfor was an OK QB, but they had an elite defense.

Jim (Portland, OR)

How would you rate the top 5 tackles coming out? Is Mathews that much better then the rest?

Mel Kiper
  (2:52 PM)

Matthews is a stud. He's No. 3 on the Big Board. Robinson from Auburn is No. 9 on the Big Board. Lewan is No. 20. Kouandjio is No. 22. Then you have to wait to see on the underclassmen. Erving. Richardson is another junior. In the senior group, there is a dropoff after Lewan. Ja'Wuan James. Zack Martin. I see only maybe 4 first round OTs.

Mel Kiper
  (2:53 PM)

If none of the juniors come out, there could only be two OTs in the first round.

Stephen (Oakland)

Do you think the Raiders will see either Clowney or Johnny Football available at #5?

Mel Kiper
  (2:56 PM)

They have to get a QB. It's hard to judge Pryor or McGloin this year. They don't have a big time WR. McFadden was hurt most of the year. It's hard to judge Pryor, but you have to think about bringing in someone else to compete with him. Manziel could be there. Clowney would be a good pick too, but you're the fourth best QB in the division. You can't have the fourth best QB in the division. If you draft a QB and Pryor emerges as the better option, then so be it. I'd draft 2-3 QBs and let the competition begin. Some of these QBs you just don't know. Until I hit on someone, I'd keep bringing them in. In this league, you need a QB. It's like 7 on 7 football. You can't win with a running game and defense any more.

Mel Kiper
  (2:56 PM)

I'd bring in 3 every year until I find one. If I go 0-for-6 then fire me. I'll bring in 3 each year. I'm not putting all of my eggs in one basket.

J (NY)

Do you think the Jets are doing right by bringing back Rex Ryan?

Mel Kiper
  (2:59 PM)

Definitely. Who do you think could have ever brought this glorified expansion team (as I called them earlier in the year) to 8-8? He should be in discussion for coach of the year. The offense needs juice. They have to hope that Geno Smith is the guy. I'd draft another QB late in the draft. What if Seattle had thought, we have Matt Flynn, we don't need another QB? They wouldn't have drafted Russell Wilson in the third round! If I'm the Jets and they love AJ McCarron in the second round, pick him. If you have a QB you love in the first round and you have a chance to get him, take him. Geno had some good moments and some horrible moments. They can go out and draft another QB. You have to have a QB! They need back seven help on defense, but their defense overall is strong. They just need a great QB.

Mel Kiper
  (3:00 PM)

Nobody was saying Sanchez was awful after his first couple of years. When he came out and made the playoffs, no one was saying he was awful. You have to keep taking shots at QB.

Mel Kiper
  (3:00 PM)

Happy New Year to everyone! It's our first chat in 2014. When we talk next week, we'll know who the national champion is. I'm picking FSU. We'll have the first round of the playoffs over. It will be fun in January!