Mel Kiper was in mid-flow, still going strong after two hours and two minutes. He’d taken more than 80 questions on a national conference call.
ESPN’s draft analyst asked if there were still any people left on the line. There were still 12 more callers.
He took all of the calls, one of the last ones being about Sam Houston State quarterback Rhett Bomar for a small newspaper guy in Texas. That was very gracious of Kiper and one of the reasons why most traditional print media guys love him.
Folks would ask Kiper about some obscure DB from the WAC and he’d start rattling off their vital stats. Some of the reporters would thank Kiper for dropping some knowledge on them.
This is Kiper’s 31st year in the business of analyzing draft prospects and he’ll be a major part of ESPN’s coverage on Saturday and Sunday.
So to help us get ready for the overall draft, here’s Kiper on a variety of players, topics and all-around general drafnikness (I think I just created a new word!):
ON LIONS DRAFTING STAFFORD: “I would expect (Georgia quarterback Matthew) Stafford to go No. 1. I don’t have any inside information on what Detroit’s thinking in terms of obviously they want to have this guy signed before the draft if they can. To me it would be the obvious pick. That’s what they need.”
He’s wondering why the Lions are dragging their feet with signing Stafford.
“The decision on Stafford should have been made a long time ago, whether they were going to make him the No. 1 pick overall,” Kiper said.
ON TEXAS TECH WIDEOUT MICHAEL CRABTREE: “I don’t think the injury affected him that much because he was projected to go fourth to Seattle prior to that, long before anybody signed any free agents. Now he’s projected to go fifth to Cleveland. So it’s not a huge drop for him.”
ON MARYLAND WIDEOUT DARRIUS HEYWARD-BEY: He noted that the speedy Heyward-Bey – who ran under 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash on a few stop watches at the combine — had some games at Maryland where he didn’t catch a pass.
“That shouldn’t happen,” Kiper said. “When you have a kid this skilled, you force the ball to him. If you’re shut out in some college games, what’s going to happen in the NFL? There are definitely some questions
Kiper has Heyward-Bey as the third receiver behind Crabtree and Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin. He could go to the New York Jets (17) or Minnesota (22). If he gets past Minnesota then Miami (25) would be a possibility.
“They definitely need a receiver,” Kiper said.
ON FLORIDA RECEIVER PERCY HARVIN: Harvin has slipped in the draft after reports of a failed drug test. Kiper had him going at No. 17, but now it looks like he’ll be a late first rounder.
“He’s not a wide receiver per say, but a jack of all trades,” Kiper said. “He’s a Reggie Bush with the Saints — not Reggie at USC, but Reggie with the Saints. And that’s the kind of player he can be — running back, receiver, return man.”
Durability is an issue for teams drafting Harvin.
“He’s only 195 pounds and he’s going to have to prove that he can stay healthy,” Kiper said. “If you can keep him on the field, he’s going to put up a lot of all-purpose yards for you.”
ON WEST VIRGINIA QB PAT WHITE: Kiper sees him going in the second or third round.
TOP QB’S NEXT SEASON: Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, Central Michigan’s Dan LeFevour and Texas’ Colt McCoy. He projects Florida’s Tim Tebow as a H-back or Wildcat (10 to 15 plays) quarterback.
ON CLEMSON RB JAMES DAVIS: He has the former Douglass High standout going in the fourth round.
ON GEORGIA TECH DE MICHAEL JOHNSON: Once considered a top 10 pick, Kiper said that Johnson could slide all the way in to the third round.
ON CLEMSON WR AARON KELLY: He has the former Walton High standout going in the fifth round.
ON ALABAMA TACKLE ANDRE SMITH: “Nick Saban has helped him maintain a top 10 draft status despite what has gone on during the draft process,” Kiper said.
ON MISSISSIPPI DT PERIA JERRY: “I thought he was the most underrated defensive player in the country all last year,” Kiper said.
ON THE GLUT OF HYBRID DE/OLBs: Kiper noted that Florida State’s Everette Brown, Northern Illinois’ Larry English, Virginia’s Clint Sintim, Southern Cal’s Clay Matthews Jr., Penn State’s Aaron Maybin and Cincinnati’s Connor Barwin could all play either defensive end of outside linebacker.
“There is an incredible number of those combo type of players this year,” Kiper said.
MORENO IS HIS TOP RB: Kiper likes Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno, but believes that the New
Orleans Saints will take Ohio State’s Chris Wells first. Connecticut’s Donald Brown is the third best running back in the draft.
Kiper doesn’t believe Wells is soft.
“He ran hard when he was healthy,” Kiper said.
Kiper has Moreno going to Philadelphia at 21 or Arizona at 31.
35th ANNIVERSARY OF BEST DRAFT OF ALL TIME: In 1974, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted wide receiver Lynn Swann (1st round), linebacker Jack Lambert (second round), wide receiver John Stallworth (fourth round) and center Mike Webster (fifth round). All have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
ON RHETT BOMAR: Sounds familiar? He was the kid who had to leave Oklahoma and getting paid too much for “working” at his summer job. He should go in the fourth or fifth round.
“Rhett has a chance,” Kiper said. “But he has some mechanical issues.”
Are you a big Kiper fan? Don’t like the hair? Think his has Moreno going too low? He’s been picking Brandon Pettigrew to go to Atlanta for awhile, but seemed to shy away from that pick a little bit on the call.