Draft Forecast: Mel Kiper

The Draft Daze interview tour continued with a conversation with Mel Kiper. His experiences after more than 30 years in the draft business made for some interesting stories.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper, the draft guru who has helped transform the event into the television phenomenon that it is today,  gave me a few minutes of his time and I got a lot of great stories and analysis in return. Kiper took me back in time to his first draft in 1984 and also previewed this year’s draft in April. Here are a few of his thoughts on this year’s draft class. Everything else will be covered in the book.

1. Andrew Luck is Kiper’s highest-graded player since John Elway in 1983. In fact, Kiper said he believes Luck would have went No. 1 overall last year before Cam Newton, who set some records on his way to becoming the NFL’s Rookie of the Year. Luck’s talent level makes the Colts’ selection – and their corresponding dilemma with Peyton Manning – all that more interesting.

2. Kiper thinks 17 – 18 underclassmen could be selected in the first round. He also predicts a defense-heavy early round, with as many as six defensive tackles being selected on the draft’s first night, April 26th.

3. Trent Richardson might be the only running back taken in Round One according to Kiper. After T-Rich, Kiper believes Lamar Miller, David Wilson, and Doug Martin could all slide into Round Two or beyond.

4. The draft is deepest on the offensive and defensive lines. Although Kiper thinks four wide receivers could go in the first round, he sees the skilled players taking a back seat to the lesser-known guys in the trenches. There might not be the flurry of quarterbacks that dominated last year’s draft, but there are a lot of good interior players who can really impact some teams.

All in all, Kiper didn’t disappoint. He was the fast-talking, entertaining, and opinionated guy that has made for such good television over the years.  Follow his upcoming work on ESPN’s NFL Draft page, his updates on Twitter (@MelKiperESPN), and his appearances with Todd McShay on the captivating podcast, First Draft.

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