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Mel Kiper Jr. talks 2017 NFL Draft On ESPN Conference Call

Mel Kiper Conference Call NFL Marianne O'Leary via


Mel Kiper loves the depth of defensive back position, makes case for multiple quarterbacks, and stands by philosophy on drafting running backs during conference call.

The NFL is in the middle of Conference Championship week, but Mel Kiper was in full draft mode as he held a conference call to cover the upcoming NFL Draft. With the NFL Scouting Combine set for February 28 through March 6th, Kiper thoroughly answered questions about many prospects. With Kiper‘s first mock draft being released just hours before the call, he was able to defend many of his early picks.

Mel Kiper has been evaluating players for ESPN since 1984, and he stated that this years defensive backs is one of the deepest classes he has ever seen. In just the first round, Kiper has around four or five defensive backs being selected. He talked about the depth of the position after answering a question about the Tennessee Titans need for a player in the secondary.

“I thought about giving them [Marshon] Lattimore from Ohio State at 5, I gave them Mike Williams knowing that you can get a corner at 18. Whether it be Marlon Humphrey from Alabama. Whether it be Teez Taybor or Quincey Wilson, both of whom are from Florida. You got Cordrea Tankersley from Clemson, Sidney Jones from Washington. Tre’Davious White is another one from LSU that is late first, maybe early second round.”

With the quarterback position being put at such a high value in the NFL, Kiper knows that a few guys will go higher than they are projected. He stated in the conference call that he has Deshaun Watson 34th on his big board, but believes he will be taken anywhere from the 10th overall pick to the 15th overall pick because of the need at the position for a lot of teams. He talked about quarterbacks after a question about the Kansas City Chiefs.

“I think Patrick Mahomes in the second round would be a guy that I put a very high grade on right now. I think if you look at guys later on, Antonio Pipkin from Tiffin will be at the Senior Bowl, could be a guy to keep an eye on there. It’ll be interesting to see where Brad Kaaya comes off the board there in that third or fourth round there. . . I think Deshon Kizer would be there in the second round, he has physical and athletic talent, big strong arm, he looks the part.”

Another position that he raved about was the tight end position. Kiper believes that the defensive players will far outweigh the number of offensive players selected, but the talent at the wide receiver and tight end position could close that gap. Some of the players he brought up a few times are O. J. Howard out of Alabama, Bucky Hodges from Virginia Tech, Jake Butt from Michigan coming off of his injury, Jordan Leggett from Clemson, Cole Hikutini from Louisville, Gerald Everett from South Alabama, Adam Shaheen from Ashland University, and David Njoku from Miami is a guy he thinks could find his way into the first round.

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Over the years, Kiper has defended his philosophy on never drafting running backs in the first round. He is a firm believer in the fact that a team can get a running back with similar talent in the later rounds. With running backs in his mock draft going in the first round, he was challenged on his stance during the conference call.

“This is a mock draft, not a personal preference draft. So last year, [Ezekiel] Elliot was projected to go where he did and he went. If the offensive coordinator and the head coach have to have a player to use then OK, if his grade is worthy then fine. But I would never take a running back in the first round in any year, last time I checked, 11 or the 12 teams that drafted a running back in the first round didn’t make the playoffs and the final four have no first round running backs starting right now. . . And these kids this year, whether it be [Dalvin] CookLeonard Fournette, D’onta Foreman, they are deserving of being in the first round discussion. Would it effect my philosophy? No.”

Mel Kiper has been evaluating players for years, and his philosophy will stand strong regardless of how teams decide to draft. With the NFL Draft set to take place from April 27th through the 29th in Philadelphia, many players stock will rise and fall. Be sure to follow our own draft expert Nick DeCasare as he will break the latest news and have his own strong opinions as well.