Mel Kiper: What does it take to be a draft “expert”?


Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

"He was a one-year wonder. Akili Smith was a one-year wonder. – Mel Kiper talking about Cam Newton before the 2011 NFL Draft"

By now you’ve heard about Mel Kiper predicting Johnny Manziel going number one overall to the Houston Texans. Well Mel, I’m going to hope that this is up there with some of your other bad calls (we’ll get into that in a second). I don’t think the Texans are going to take Manziel with the first pick in the 2014 NFL draft. If they trade down then who knows, but definitely not with the first overall pick.

Mel Kiper is the leading NFL draft analysts for ESPN. He has a hard job. A fun job nonetheless, but still a hard one. He  watches thousands of tapes analyzing hundreds of players trying to make it to the NFL.

He is basically employed to make as good a guess as he possibly can on the first 32 picks and then let us, the viewers, know a general direction of what each team will do after that in rounds two through seven.

However, if you’re an avid fan of your team (which I assume you are if you are going to watch the second through seventh rounds) then you probably already have a general idea of where your team is going because you’ve also been tracking the draft for months, just like those guys on ESPN.

So what is he paid for? What makes Kiper better than you or me sitting on a couch, having a drink, and yelling at the TV about who is getting picked next?

Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

For me, it’s all about the players between picks 6-32. If he hit on those guys, I’m impressed. Unfortunately, that rarely happens. Any person can predict three or four of the top five picks every year, it’s when you get further down the board that Kiper should be making his money and putting most of his available resources.

So up till now, I’ve just been voicing my opinion about Mel Kiper, but now it’s time to back that opinion up with some cold hard facts. I did some digging and found that had done some research into this topic and had taken all of Kiper’s picks from 2008-2012 and analyzed them.

The results are very eye-opening as to how this “draft experts” is more like the “weather expert” we see on the news every night, in the fact that they have a 50-50 shot of getting it. Kiper accurately knows where Johnny Manziel is going in the draft as much as the weather forecaster accurately knows whether it’s going to be 40 or 100 degrees in Houston tomorrow.

Point being: He doesn’t.

In case you think I’m being harsh and want to defend Kiper for what he does, let’s just look at some of his more famous misses.

Mel Kiper had this to say about Jamarcus Russell:

"JaMarcus Russell’s gonna immediately energize that Raider Nation, that fan base, that football team- on the practice field, in that locker room- three years from now you could be looking at a guy that’s certainly one of the elite top five quarterbacks in this league. You’re talking about a 2-3 year period once he’s under center. Look out because skill level that he has is certainly John Elway like."

And also this to say about Ryan Leaf:

"I think Ryan Leaf is more mature than Drew Bledsoe, he’s very much a grown up 21 year old."

Maybe he’d like to take this back about the man who just set the record for passing yards and touchdowns in a season:

"He (Peyton Manning) isn’t John Elway, Dan Marino or Jim Kelly, but he’s as good as it gets in college football. A lot of these teams in the NFL are desperate for quarterbacks and he’s the best out there, with Ryan Leaf a real close second."

Well he was right about one thing, Manning isn’t Elway, Marino  or Kelly, but only because he (Manning) is better than all three of those quarterbacks.

So when Kiper releases his next mock draft, maybe we should all take a step back, count to ten, and remember that he knows as much about the draft as the weather forecaster who tells us to wrap up warm for a chilly day that leaves us sweating through our jeans in 100 degree heat.

Next week I’ll dive into his other half on ESPN, Toddy McShay, but until then let us revel in the “expertize” that is Mel Kiper Jr.

"If Jimmy Clausen is not a successful quarterback in the NFL, I’m done. That’s it. I’m out."

And if that quote is anything to go by, then we won’t be listening to Kiper for much longer.