YOU'VE GOT MEL | Kiper's Mailbag
Q: After looking at a few mock drafts I am confused. Don't you think the Carolina Panthers have more pressing matters than WR and LB? Don't you think it would be wise for them to pick up a CB or a FS with cover skills or a TE who can catch and block well?
Paul Hutchens, Raleigh, N.C
KIPER: Cornerback does look like the most pressing need the Panthers have right now. There was a lot of skepticism about the Carolina secondary, particularly the corners, but they did hold up fairly well thanks to the tremendous pass rush the front four generates. That masked some potential problems, though, and at No. 31 in the first round Ricardo Colclough of Tusculum could be an interesting option, and a guy moving up the board toward the late first round is Michigan's Jeremy LeSueur. The 6-1, 203-pounder has the size to match up well at the next level, had 12 pass breakups in 2003 and averaged 22.1 yards per kickoff return during his career. He is also excellent in punt coverage and could be a good fit. WR and LB, are certainly needs, as is TE down the road, but corner looks like the No, 1 priority right now for Carolina.
Q: Will the San Diego Chargers try to trade the No. 1 overall pick?
Bill, Portland, Ore.
KIPER: The only reason the Chargers would trade down is if they feel Drew Brees is their answer at QB, and by benching him last season they seemed to send a message that he is not the guy for them. If they keep the pick Eli Manning is the way they have to go, but there are also needs at WR, OT, DT and LB. There are a lot of solid young players in the secondary right now and that looks like the only area on the D that is set, so there are a variety of needs to fill if they trade down, and those are also areas that could potentially be filled via free agency. But I look for them to keep the pick and take Eli Manning unless they are blown away by an offer.
Q: I am a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan and would like know where they might go in the draft, and if they go with a WR who would be the best available in at No. 29 in the first round?
Kevin, Tampa, Fla.
KIPER: Guys like Reggie Williams of Washington, Michael Clayton and Devery Henderson of LSU and Michael Jenkins of could be on the board at that point and would fit the Eagles needs. But there is a lot of speculation the Eagles will go hard after Terrell Owens, and should they fill the WR need that way the other area of need could be at center with the way Hank Fraley struggled this year. They seriously considered C/G LeCharles Bentley from Ohio State a few years ago but opted for CB Lito Sheppard from Florida instead, and this year they would have a chance to take the No. 1 center available, Jake Grove from Virginia Tech.
Q: Who will the New Orleans Saints go for in the draft?
Charles, Alexandria, La.
KIPER: I said last year the Saints needed cornerbacks and questioned them for passing on CB Marcus Trufant in order to take DT Jonathan Sullivan -- something coach Jim Haslett took exception to -- and that is still an issue in New Orleans. The secondary was horrible for the second year in a row while Trufant ended up becoming one of the best defensive rookies in the NFL with Seattle. The Saints now have to look for a CB again and at No. 18 in the first round they could have a shot at quality corner prospects like USC's Will Poole, South Carolina's Dunta Robinson or Ohio State's Chris Gamble.
Q: Prior to his injury I thought Brandon Miree of Pittsburgh could be a second or third round pick. He has good speed and size and runs well between the tackles. Will he be drafted or could he be the free agent steal of the year? I think he'll make some coach in the NFL look good.
Panther Fan, Pittsburgh, Pa.
KIPER: Miree showed the potential for future stardom while he was at Alabama, and after his transfer to Pittsburgh was expected to be one of the offensive stars in the Big East. He rushed for 943 yards in 2002 -- including four 100-yard efforts -- but missed seven games in 2003 with a fractured right fibula. He is a great kid and a hard worker, though, and at 6-1, 235 he is the kind of big back with the quickness and little wiggle teams like. He fell by the wayside a bit this year but could still be a sixth or seventh round selection or priority free agent and make a football team after putting up numbers against some of the best teams in the country during his college career.