Mel Kiper is as much entertainer — some say provocateur — as he is a talent evaluator.
His schtick has been very successful. The draft analyst/prognosticator has been employed by ESPN for decades.
But anything he says in the months, weeks and days leading up to the NFL Draft should be seen through that lens.
Heck, he has released his second mock draft of the season — and we still haven’t even reached the NFL Scouting Combine. Free agency is still to come.
Teams do not know what their roster will look like in four weeks, let alone who they are going to take in late April.
With that perspective, we present his case for the Dolphins having the chance to take UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen at 11 — and doing just that.
Kiper slotted Rosen to Miami in his latest mock draft, and if creating buzz was his intention, consider the mission accomplished.
How exactly can the quarterback who many think will be the second player taken in April be the fourth quarterback off the board?
Here’s how: “The only reason I dropped him was because I gave [Saquon] Barkley a 2. It just came down to a gut feel — do you give Rosen at 6 to the Jets and drop [Baker] Mayfield to Miami or go Mayfield at 6 and drop Rosen?”
Translation: Kiper believes the Giants will use the second overall pick on Barkley, the dynamic Penn State running back, and that Mayfield, not Rosen, will be the third quarterback off the board, behind Oklahoma State’s Josh Allen and USC’s Sam Darnold.
Rosen is a polarizing prospect, just as much so (if not more) than Mayfield. Some see a genius. Others see an attitude issue. He is certainly outspoken, but some see him as moody and entitled. He’s gone after the idea of college athletes and President Donald Trump, among others.
But he’s also very good at throwing the football. At 6-4, 218 pounds, he fits the mold. He threw for 3,756 yards and 26 touchdowns in his third and final year on campus.
Still, he has work to do to be the draft’s first overall pick (if he even wants that, since he will be playing for the Browns).
“Rosen, the interviews at the Combine are going to be important, to show that he can be a galvanizer, that he’s a great leader, that he’s passionate and he loves the game of football, will be the first one in, the last one out,” Kiper said. “We know he’s got great intelligence. We know he’s a great pure passer. We know all that. But does he have the extra intangible to be the great quarterback he’s capable of being?”
Kiper added: “He could be in the mix to be the second pick or he could drop down to 11. There’s a polarization with that whole evaluation. There’s a lot of mixed opinions. I could have put him at 6 and I don’t think anybody would have been questioning that. I put him at 11 and it raised some eyebrows. It was just a gut feel.”
Parting shot: Quirky personalities are not necessarily a deal-breaker for Dolphins coach Adam Gase. If he could work with Jay Cutler, it’s reasonable to think he could work with Rosen.
▪ Miami Hurricanes defensive end Chad Thomas could benefit from a relatively weak draft group of edge rushers. Kiper said there is a huge dropoff from N.C. State’s Bradley Chubb to UTSA’s Marcus Davenport, and then a big dropoff to the rest of the class.
“Chad Thomas, if he can round off his game, can be a pretty good pass rusher,” Kiper said. “He’s got upside. If he’s there in the third of fourth round, Chad Thomas can be intriguing.”