Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Methods: Understanding NFL Draft Day Nonsense

Nathaniel BallanceContributor IApril 24, 2010

As I sat and watched the NFL draft, I was reminded why the whole production has become so ridiculously intolerable.

Sure, I love the drama of who goes where, who's going to drop, and which teams are going to trade up or down, but the whole analysis part is absolute garbage.

The main five-man broadcast team that ESPN decided to employ for the 2010 draft consisted of Jon Gruden, Steve Young, Tom Jackson, Chris Berman, and Mel Kiper, Jr.

Before we get started, let's review the qualifications of each man.


Jon Gruden

He landed his first head coaching job at the age of 35 with the Raiders, went 40-28 over four seasons with them, and went to the playoffs three times.

He moved on to Tampa Bay and became the youngest coach at the time to win a Super Bowl. He went on to lead the Bucs to a 57-55 record over seven seasons with three playoff appearances, including a Super Bowl title.

One would think he's had some experience with what exactly it takes to build an NFL football team.


Steve Young

A two-time NFL MVP, Steve Young also was named the Super Bowl MVP in 1994. He is a highly decorated football legend that spent the majority of his career with the 49ers.

But while he was a great player, he has no experience in a football front office, which means he's not overly learned in the art of assembling a winning football team.


Tom Jackson

He enjoyed a 14-year career with the Denver Broncos and was a three-time Pro-Bowl selection and a two-time All-Pro selection.

Like Young however, Jackson has no front-office experience, and although he makes a passable game commentator, he's prone to babbling and rarely adds any insight on draft day.


Chris Berman

He is nothing but a broadcaster. Some people find him charming and amusing, but in reality, he's nothing but a nonsensical parrot.

You quickly tire of his phonetic anecdotes. He masks his lack of football knowledge with a lot of literary fluff.


Mel Kiper Jr.

Since 1984, Kiper has been covering the NFL Draft and the prospects that are involved.

You'd think because of his profession and the longevity he's enjoyed that he'd be good at it. He most certainly is not. Kiper has been widely criticized by front office football officials because of his lack of football experience at any level, professional or amateur.

He's little more than a hair-sprayed blowhard, who absolutely loves hearing himself speak.


One out of five commentators is qualified to analyze what's going on during the draft. One of the five has been involved in the process of selecting amateur players for a professional football team.

Gruden has made a seamless transition from sideline to broadcast booth. He's knowledgeable, insightful, and honest—three great qualities for a decent broadcaster.

Plus, he's outright hilarious on certain occasions.

I thought it would be fun to go back and check out some of the ESPN chats that Mel Kiper Jr. hosted leading up to the drafts and see how useful what he had to say ended up being.

Predicting the NFL Draft is pretty much useless for anyone, due to draft day trades and the like. Mel Kiper Jr. seems to be even more terrible at predicting what teams need than your average Joe Blow football fan.

Additionally, I'll highlight the four Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Methods so that you can sift through his high-volume ramblings and possibly extract at least one useful nugget of information.


Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method No. 1: The List

Mark (Indy)

Mel, any clue as to where the Colts go in Round 1? Any chance of Jerry Hughes there?


I think right now, maybe not. For my final projection, I think I'll have him off the board. Odrick might be there. Price. I could see them going DT. A sleeper could be Linval Joseph from East Carolina.


Here, we see Kiper employ Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method No. 1: The List.

He loves to use these methods to cover his ineptitude when it comes to reporting. Pay attention, because we'll cover them all before I'm done.

In this case, when he has no idea what he's talking about, his solution is simply to name names. He don't even have to use them in a complete sentence, and if he forgets the first name, he'll just throw the guy's last name in the middle somewhere.

And with the 31st pick in the 2010 NFL draft, the Colts select Jerry Hughes, Texas Christian.


Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method No. 2: The Talk-Around Change of Subject

Bill (Buffalo)

If Clausen drops, do you see any team trading up from the second round into the mid-late first round to draft him?


He's not dropping. I thought maybe after the Redskins traded for McNabb, that would hurt him. But the question is, do the Redskins still look at a QB? That's the big question. Do they still have interest at No. 4? McNabb won't have them drafting No. 4. He'll have them at worst 8-8. This might be their best chance in a while to get an elite QB.


First off, let me draw your attention to the use of Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method No. 2: The Talk-Around Change of Subject.

Not once in his response does he even come close to addressing the question.

Question: If Clausen slips does anyone trade up from the second round to the late first to get him?

Answer: The Redskins are at worst an 8-8 team with McNabb, so do they want two high-priced quarterbacks?

What the heck?

Secondly, Jimmy Clausen has done nothing to warrant anyone tabbing him as an "elite" quarterback. And the Redskins just jumped at the chance not more than a month ago to get an elite quarterback in Donovan McNabb.

McNabb is an elite quarterback and still has several good years left in him. There's no reason for Washington to even look Clausen's way, and they didn't.


Repeat Method No. 1: The List

Donnie (Oklahoma)

You mentioned you didn't think Bradford would be a Ram, who do you think will end up with him?


You have to think about teams that look at him as the guy. Seattle, Cleveland, Oakland, Buffalo, Washington. Any one of those teams.


St. Louis.

Seriously, the Rams have passed an half a dozen franchise quarterbacks in the past few years and have just seen themselves get worse and worse.

To be a good team in the NFL, you need a guy behind center who can control a game.

Marc Bulger wasn't that guy, and Kyle Boller certainly isn't. In a draft where everyone was looking to trade down, did Kiper really expect any of the teams he listed to put together the ridiculous package it would have taken to move up to one?

Bradford has exceptional NFL tools and was far and away the best quarterback prospect in the draft.

And a team with a serious need at that position was picking first.

Please note the use of Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method No. 1 again. No explanation or insight, just a list of names.


Sorry, Mel: Wrong Again

Brian (Baton Rouge)

Do you think the Saints will take a linebacker in the first round and if so, who?


If they want a LB in the first round they'll probably look Sean Weatherspoon. If they don't go there, then they could go for a DE. Maybe he didn't realize that the Saints won the Super Bowl and therefore held the 32nd overall pick.


Sean Weatherspoon was never falling that far, there were too many teams that needed linebacker help from 15-30.

But I think Kiper may have had all of those teams selecting Jimmy Clausen.

The Saints ended up not going with a linebacker in the first round. They also failed to take Mel's advice about a DE and went with a cornerback out of Florida State.


Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method No. 3: The Random Fact Drop

Brad (Colorado)

Were you higher on McFadden a few years ago than you are on Spiller now?


They're about the same. McFadden was versatile, but Spiller is a dynamic pass receiving option and dynamic return man, punts and kicks. Spiller's the best all-purpose back to come out since Reggie Bush. Bush has a Super Bowl ring. One of the reasons they did win was because of his versatility. I said all along that even when he wasn't making plays, teams were focusing in on him. That's what Spiller will do.


Please notice the italicized sentence. It's Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method No. 3: The Random Fact Drop.

He drops in this beauty about Bush having a Super Bowl ring, which has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand, and regardless, isn't an accurate reflection of Reggie Bush's NFL performance.

The Saints' championship wasn't won by Reggie Bush's versatile abilities.

But by telling you this, he's diverted your attention from the fact that he doesn't have any idea what he's talking about.


Me Kiper Topic Avoidance Method No. 4: The Complete 180

Benjamin (The Colony, TX)

I'm seeing Trent Williams projected #6 overall. That would make three OU picks in the top-6! (assuming Bradford and McCoy go 1 and 3 as planned) When was the last time you can remember three picks from one school going so high in the draft? (at least top-10).


Two of the players from OU didn't play at all—Gresham and Bradford. OU didn't get what they thought they would this season. It's amazing that they have all of these prospects. Williams, at 313 pounds ran a 4.81 at the combine. That's amazing speed. You're thinking about guys like TEs running in the 4.8s. 34.5 vertical. He needs to work harder in the weight room in the offseason. A number of the OTs did 30+ reps and he didn't. You definitely want 25 or more, and Williams only did 23. Anthony Davis did only 21.


Here's a perfect example of the Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method No. 4: The Complete 180.

He takes the question, completely ignores it, and answers something different. In this case, the reader asks about the last time one school so dominated the top of the first round.

The normal fan's mind immediately goes back to the recent classes to come out of places like USC and to a later extent, Miami and Florida State.

But Kiper mentions none of these. He just lists off combine numbers that ultimately aren't all that important and that any interested fan probably already knows.


Let's recap.

Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method No. 1:  The List

Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method No. 2: The Talk-Around Change of Subject

Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method No. 3: Random Fact Drop

Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method No. 4: The Complete 180


    Report: NFL Mulling Penalty for Kneeling

    NFL logo

    Report: NFL Mulling Penalty for Kneeling

    Tyler Conway
    via Bleacher Report

    TE Henry Suffers Season-Ending ACL Tear

    NFL logo

    TE Henry Suffers Season-Ending ACL Tear

    Scott Polacek
    via Bleacher Report

    Predicting 2018 Breakout Teams

    NFL logo

    Predicting 2018 Breakout Teams

    Zach Kruse
    via Bleacher Report

    Report: Eagles Declined Foles to Browns Trade

    NFL logo

    Report: Eagles Declined Foles to Browns Trade

    Scott Polacek
    via Bleacher Report