Now that the 2008 season is over we can now focus on free agency and the draft. ESPN’s draft guru Mel Kiper was asked on a conference call with reporters yesterday about the potential of Georgia QB Matthew Stafford, and in his answer, Kiper compared Stafford with Broncos’ QB Jay Cutler, another SEC alum from Vanderbilt.
With Cutler passing for more than 4,500 passing yards in 2008 and a earning a little thing called a Pro Bowl selection, you’d think that would be a compliment for Stafford. Not according to Kiper.
“[Stafford]’s got the great arm. You can put him in the same class with any of the others that have come out. I’m not going to say anybody has a John Elway or Bert Jones arm. Their arm was in a class all by itself. Cutler’s arm isn’t as strong as Elway’s or Bert Jones, and Stafford is in the Cutler mold,” Kiper said. “He’s inconsistent like Cutler was at Vanderbilt and still is with the Denver Broncos. The inconsistency sometimes doesn’t leave you. It was there with Cutler and is still there.”
Kiper also said he’d take New England QB Matt Cassel, who was a seventh round draft pick in 2005, over any of them.
Let's check Mel Kiper the so called draft guru's predictions from wikipedia.
- Kiper projected quarterback Jeff George of the University of Illinois as a mid-round pick, George selected as number one overall by the Indianapolis Colts. George's career was inconsistent and riddled with behavior-related problems. 
- Kiper projected Notre Dame quarterback Rick Mirer as the 30th pick; he was selected second overall by the Seattle Seahawks. Though he showed some early promise, Mirer failed to develop and was finally benched during his fourth season. He spent the remaining eight years of his career with six different teams as a journeyman backup. 
- Among his failures, Kiper thought that Heisman Trophy winner and University of Houston quarterback Andre Ware would be an excellent NFL quarterback and a great match for the Detroit Lions-- Ware's tenure in the NFL was brief and inconspicuous. Ware is considered among the biggest busts in draft history.
- In 1997, Kiper stated off the air in an interview with Chris Mortenson that Coastal Carolina offensive lineman Adam Steuer was a future hall of famer. Adam Steuer fell to pick 169 to the Buffalo Bills, and would go on to lead a dismal 2-year career, and was eventually cut. He is currently a High School football coach at Seaholm High School in Birmingham, Michigan.
- In 1999, Kiper said that Oregon quarterback Akili Smith would be a great NFL player and would finally provide the Cincinnati Bengals with the passer they'd lacked since Boomer Esiason. Smith was selected ahead of Daunte Culpepper, Torry Holt, Edgerrin James, Champ Bailey, and Jevon Kearse, but he spent less than four abysmal seasons in Cincinnati, starting only 17 games. He has since struggled in several brief stops in the NFL, NFL Europe, and the CFL. It's notable that Kiper rated Smith higher than Donovan McNabb and Culpepper, despite the facts that Smith only had 11 starts at the college level and had performed poorly on the Wonderlic aptitude tests administered at the NFL Combine, both of which are traditionally seen as important indicators of a quarterback's readiness for the NFL. Smith's career was marred by inconsistency and failure to grasp the complexities of the Bengals' playbook, issues which appear to have been foreshadowed by his lack of experience and low scores.
- One of Kiper's most well known mistakes was when he stated that USC wide receiver Mike Williams would be the best player in his 2005 draft class, despite not having played football in over a year after being ruled ineligible by the NCAA. When ESPN analyst Merril Hoge disagreed, Kiper uttered the now infamous line, "I'll see you at his Hall of Fame induction." Williams has been a remarkable disappointment, battling weight problems, playing very little and showing no signs of improvement with any of the three teams he's played for. Williams was unsigned after three years in the NFL as of 2008.
- In the 1995 Draft, Kiper proclaimed UCLA wide receiver JJ Stokes a "sure-thing" who was destined to be a future All-Pro. On draft day, Kiper lambasted several teams, including the New York Jets, for passing on Stokes until he was selected 10th overall by the San Francisco 49ers. Stokes spent an undistinguished eight years in San Francisco in the shadows of Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens, never making a single Pro Bowl or even surpassing 770 yards receiving.
- In the same 1995 Draft, Kiper had rated BYU Quarterback John Walsh as a first round pick. Walsh declared for the draft after his Junior season and had an abysmal NFL combine where he ran a 5.3 forty yard dash and displayed a weak arm in workouts. Nonetheless, Kiper still rated Walsh as a late first/early second round pick on the day of the draft and said he would be a perfect fit for a "West Coast Offense" team like the San Francisco 49ers because of his accuracy on short passes. Walsh slid all the way to the seventh round where he was finally taken by the Cincinnati Bengals. He never appeared in a single game for the quarterback needy Bengals and was out of football less than a year later.
- One example of Kiper getting a player correct in the 1995 draft was when he asserted that Notre Dame defensive back Bobby Taylor, a college free safety, would make an excellent cornerback in the NFL because of his ability to match up with larger wide receivers. Kiper had Taylor rated as one of his top 10 prospects in the draft, and though Taylor wasn't drafted until the second round by the Philadelphia Eagles, he went on to have a long and distinguished career just as Kiper said he would.
- In 1998 Kiper said that Washington State Quarterback Ryan Leaf's "attitude" (which had rubbed teammates and coaches the wrong way in college) would be an asset in the NFL and give him a mental advantage over Peyton Manning. Kiper also said that Leaf had the better natural physical tools and would be a great quarterback, though he still rated Manning as the more polished and better overall prospect. Leaf was chosen second overall by the San Diego Chargers immediately after Manning. Leaf's career soon imploded, largely because of a confrontational attitude and poor practice habits that alienated teammates, coaches, and fans. He is now regarded as not only the worst bust in NFL draft history, but also possibly the biggest bust in all of professional sports. His story is viewed as a cautionary tale of what can happen when a team attempts to build around a player with raw talent but questionable attitude.
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