NFL

Mel Kiper Jr. Is Betting $5,000 That This Will Happen in the NFL

Mel Kiper Jr. may be the best-known draft analyst in the business, but his biggest rival at ESPN has called him out on one of his predictions. It’s resulted in a $5,000 wager regarding the order in which quarterbacks are selected in the 2020 NFL draft in Las Vegas.

Mel Kiper Jr. knows his way around the draft

No one is more synonymous with the annual NFL draft than Mel Kiper Jr., who has been part of ESPN’s coverage every year since 1984, projecting teams’ needs and dissecting the strengths and weaknesses of the top prospects coming out of college.

Kiper’s network biography boasts that his predictions are frequently the most accurate in the business. His mock drafts are among the most-often cited projections as football junkies fill the void between the Super Bowl and the draft.

Kiper reportedly watches as many as 25 college games each week while evaluating prospects and he has numerous connections to NFL scouts and college coaches, further enhancing his ability to evaluate players and project where they will be selected.

Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have a big disagreement

Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay frequently appear together on ESPN in analyzing top college football prospects. Their take on players is frequently similar, but professional pride is on the line when they disagree.

Their most recent disagreement came to light this month while evaluating the deep quarterback class available in the 2020 NFL draft, which begins April 23 in Las Vegas. Kiper and McShay have locked horns on Justin Herbert of Oregon and Jordan Love of Utah State.

Kiper is on record as saying Herbert is the third-best quarterback available this spring and could be one of the first five selections overall. McShay believes that Love’s skills are a better fit for the way the NFL game is played and consequently thinks Herbert will be taken lower — perhaps even in the second half of the first round.

“Don’t throw Love into this conversation with Herbert and think that people around the league have the same grade on him because the people I talk to there’s a big disparity there,” Kiper warned McShay.

McShay countered by accusing Kiper of living in the Stone Age.

Neither is backing down, resulting in a bet that they announced Friday. If Herbert is selected before Love, McShay will donate $5,000 to The Jimmy V Foundation. If Love comes off the board first, Kiper will make the contribution.

Breaking down Justin Herbert vs. Jordan Love

Football observers have come to a consensus that quarterback Joe Burrow of LSU will be selected first overall in the NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. With medical exams conducted at the NFL Scouting Combine indicating that Tua Tagovailoa’s surgically repaired hip is OK, the Alabama QB might go as high as No. 2 overall to the Washington Redskins or via a trade.

The picture gets murkier from there because there’s a no guarantee the New York Giants will stay at the No. 4 spot, perhaps playing the Miami Dolphins, Las Angeles Chargers, and Las Vegas Raiders off against one another for the right to move up and be assured of landing the next-best quarterback.

Just whom that quarterback might be is at the heart of the disagreement between Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay of ESPN.

Justin Herbert of Oregon improved noticeably from his freshman to sophomore seasons and at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds has the prototypical body long coveted in quarterbacks. He gets high marks for arm strength both from the pocket and on the run but also has a penchant for throwing too high.

Jordan Love of Utah State has similar size but is coming off a season in which there were questions about whether he regressed. Utah State overhauled its offense after the 2018 season, so concerns about accuracy and slower decision-making may be unfounded. His draft status will be determined by whether teams give more weight to a season of film or to the in-person evaluations at the NFL Scouting Combine and campus workouts.