AFC North mailbag
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
We have lots of mail to catch up on, and I'm trying to answer as many as possible.
Let's dig into some more questions.
Jason from Knoxville, TN writes: Hey James, with the Pro Bowl...how is it that the Ravens' defense got more players into the Pro Bowl over the Steelers' #1 rated defense? Lamarr Woodley not going? Ike Taylor gets hidden in the shadows? What's the deal James?
James Walker: What's up, J. Mills? Overall ranking is not the only determining factor. Pittsburgh was the No. 1 defense in the NFL, but Baltimore was No. 2. I don't think it's an injustice that the Ravens got one more player into the Pro Bowl than the Steelers. The swing vote went to Baltimore linebacker/defensive end Terrell Suggs, who just beat out Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley. Otherwise, Pittsburgh would have had one more defensive player in Hawaii.
Gregory from White Plains writes: Everette Brown: Todd McShay has the Browns taking Brown with the 5 overall pick. Please please please tell me they are not actually considering this. We already tried this with Wimbley and it clearly has not worked out. They wouldn't really try to convert another pass rushing DE from Fl St. to an OLB again would they? I think we've endured enough pain as fans without doing this twice. On a better note: any ideas about who they might be looking at, or even if they might be trying to trade down?
James Walker: It's hard to tell what the new regime in Cleveland is thinking at the moment, Gregory, because it's still putting together a coaching and scouting staff. So I would assume this team is still far from decided its direction in the draft, especially before the combine. But Brown is a possibility because Cleveland needs dynamic talent on defense. Brown is versatile and can play both defensive end and outside linebacker, and you need those players in a 3-4 defense. Just because he's from Florida State, that shouldn't be held against him.
Matt from Rancho Cucamonga, CA writes: Hey James, love the coverage you give to the AFC North. With the free agents for the steelers i see them resigning McFadden and either Max Starks or Chris Kemoatu. My question is who do you see them signing as the back up quarterback, Leftwich or Batch or neither?
James Walker: Thanks, Matt. Byron Leftwich likely will not return as he is seeking a starting job or at least a chance to start elsewhere. Charlie Batch is a good possibility to sign a one-year deal. He knows the system. The only question is where is his health at this point coming off a collarbone injury?
Todd from Encinitas, CA writes: Mr. Walker, any guesses on what happens with LeCharles Bentley in 2009? Thanks
James Walker: Todd, it's probably a 50-50 chance Bentley returns to football. His life was literally in danger in Cleveland dealing with the multiple surgeries resulting from staph, and going through that plus the business side of football has really soured him on returning. Teams also are questioning his health, which makes it a two-way street.
Brian from Latrobe writes: What are the Steelers chances of getting Larry Johnson? I know the Steelers usually don't get "trouble makers" but Johnson is the type of back they need.
James Walker: I don't see it, Brian. Johnson's downhill style would fit, but he costs a lot of money and doesn't seem to fit the Pittsburgh mold inside the locker room. Plus, the Steelers already have a deep running back core with Willie Parker, Mewelde Moore, Gary Russell and the return of 2008 first-round pick Rashard Mendenhall, who should develop into a solid player in his second year.