Wednesday, April 28, 2010
AFC North mailbag
By James Walker
Now that the NFL draft is over, let's begin to look ahead to the 2010 season.
Dave from Springfield, NJ, wants to know what's next for the Baltimore Ravens at cornerback.
James Walker: The Ravens couldn't fill every hole in the draft, Dave. But the Ravens are in a tricky spot here. They have cornerbacks. The team just isn't sure Lardarius Webb and/or Fabian Washington will be ready for Week 1 after knee surgeries. What happens if the team invests a lot in a veteran corner and one or both of its injured players return? That's what Baltimore has to weigh right now. Here is a list of what's currently available.
Apple Marshall from Fort Washington, MD, is curious about how much will rust be an issue for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger when he returns from his suspension.
Walker: Ap, we go way back, so what's good with you? I appreciate you checking out the blog. Rust will definitely be an issue for Roethlisberger. The key is he cannot practice with the Steelers during his suspension, and more than anything that will impact his timing. Roethlisberger has a lot of changes at receiver this year, including new players like Antwaan Randle El, Emmanuel Sanders and Arnaz Battle. Even Mike Wallace has just one season under his belt and is growing his chemistry with Roethlisberger. So "Big Ben" could use the missing practice reps. But in terms of the playoffs, if the Steelers go .500 with their backup quarterback during Roethlisberger's suspension, they still have a good chance at a wild card. But if Pittsburgh starts 1-5 or 2-4, for example, they probably couldn't recover.
OhioJukeJoint from Twitter wants to know what does the Cincinnati Bengals' first-round pick of tight end Jermaine Gresham mean for Chase Coffman?
Walker: It means the Bengals now have competition, OJJ, and competition is always a good thing. Barring injury, I project Gresham to beat out Coffman and be a Week 1 starter for Cincinnati. Gresham should be a problem for a lot of defenses this year. The Bengals recently gave lip service of how confident they were in Coffman. But I prefer to follow a team's actions, and Cincinnati taking a tight end in the first round spoke volumes.
Big Norm from Chillicothe, Ohio, writes: Do you agree with the Browns decision to take Joe Haden over Earl Thomas?
Walker: I really like Joe Haden, Big Norm, and I think he has potential to be a really good cornerback. So in the long run, I understand Cleveland's thinking. But for a struggling team like the Browns, I'm not sure taking a player who might start at No. 7 was the best idea. If the Browns graded Haden a 93 and Thomas a 91, for example, I would have filled the much bigger need. Cleveland wound up drafting two more safeties after skipping over Thomas, including someone many considered a second-round reach in T.J. Ward. So I think Thomas could have prevented that. But Haden and Thomas should both have good careers, and down the road that's probably all that matters.