Wednesday, September 9, 2009
AFC North mailbag
By James Walker
Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker
Let’s see what’s in the AFC North mailbag this week.
Hung Phan from Fort Worth, TX wants to know why Cleveland Browns rookie James Davis fell to the sixth round of the NFL draft.
James Walker: There were a few reasons Davis got lost in the mix, Hung. Davis was a potential first-day pick after the 2007 season, but C.J. Spiller’s emergence last year (1,770 all-purpose yards) took reps and carries away from Davis to the point where scouts didn’t pay attention to Clemson’s second-string tailback. When the Tigers had a disappointed season it further forced scouts to look in the other direction. Davis’ speed and 40-time also isn’t something that jumps out at combines, and those factors all contributed to him being a sixth-round pick. But Davis is proving to be a “football player,” which is what matters most.
Craig Myers from Columbus, Ohio wants to know why his city doesn’t cover the Pittsburgh Steelers when “there are 100 times more people…following the Steelers than the Bengals.”
James Walker: Craig, I lived in Columbus for several years and always thought it was an interesting city when it comes to NFL fans. To my understanding, the Browns always had the edge, while the Bengals were a solid or not-so-solid No. 2 depending on how the team performed. There are not “100 times more people following the Steelers” in Columbus. There are plenty of Bengals fans in Columbus, but mostly they’re fringe Bengals fans. By that I mean they’re proud to wear their gear and come out in droves when the team is winning. But you wouldn’t know there were any Bengals fans in Columbus when the team is losing, which is currently the case. It’s easy to hide fandom when you don’t live in the actual city. To your credit, Craig, there are a good number of Steelers fans in Columbus, as well, because it’s one of the few transient and growing cities in Ohio. But it’s not enough to overtake the Browns or Bengals in terms of pure numbers.
Gary from Toledo, Ohio writes: I read the article where Paul Kuharsky "raced" some speedsters from the AFC South. How much of a head start would you need to beat "Fast" Willie Parker, Andre Caldwell, and the other fast guys from the AFC North? Do you think you could take down Kuharsky?
James Walker: Gary, rest assured the AFC North has, by far, the speediest blogger at ESPN.com. If Kuharsky, “Iron” Mike Sando, Matt Mosley or any other divisional blogger want to challenge that claim, they can pick a time and a date. I’m also the youngest so that plays into it. But as far as racing against NFL players, I obviously need a head start but may be able to beat some linemen in a race straight up. I wasn’t a blazer, but I had good enough speed to play four years at cornerback in high school.
Eric from Pacifica, Ca. has high hopes for kick returner Stefan Logan this year and wants my thoughts.
James Walker: If the Steelers put together a stellar return game this year that would be scary. The only glaring weakness I see left on this team is depth on the offensive line.
Troy from York, Pa. wants to know if Kelley Washington would be an upgrade over Demetrius Williams for the No. 3 receiver spot with the Baltimore Ravens.
James Walker: Washington has done well this preseason and should contribute. But Washington’s ceiling as a receiver is not as high as Williams’ is. Athletically, Williams is a better fit as the third receiver for Baltimore with his speed and ability to stretch the field. The coaching staff has confidence in Williams. But what he lacks is avoiding injuries and consistency.