Chat with Matt Williamson
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson will stop by to chat some NFL.
Williamson has been scouting football players at different levels for six years. Before joining ESPN and Scouts Inc. in 2005, he was both an NFL and college scout for the Cleveland Browns. Before that, he spent three seasons as assistant recruiting coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh and followed J.D. Brookhart from Pitt to the University of Akron, where Williamson was the director of football operations.
Send your questions now and join Williamson Wednesday at noon ET!
Matt Williamson (11:56 AM)
Alright Folks, let's do this.
How do you like the Falcons future? SHould I be worried about Ryan? Is Curtis Lofton the real deal?
Matt Williamson (11:58 AM)
Very much believe in Lofton as the real deal and I feel pretty much the same with Ryan as well. The thing about Ryan is that he is not tremendously physically gifted-so that could limit his ceiling to some degree. He was very up and down this year, but also played well in the clutch and could use help from another WR. I am not as high on him now as I was one year ago, but I still have faith in both and see ATL as a contender next year if they can add two D starters-CB and DE would be ideal and maybe add another WR to the equation.
Caleb (Los Angeles)
Matt I know you weren't impressed with Shonn Greene coming out of Iowa, but any Hawkeyes fan could have told you he was going to be an awesome running back in the pros. Best example is the Purdue game, throws a spin move on a safety then outraces the secondary for an eighty yard touchdown, then blows up the same safety at the line of scrimmage and runs in for TD number 2. What game tape were you watching?
Matt Williamson (12:01 PM)
I really worried about his speed and ability to get to the corner at this level-as compared to other top draft pick RBs. That isn't to say that I thought he couldn't play at this level, but I didn't see early round skills-he did go in Round 3 by the way. He has proven me wrong. No question about it. Big fan of his now and think he is the future of the Jets' running game. Great balance and power. Better burst than I remember. This isn't a knock in him at all, but I also think he is a fresher football player right now than T Jones or really anyone else on the field-as he was used very little the first half of the season.
Matt, will Chris Johnson's and Jamaal Charles' brillance help the draft status of other "smaller backs" like CJ Spiller and Jahvid Best?
Matt Williamson (12:03 PM)
I do think so. I also don't think many teams are going to look at these guys as the only option for their backfield and will look to pair them with a bigger complementary RB. But, with the smaller guy as the primary ball carrier instead of the other way around. This is becoming more and more of a passing league and having guys like R Bush (for example) who can play WR as well as they do RB (or maybe better in Bush's case) gives the O a lot of options for creating mismatches against LBs in base D personnel.
Love your work, but I'm not too impressed by your eye for RB talent. You weren't impressed by Greene, you called Jamaal Charles a change-of-pace back, yet you think LeSean McCoy is good despite showing nothing behind an excellent oline.
Matt Williamson (12:07 PM)
I still don't think Charles is a 20+ carries guy at this level and in fact, he is dealing with a ton of small injuries right now after being used so heavily to finish this season. That doesn't mean that he is not a great player or a key guy for an O. Everyone would love to have him-but at that end-of-year pace (& C Johnson's pace this year) I would worry about him long term. I will be the first to say that Greene and Charles have exceeded my expectations. I also will say that I never really talked negatively about Charles except to say that he isn't a true lead RB-which I still believe. Doing it for 16 games for a few years in a row is not an easy task-esp if you are only 200 lbs. As for McCoy-it is still very early. Extremely young NFL player. I also have doubts about him as a true bell cow guy as well, but I do think that he will/does fit what Andy Reid wants from that position.
Why dont teams get a nickel safety that can run down the middle of the field instead of the MLB it seems as if Cover 2 would be better served with an Adrian Wilson type in the middle of the field instead of Brian Urlacker or Keith Bullock or Lawrence Timmons?
Matt Williamson (12:08 PM)
I see what you are saying, but you still need to play the position against the run. MLB is a tackling machine in the Tampa 2 and it takes a rare guy to be able to do everything that position demands. Plus, there are not a ton of A Wilson types floating around!
Mike (Boca Raton)
Was the GB/AZ game a true indication of what the NFL has become? If so, that really sucks.
Matt Williamson (12:09 PM)
Maybe a very strong extreme of what it has become/will become. And yes, I do find that worrisome. Just so many rules/advantages for the offense. Plus, I feel like in terms of coaching, the passing game O coaches are ahead of the D guys right now. But that seems to go in cycles when analyzing the history of this league.
Mike (Boca Raton)
Hate to admit it, but the Baltimore running game was really impressive. Do you think that the Ravens utilize McClain as a runner as much as they should?
Matt Williamson (12:12 PM)
It was awesome this past week and overall, that run game is awfully impressive. Do they utilize McClain enough? That is hard to say, as I don't want Rice to get any fewer carries-that is for sure. McGahee also seems to have really found a niche in this O as a goal line guy and #2. I like the way McClain runs the ball-esp last year-but just how many carries can me possibly get? RBs get hurt though and surely McClain's time will come again over the next several years.
Hey Matt love your work, do you think that Al Davis will ever hire someone to help him with the 1st few rounds of the draft? He still has a good eye for late round talent, but his 1st round picks have cripled his team.
Matt Williamson (12:13 PM)
It has been brutal. Will he wise up and give that responsibility to someone else? I surely have my doubts.
M-Dub Philly fans are so smart why did Reid get an extension, trade McNabb, I've read & heard it all yet none has asked how to assemble an O-line... McNabb was running for his life all game.
Matt Williamson (12:16 PM)
That OL has been a massive disappointment and Jason Peters really got his butt whooped by Ware. There have been injuries up front, but still, this has been the biggest let down for me. Although running the ball once in a while would surely help-in many regards. As for Reid and McNabb-I honestly don't think you can do better. Think they are going to hire Cowher? I bet about 22 teams in this league and many fans reading this chat would trade their Head Coach/QB combo in a minute for Reid and McNabb.
Do you think Minnesota and Dallas lines match up? One of the ESPN analysts says Minnesota doesn't match up at all. Has he not heard of the Williamses or Jared Allen just to name a couple?? The Vikings didn't get as far as they have by having an obsolete line.
Matt Williamson (12:17 PM)
I respect Minny quite a bit, but I am taking Dallas in this one. I agree on the Vikes DL vs. Cowboys' OL. I give that edge to Minny-but not by a ton, as the Cowboys have been outstanding up front of late in both facets. But, Flozell is going to have a long day. False Starts and Holding penalties galore. On the other side, I give a huge advantage to the Cowboys' front over Minny's OL, which I think is actually a liability and is vastly overrated.
CJ Spiller is perfect for the Giants at 15.... Eli needs a security blanket out of the backfield and special teams needs a threat.... their D can be fixed by coaching you agree?
Matt Williamson (12:19 PM)
I don't agree with your points about the D, although Spiller would be a great addition to that team. I think they have to go D early in this draft, particularly LB and Safety. Their LBs look very slow to me and really have had trouble in coverage. They get Phillips back at S-and that should help a lot-but another legit starter back there would sure be helpful.
Mike (Boca Raton)
Are you as impressed with Green Bay's receiving corps as me? Any chance they dangle some of that as trade bait in the offseason for perhaps some O-line help?
Matt Williamson (12:22 PM)
It is a great group and honestly, J Finley isn't that far from being the most dangerous TE in the entire league. Driver won't be around forever though. Jennings is tremendous, despite a somewhat down year. I hear in saying (I think) that you would like to see more of Nelson and Jones-can't argue that. But who do you deal? I would imagine it would be Nelson or Jones. Do you get a 2nd round pick for one of them? Just a guess, but does that make GBay a better team for the now? They are a contender who isn't going to lose much this offseason. They are built for the long haul. OT is a need for sure, but I contend that one more CB is maybe just as much of a need.
Matt Williamson (12:22 PM)
Not bad problems to have though if you are GBay.
Matt Williamson (12:22 PM)
Drafting as well as they have of late surely has its benefits. Example: unlike NEng, who really hasn't done that great of a job on DDay of late.
I am glad you made the distinction, "with the smaller guy as the primary ball carrier instead of the other way around." The issue I had with your earlier analysis of JC was that change-of-pace back has such an ugly connotation.
Matt Williamson (12:24 PM)
It does. Like "System QB" or "Possession WR". In a way, Larry Fitzgerald is a Possession WR. Sometimes these terms sounds worse than I (or other analysts I assume) mean them to be.
which pass catching core including tight end would you want for the next 5 years?..... Giants... 49ers... Packers... Eagles... or Jets
Matt Williamson (12:25 PM)
Not the Jets at all. they are last. GBay is 1. Giants are fourth, as I am not sold that they have a true #1 WR and Boss brings them down to me. Tough call for
Why are all the coaching canidates avoiding the Bills job like a fat chick at a dance?
Matt Williamson (12:27 PM)
Terrible job in my opinion. Very old owner. Instability with the future of the team in its current city. Not exactly the most attractive place to go for free agents, especially young men who played in the SEC for example. But most important, their QB situation is a nightmare, they need two starting caliber OTs and another WR. That is just the O needs. No thanks.
M.C. Rauh (Buffalo, NY)
I know the Bills need a coach but who do they target in the Draft? OT, LB, SS, or even WR?
Matt Williamson (12:27 PM)
HAS to be QB or OT.
Do you really think the Giants can rely on Kenny Phillips? 22 with debilitating arthritis?..... he may never play again
Matt Williamson (12:29 PM)
That is very true. Hard for me to act as a doctor, but yes, that would worry me for sure! Back to that former Spiller question-drafting a guy like him is just too much of a luxury for a team like the Giants right now. Which brings up another point about guys like Spiller and Chris Johnson (late first rounder). Who can actually pull the trigger on one of those guys? Few teams have massive RB needs on DDay, but most teams have glaring needs at at least one other position. When you look at them on DDay, they are really luxury type guys. Not saying that they are not valuable.
Mike (San Diego)
M-Dub..not sure if I can make the chat. But, I called the Iggles/Pokes game last week...almost right on, had I picked the Pokes! Anyway, lack of crow out here, so can I sub in a Seagall?
Matt Williamson (12:30 PM)
I am cool with that. Hey, picking games isn't easy. I took NEng, GBay, Dallas and the Jets last week. This week I am taking Indy, NYJ (really), Dallas and Zona. Tough business.
Do you agree with Wade Phillips decision to insert Columbo back into the lineup. Columbo is very solid, but Free offers what few OTs can, the athleticism to get to the 2nd level and block smaller defenders on the move, which has even more value considering Felix likes to run outside.
Matt Williamson (12:32 PM)
Once again, great problem to have and I could see Free as the starting LT next year perhaps. Columbo and Free are very different like you said, but Columbo was the incumbent and he certainly brings a real nasty edge to his game that I think sets the tone for that entire line. Older guy with more leadership skills. It is hard to nit pick the Cowboys' O, but they seem like a prime team to run more 6 OL formations, which has become so popular in the NFL of late.
Larry (Pasco, WA)
The Jets seem to be the hot topic of the week. Are the Chargers in real trouble in dealing with the Jets at home after a bye?
Matt Williamson (12:35 PM)
I am picking New York. Don't get me wrong though, I am not betting my kids' college funds on it and I do think SD is the better football team. But here are my concerns for SD: I think New York will run all over them. Really dictate the flow and tempo of this game behind Mangold and company. Shorten the game. I also think Revis eliminates V Jackson, who I love. Gates could do a lot of damage and SD is excellent at accounting for the blitzes they surely will see, but I just see Rivers with a frustrated look on his face as T Jones and S Greene pound out 3, 4, and 5 yard gains on the ground over and over and over.
If Suh is gone at pick #2 and the Lions think Eric Berry is the BPA should they take him?
Matt Williamson (12:36 PM)
From what I know about the draft at this point, Detroit should take Berry or McCoy at #2. If by chance Suh is there, he should be the pick, but I am not sure sure that McCoy is all that far behind him. McCoy is quite a penetrator and disruptor inside. Berry and Delmas would make a great safety tandem for years to come, but to me, DT is more important and would make those around him better quicker. Plus, remember Schwartz had Big Al in Tenn.
Will Indy move Dallas and Collie around more often to mismatch any linebackers attempting to cover?
Matt Williamson (12:38 PM)
Surely. I love the way that Balt played last week and I do think their overall physicality and grit could give the rested (too rested?) Colts early troubles, but in the end, I don't know how that secondary and LBs match up with all of Manning's weapons. Clark is always a nightmare from that perspective. Detach him. Motion him.
Mike (Boca Raton)
Have you seen enough film to offer a perspective on USC S Taylor Mays moving to LB in the NFL?
Matt Williamson (12:40 PM)
I won't get into serious draft prep until after the season-and I promise to hit it hard as always, but from what I have seen of Mays, he really worries me. Seems very straight linish. But for LB, he is a taller guy who doesn't look to be able to take on guards and FBs at this level. Maybe at WLB for Indy or another run and hit group, but his angles in pursuit seem very questionable and of course, you are projecting a guy to a new position which adds to the bust factor.
Excellent point about Free providing Dallas the opportunity to run a 6 oline formation. The guy is a freak. Did you see his week 17 block 40 yards down the field on Felix Jones' TD run.
Matt Williamson (12:41 PM)
Yes. Great stuff. I saw Free as the ideal #3 OT-not quite quick and light enough on his feet for LT, but not quite physical mauling enough for RT. But now, after seeing him during that stint, I think he can start at either spot and do quite well. Has progressed well since entering the league.
Matt, do you agre that Steve Breaston could be a #1 WR on more than half the teams in the NFL? The kid is really good and only #3 on AZ b/c of Fitz and Bolden. Your thoughts?
Matt Williamson (12:42 PM)
He is really good. I am reluctant to call many WRs a true #1, but I see Stevie as an ideal
Matt Williamson (12:43 PM)
Benjamin from Albany, I just pulled up your mock. Will peak at it this afternoon. Thanks for the kind words as well.
Kudos for being the 1st to point out that any team who gets Gerald McCoy isn't settling for an average player. McCoy has been dominant for 3 years and will match Suh's pro-bowls.
Matt Williamson (12:45 PM)
Might be better than Suh. Gasp! Hey, I am not saying he will be, but Suh isn't perfect either. Suh gets a lot of his sacks by brute force and overpowering Big 12 interior OLinemen. Think that will work against the Carolina Panthers or Tennessee Titans? Not nearly as often. Still, the point is, both are tremendous prospects and if you can get a true stud DT-you always do it. Other than QB, DT is the position I want to build around.
Tim (Portland, ME)
Hi Matt, I really like your analyses when I see them in James Walker's blog. My question concerns the Steelers CBs. How do they rate as starters in your opinion, and who do you think might be a good free agent CB that could possibly sign with the Steelers? Thanks.
Matt Williamson (12:47 PM)
I bet secondary help comes via the draft. In the perfect world, I Taylor would be your #2 (eventually) until a first round pick type grows into the
Ted (San Diego, CA)
Wow. It apparently doesn't take much for the folks at ESPN to buy into some NY based hype. The Jets have had a nice run, beating the disintegrating Bengals twice and the Cots' second-teamers, but they had 7 losses for a reason.
Matt Williamson (12:49 PM)
The Jets are very flawed-at QB. And like I said last week, Sanchez might throw four or five INTs this week and lose the game for the Jets. Can't hide your QB at this level. He did play well last week and maybe that is a great first step towards progress. We shall see. I also said that SD is a better team than the Jets-but they don't match up real well. I also think that the Jets are amongst the very best coached teams in this league. If/when NYJ travels to Indy, I will take the Colts big.
Strongly disagree on Breaston. He looks best suited for the slot. Doucet is the guy who would run the underneath stuff ala Boldin and Fitzgerald is the ultimate #1.
Matt Williamson (12:51 PM)
He was saying on another team. I see Doucet taking the Boldin role though next year-agreed-but having a guy like Breaston allows you to deal Boldin. Of course Fitz is the ultimate #1 and he makes the whole thing go. Side note: if Warner retires, it might not matter if you have Fitz, J Rice and TO in his prime at WR. Just sayin
Robbie (Long Island, NY)
The Jets have far exceeded expectations without the help of Leon Washington or Kris Jenkins, if both were still active would the Jets be considered the team to beat having a three headed monster of TJ, Green and Neon Leon? and probably one of the most domninating NT's in the game?
Matt Williamson (12:54 PM)
No question. Jenkins is a big time stud. They have gotten a lot more than expected from the replacement NTs and have schemed around his absence very well...which goes back to coaching. To me, long term, what NYJ really needs to have Sanchez grow up properly and keep improving. Maybe a WR if Braylon leaves-or stays. A 2nd CB could make this D really nasty. I also must say that they prob don't make the playoffs if they weren't handed the last two games of the regular season, but what they did last week was impressive, as was what you said with their injuries. SD lost J Williams and injuries happen to everyone. Plus, Cincy was also extremely unimpressive last week and of late in general. Still, taking Gang Green this week.
M-Dub in regards to the Eagles is it now time for them get a legit RB who can tote the rock 25 to 30 times a game if need be, & what should they do with Westbrook??...doubt he's still the answer.
Matt Williamson (12:55 PM)
Like LT and Portis, I think Westbrook's time is done. Adios. Sorry to say it. But yes, adding a 230 lbs RB to put with McCoy and Weaver would be great...but only if you stick with calling run plays.
I think Fitz's ability to attack deep balls at their highest point and YAC ability makes him more than a possession WR... not this season mind you but overall
Matt Williamson (12:56 PM)
Of course he is more than the typical definition of a possession WR, but I was just glorifying my point about how some terms are unjustifiably construed as negative.
Jeff (San Diego)
You think "New York will run all over the Chargers?" The Chargers D is 10th against the run in the last 11 games. Sounds like you are getting sucked into the Rex Ryan vortex
Matt Williamson (12:57 PM)
Cincy was good against the run too. Mangold will kill the Chargers' 4th sting NT. From there, I like the Jets chances. Its not personal Jethro and like I said, not betting the kids' college funds on it.
M-Dub in regards to Defensive Player of the Year who in your opinion deserved the award? I thought it was too close to call the stats were there for Woodson, but the WRs Revis matched up against????
Matt Williamson (12:58 PM)
I would have voted for Revis. Woodson was great, but his role lended him to have superior stats to make his case. I just think what Revis did was harder and more important to his team.
Matt - love your work, are you going to be chattin during the Cowboys/Minny game again?
Matt Williamson (12:59 PM)
I will be on Saturday for the entire second game and from 3:00 to close on Sunday. That Cover it Live forum is pretty cool for those you who haven't ventured in yet. Check it out.
Matt Williamson (1:00 PM)
Okay, on that last bit of self promotion, I am out. Great chat folks. I wrote up both NFC games for Scouts Inc-check those out as well. Enjoy the games and take care.
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