Chat with James Walker
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com AFC North blogger James Walker will stop by to chat about the NFL and what to expect from your team.
Walker joined ESPN.com in 2008 after three seasons covering the Cleveland Browns for the Columbus Dispatch.
Send your questions now and join James Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET!
James Walker (5:01 PM)
It's been a crazy couple of days in the AFC North. So let's discuss.
Thoughts on who the Steelers matchup best with in each round?
James Walker (5:03 PM)
The Steelers matchup well with every team, in my opinion, except the Patriots. The Ravens are always tough, but I think that game could go either way. The Colts and Chiefs would favor the Steelers.
7 NFL teams finished with a 6-10 record. How are their picks determined in the 2011 NFL draft? Is it opponents winning percentage or something else?
James Walker (5:04 PM)
It goes by strength of schedule, Jeremy. The team with the lowest SOS but the same record is considered the weaker team. Therefore, that club would get the highest pick.
who do you think would be the best coach for the browns. also do you believe colt mckoy is the future QB? lastly what are the browns top priorities coming into the draft?
James Walker (5:06 PM)
I wrote yesterday that the best coach for the Browns would be Mike Holmgren. There's not a great chance that will happen. I don't think Holmgren is convinced he can put in the hours anymore. But in terms of pedigree, success, experience, knowing the West Coast offense, I doubt the Browns will be able to find anyone with better credentials.
ron (queen city)
where do the bengals need to focus in the draft?
James Walker (5:09 PM)
The Bengals roster will look very different in April than it does right now once we know who stays and who goes with key veterans. But right now looking at the team, I think it needs another dominant pass rusher, most likely at DE, to go with rookie Carlos Dunlap.
With what seems like a nice young core of players coming into their own, should the browns try and draft a WR with the 6th pick (AJ Green) or try and pick up a proven veteran? Or both?
James Walker (5:12 PM)
Good question, Rob. I've always been against drafting a WR in the top 10. But with the Browns, that is clearly their biggest need. They may need two WRs in the offseason to get up to par, and maybe move Robiskie or Massaquoi to the slot at No. 3. But I'm still not sure you should take that position so high. Give me some time to think that over, because this year may be the exception.
Im a Browns fan. I want Jon Gruden. I know Holmgren is probably interested in him along with many others including Marty Mornhinweg. I understand this will probably be a long process since Mornhinweg can't interview for a while, but do you think it is a possibility Jon Gruden will come out and say either yes or no this week, even before the interview?
James Walker (5:13 PM)
I hate the break it to Browns fans, but Jon Gruden will not take the Cleveland job. I know he has ties to the area and Mike Holmgren. But the truth is Cleveland is just not an attractive job to A-list head coaches who will have their choice of multiple teams to go to.
Did Marvin Lewis get the concessions he wanted from Mike Brown, or did he just cave and sign for more of the same?
James Walker (5:16 PM)
We still don't know the details, but I'm sure we will soon. But I would be shocked if the Bengals hire a GM tomorrow, add 10 new scouts and start contruction on a multi-million dollar indoor practice facility. That's just an educated guess.
Hillis appeared to wear down at the end of the season. How do you think the Browns will use Hardesty next year; is there a time-share in store?
James Walker (5:17 PM)
I liked what I saw from Montario Hardesty in camps, but I need to see him more in games. Eric Mangini was very high on Hardesty and even considered starting him before he got injured.
Rich (New Jersey)
Do you see a Steelers - Ravens match up in the Divisional Playoffs or Conference Championship game?
James Walker (5:19 PM)
It's very possible. The Ravens have to win this week though. K.C. is 7-1 at home this year, so don't overlook this game.
Do you think Marty M would perform better as a HC with a better front office behind him?
James Walker (5:22 PM)
Marty Mornhinweg won five games in two years as a head coach. The Browns just fired a coach who won five games this year alone, and 10 in the past two years. Personally, I'm not sold on that move. But that doesn't mean the Browns wouldn't be.
Has there been any word on Aaron Smith's availability for the postseason?
James Walker (5:24 PM)
I asked Mike Tomlin this after Sunday's game and he said he's pleased with Smith's progress but probably won't know his availability until next week.
Dan (lynchburg va)
Secondary, o line, lack of pass rush, Joe Flacco some. Really, can the Ravens fix all their small problems in time for a playoff run? Or are fans just overreacting to lack of perfection?
James Walker (5:27 PM)
The Ravens have been getting drilled this year, probably more than I've ever seen for a 12-4 team. Baltimore is not perfect. No team is. But the Ravens are entering the playoffs on a four-game winning streak and capable of beating anybody--including the Patriots.
What do you think the Steelers will do with their 1st round pick?
James Walker (5:29 PM)
I think they need more help on the O-line. The Steelers did great by drafting Maurkice Pouncey. Now they need to find a stud guard or tackle. Cornerback also could be an issue if Pittsburgh doesn't re-sign Ike Taylor.
Is it too much to ask to have the Ravens go to NE and win in the divisional round? Not that I really want to see Manning in the 2nd round, but I think the Ravens have a better shot of winning at Gillette than the Colts do in January...
James Walker (5:30 PM)
Of all the teams in the AFC, I think Baltimore has the best chance to knock off New England. The Ravens matchup well with them and are confident they can beat them. It would be a great game.
Going back to your point about drafting receivers high, don't forget some of the VERY best receivers in the league were drafted in the top 5 (Andre, Calvin, Larry). It's boom or bust for sure, but the browns are DESPERATE for a wide receiver.
James Walker (5:34 PM)
I'm not saying prospects at WRs are not great players. All those guys you mentioned are stellar. But the WR position just isn't that important. For example, those are arguably the best at their position. But how many games did their three teams win this year? My point is if you're a bad team picking at the top of the draft, other needs are more important.
Brian (Dayton, Ohio)
Does Chad Ochocinco return to the Bengals for 2011?
James Walker (5:35 PM)
I was favoring "no" before. But with Marvin Lewis coming back, I'd be even more surprised if Cincinnati pays Ochocinco $6 million to return next year.
Austin (Geneva, IL)
Who do you think has a better chance to get to the Superbowl - the Steelers or the Ravens?
James Walker (5:37 PM)
But teams are even, you should always favor the higher seed. The Steelers don't have to play this week and has at least one home game.
Hi can the STEELERS really win in NEW ENGLAND or does BRADY own them, your thoughts?
James Walker (5:40 PM)
Based on this chat, I think Steelers fans need to stop looking past the second round. Pittsburgh will draw a tough opponent in Heinz Field. But if Pittsburgh met NE in the AFC title game, anything is possible in a one-game scenario. But the Patriots would be favored because they're a bad matchup for Pittsburgh.
Jeremy (Chandler AZ)
Do you see the Browns pulling a Ditka and trading up to get Luck and Harbaugh? Or is that just an idea that everyone wants but just wont happen?
James Walker (5:41 PM)
I doubt it. Browns president Mike Holmgren seems pretty confortable with rookie QB Colt McCoy. I don't see Cleveland taking a QB in the first round. The Browns have much bigger needs.
How do you think the Colts will fair against the Jets on Saturday night? With the lack of a pass rush from the Jets, even with a decent secondary, Manning can have his way with the Jets.
James Walker (5:44 PM)
I'm looking forward to this matchup. Peyton Manning in the dome is always tough. But I think the Colts are not as good as they were last year and the Jets are better in some ways. So it should be a very tight game.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What AFC North Team do you think needs a Quarterback in the NFL Draft?
James Walker (5:46 PM)
I think you'll see Cleveland and Cincinnati draft quarterbacks this year, just not very high in the draft. Depending on what the Bengals do with Carson Palmer, they will need either a solid backup and/or someone to groom. Cleveland may be without Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace this year. So Colt McCoy may need company.
Annabeth (Indiana, Pa)
Hey James! It seems like the Steelers are finally heating up on offense. One could argue that it's because they played the panthers and browns in their two last games but I feel like they are all getting on the same page near the end of the season. Are they getting hot at the right time?
James Walker (5:49 PM)
I like what I see from the Steelers' offense. Something that not many people are talking about is the play of the O-line. That group has been banged up and inconsistent all year. But in the past month Pittsburgh's O-line has played its best football of the season.
Tim (Conway, SC)
Huge Steelers fan, also a Coastal Carolina student. Jerome Simpson- what's his future look like in Cinci?
James Walker (5:51 PM)
Jerome Simpson has played his way into the Bengals' plans in 2011. He needs to have a good offseason, but his strong showing will definitely help his standing with the team.
Andrew ((Los Angeles))
Who would be the most favorable match up for Steelers in the 2nd round?
James Walker (5:53 PM)
Kansas City Chiefs. They have little playoff experience, not very good on the road and are primarily a running team. All of this plays right into Pittsburgh's strengths.
Gary (Baton Rouge)
If the Ravens defense had the Jets corners would anybody be able to score at all on them?
James Walker (5:54 PM)
If I had a million dollars I'd be a millionaire, Gary.
Do you think the refs will continue to give all the calls to the Pats and Steelers this year in the playoffs?
James Walker (5:56 PM)
Wow. I actually went a couple weeks without talking about officiating in the blog. I don't want to think about it. Poor officiating makes my head hurt. I seen too many strange calls this year.
Mitch (Seville, OH)
What kind of timeline do the Browns have to work with when it comes to getting a new coach. I know there are a few teams out there looking so doesn't seem like they can drag their feet on this one.
James Walker (5:57 PM)
Browns president Mike Holmgren says he does not have a timeline. But in my opinion, Cleveland has to move fast because there will be several other openings around the NFL. The quicker Cleveland moves, the less competition for these coaches.
James Walker (6:00 PM)
Everyone thanks for your time this week. Remember to check out the AFC North blog and AFC North Twitter for constant updates on the division.