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 4 p.m. ET!
James Walker (4:00 PM)
Good afternoon, everyone. Let's talk about the AFC North.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What AFC North Teams did the Best & the Worst in the NFL Draft?
James Walker (4:02 PM)
Chris, this was one of the rare years where I thought all four AFC North teams did a good job of filling needs and adding talent. I don't like grading drafts right after it happens. But on paper all four look solid.
Steve (Findlay, OH)
james, how good do you think the browns DL can be now with rubin and taylor in the middle?
James Walker (4:04 PM)
It's a young duo and both will be learning a new system. Rubin is switching from a 3-4 and Taylor is a rookie in the NFL. The key for both will be to control the line of scrimmage. They need to keep blockers off the linebackers so they could make plays.
If Colt has a bad year what would it take to get Luck in next years draft since we have the extra first round pick?
James Walker (4:06 PM)
I don't like to project things beyond this year. But it would take a complete disaster of a season, something like 2-14, to get the No. 1 pick, where Andrew Luck is probably going barring injury. As far as draft trades, that's way to early to speculate.
How much harder is your job when there's nothing to cover?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
Melliott74, I see my suggestion of getting you back on the blog hasn't helped. Naturally, it's a challenge writing about the NFL during the lockout. But I cover football for a living. I don't have anything to complain about.
Josh Wilson or Chris Carr who stays on the Ravens?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
There is a chance that neither returns, but I would lean now towards Chris Carr, because he could be cheaper.
The Bengals really gonna force Carson Palmer to retire?
James Walker (4:13 PM)
Their most recent public comments suggested that was the case. But the Bengals have drafted QB Andy Dalton and to some degree appears ready to move on. Still, it's unclear if their stance has changed with Palmer at this point.
How dynamic do you think the duo of Peyton Hillis and Owen Marecic be in Cleveland's back field? Better than vickers/hillis?
James Walker (4:15 PM)
I won't make any determination on Marecic until I've seen him play at the NFL level. The Browns like him, but he has big shoes to fill. I've watched Lawrence Vickers the past few seasons and he's one of the top fullbacks in the league, IMO.
Brett (Avon Lake, OH)
How truly different will the Browns offense be under Shurmur than Brian Daboll?
James Walker (4:19 PM)
For one the system will be different. The West Coast offense is very successful if run properly and it fits what QB Colt McCoy does best. So from a system perspective alone, I think the Browns have a better chance of success. The players are a different story. I still think Cleveland is lacking talent in certain areas on offense and it will be up to Pat Shurmur to get the most out of what he has.
James, with Pittsburgh drafting an tackle in the 2nd round this year does that mean they have given up on bringing along Tony Hills?
James Walker (4:21 PM)
I've never been that high on Hills from what I've seen in training camp and some in the preseason. He just didn't jump out as a guy who could be a starter. It looks like Pittsburgh is tired of waiting and want to see if Marcus Gilbert can develop into a long-term answer there at tackle.
jmo (bed stuy)
Is it really about talent or money on the Vickers situation? I've always thought he's had pretty reliable hands, when given the opportunity to use them, so I don't understand why they wouldn't try to keep him.
James Walker (4:23 PM)
The Browns haven't said anything about Vickers publicly, but my assumption is they don't feel he fits in their offense. I spoke to Vickers about a week ago and he said he wasn't sure why they haven't shown interest in re-signing him.
James, What you do think of the WR Greg Little the Browns drafted this year, don't know much about him, can he develop into a #1?
James Walker (4:26 PM)
I like the pick. Big, physical receiver who fits what the Browns want to do. The only concern is he didn't play all last year via suspension. It's too early to say if he's a No. 1 WR. But I think he's good enough as a rookie to push what they already have there in Cleveland, which is progress.
Do you think a healthy Jarret Johnson is the answer to Baltimore's pass rushing issue? Ozzie seems to think so.
James Walker (4:28 PM)
Johnson is solid, always has been. At times he is their best pass rusher. But I still think Baltimore needed more. Johnson is not a guy who's going to give you 15 sacks. He will do his job against the run, don't make a lot of mistakes, and give you maybe six or seven sacks along the way. The Ravens need another double-digit threat opposite Terrell Suggs.
Chances Vickers wears purple and black next year compared to Willis or McClain?
James Walker (4:30 PM)
Too early to say because teams can't and won't talk about players/free agents. But I think Vickers would be a good fit if Baltimore chooses to pursue him.
Ruben (Rancho Cucamunga, California)
Will sergio Kindle ever pan out for the Ravens?
James Walker (4:33 PM)
Sergio Kindle has to get healthy and on the field. That's the first order of business. I like what he brought to the table in college, and he's one of those players who can help the pass rush. But until he's medically cleared, it's hard to say.
Doug (Chardon OH)
Why did the Browns take a TE in the 4th round
James Walker (4:37 PM)
The Browns liked Jordan Cameron's raw ability. He's a former basketball player, so he has a lot to learn. But that worked out for other TEs like Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez. My complaint with the pick, though, is Cleveland has two pretty solid tight ends already in Ben Watson and Evan Moore. It's one of the few positions the Browns have depth. Why not help another area?
Who do you think would be the starting corner for the Steelers if Ike Taylor isn't resigned?
James Walker (4:38 PM)
James Walker (4:39 PM)
Just kidding, other than McFadden it will be an open competition between Keenan Lewis, Crezdon Butler and the two rookies.
James Walker (4:39 PM)
The Steelers may also look in free agency, although they don't have much of a history going out and getting a big-name player.
Better offseason, Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu?
James Walker (4:41 PM)
Troy Reed had the best offseason. I'm told he split time working out with college kids at USC and Miami to get ready for the upcoming season.
will you be surprised if the steelers get asomugha even though that will likely not happen?
James Walker (4:44 PM)
Everyone should stop with the Nnamdi to Pittsburgh questions. I think I'm going to do a photoshop of Nnamdi in a Steelers uni -- similar to Cam Newton with the Bengals -- just to tease Steeler Nation in the blog.
Will Ray Rice be more involved in Ravens offense in 2011?
James Walker (4:46 PM)
Yes, the Ravens really want to improve their running game. Rice rushed for 1,200 yards, but there were too many weeks he was ignored in the offense. I think Baltimore was confused all year of whether it was a pass-first or run-first team.
Will the Bengals finally cut ties with Ocho?
James Walker (4:48 PM)
Most likely yes if this lockout ends anytime soon. Trading him may be tough. But Chad wants out and I think the coaching staff is tired of his antics without the big production to match.
Blake (dayton, oh)
Is the bengals secondary good enough to cover 3 or 4 receiver sets without joseph? Hall, Jones, Trent, Ghee?
James Walker (4:52 PM)
Johnathan Joseph is their best corner, so it will hurt. But the Bengals liked what they saw from Adam Jones before he got hurt last season. I doubt the Bengals will overpay to keep Joseph.
If Ocho gets released or traded, what do you think the chances of baltimore taking him are?
James Walker (4:55 PM)
I don't see that. Baltimore has a good mix of veterann receivers and young draft picks to develop. It's not a good fit.
Should the Bengals resign Cedric Benson after a down year, 3.5 ypc vs 4.9 for 2nd RB Bernard Scott, or be first on the phone to sign Jon Clay?
James Walker (4:57 PM)
The Bengals are counting on it. Benson didn't feel he was properly used in Bob Bratkowski's offense, so I think he's more open to coming back under Jay Gruden. But Benson is getting to the age where RBs start to hit the wall, so the Bengals need to be careful not to overspend.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for your time. Remember to check out the AFC North blog and AFC North Twitter for constant updates on the division.