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 (11:52 AM)
Let's get this going a little early today...
Brad Rawlinson (Rock Hill, SC)
I would really like to know how much left you think LT has? Is he still capable of elite production or is last season's production is ceiling?
Matt Williamson (11:54 AM)
What a perfect spot to plug one of my articles. I think it went up yesterday in the AFC West blog, but I just did about 500 words on Tomlinson and what I think he is now as a player. Look it up. But to sum it up...declining.
John (New York )
Do you think the vikings will be better with Favre?
Matt Williamson (11:56 AM)
I think Favre is done. But...if he plays within himself and gets into camp ASAP and gets a decent feel for the O and his pass catchers, then maybe, just maybe, he will be an upgrade over the guys that they have now. Still, not a fan.
Joe (Jersey City)
I love hearing about my team from an independent scout. Tell me something good and something bad you have seen about some of the lesser known Bengals.
Matt Williamson (11:58 AM)
The pass rush still worries me, but I do expect it to be a little better. But, overall, their D should be quite good. The O consistently put the D in very bad situations last season. That shouldn't be the case as much in 2009. That D is very well coached and has an awful lot of promising young talent. Now-a huge concern for me is the center position. The center position you ask? That isn't such a big deal. It is when you play six games every year against H Ngata, C Hampton and S Rogers. Cincy is very weak at the OC position and I don't think their OGs are superb enough to make up for it. Plus, Benson is an interior runner. Bad formula.
Hello, do you see cowboys making the playoffs,how will their offense and defense fair?
Matt Williamson (12:00 PM)
I currently have them third in the NFC East. But still, they are a contender. They can really get after the QB on D-which is huge. I do worry about the DL and secondary depth however. On O, the OL needs to play a little better, but they are still pretty stacked on that side of the ball as well. Picking up Kitna was huge, as obviously B Johnson could not be the slightest bit effective anymore. Expect more running though and I would expect them to feature Felix Jones quite a bit. He is really something.
What does Tim Tebow have to show to be taken seriously as a possible NFL starting QB?
Matt Williamson (12:02 PM)
I haven't studied him as a prospect, but like everyone else, I have seen my share of Florida games. Simply put, is he a good enough passer? He certainy has the head, toughness, intangibles, athletic ability and body for the position. Can he take a snap from under center, survey the defense, make the correct read, make a strong anticipatory throw before his WR comes out of his breaks and put it right on the money with both touch and velocity? Easier said than done.
Rickey Henderson (Hall of Fame)
The NFL is great, but on Sunday Rickey is gonna make the greatest Hall of Fame induction speech of all-time
Matt Williamson (12:02 PM)
I don't care about baseball one bit...but you might be right.
Shane (Huntsville, AL)
Hey Matt, big fan of your work with Scouts Inc. Being a philly native, i am naturally a die hard eagles fan, but not one of the jerks that is usually advertised. Do you think the eagles will win the East this year and if they do, how far do you see them going? And who do you think is gonna be a suprise playmaker for the iggles this year?
Matt Williamson (12:05 PM)
I do. In fact-another self plug coming-Jeremy Green and I just debated the Eagles vs. Giants on his podcast. It should be available today. I had the Eagles. I won't tell you who won, but I am obviously a huge believer in Philly. Great organization and to me, the best team in the NFC. Surprise player? Does B Stewart still count? He is awfully tough. I really like the DTs and Bunkley could really take it up another level. Abirami could break out opposite Cole. Pretty loaded team.
Jason (not Whitlock) (Kansas City)
Do you think Dwayne Bowe has the potential to become an elite WR in the NFL this season?
Matt Williamson (12:06 PM)
No. I like him. Don't get me wrong. His stats may end up being very strong, as KC is going to throw a lot, will often play from behind and obviously he is the top option in that O. But elite? Nah. Not a difference maker at the level of guys like Moss, Fitz, Andre J or Calvin J. Real good player. Not elite.
Is Kevin Kolb honestly the QB of the future?
Matt Williamson (12:07 PM)
It was a very small sampling, but he sure didn't look like it last season. Anxious to see what he brings to this preseason.
I hear the concern over the Ravens WR corps, however if that strong O-line gives Flacco an extra second or two to throw, even the most mediocre WR can break open. The Ravens went from the 3rd hardest schedule last year to the 27th this year, why shouldn't I be feeling good about their playoff chances?
Matt Williamson (12:10 PM)
I am feeling less and less optimistic about their playoff chances as well. Really don't see enough weapons to put up points in the passing game. Even with Mason, their receivers are ordinary on their best day. Also expect the D to slip just a bit. Pittsburgh looks like a pretty superior team right now.
I'm confused about your love of the Eagles. Their "elite" LT gave up a ton of sacks last year. Rookie WRs rarely make big impacts . Westbrook is a year older and still brittle (same w/ McNabb). Add in the Jim Johnson sitaution and I think they are in decline.
Matt Williamson (12:13 PM)
I expect the OL to be much better. Peters had a terrible year last season, but he also was out of shape and didn't look at all like the player of two years ago. I expect him to return to that caliber. The Andrews brothers can be superstars. Westbrook's injury is a concern, but McCoy should be able to spell him and step in to some degree. I like the pass catchers quite a bit. That includes Maclin, but there isn't a ton of stress on him to excel. That D is excellent. Top 5 type unit. I see your points, but I also have a tough time of really coming up with glaring negatives for this team. No love for Philly either. They are very tight with NYG in my opinion. But they are the best two teams in the NFC-but not in the NFL.
Is this a potential huge season for Jerious Norwood? If so, would the Falcons be facing a bit of karma by not being able to keep Turner and Norwood just as the Chargers couldn't keep Turner and Sproles?
Matt Williamson (12:14 PM)
I don't think so. Good player who consistently produces when he gets the chance, but he is a luxory item. Can't do the heavy lifting. If he leaves, he is replacable. Turner is incredibly more valuable. Give Norwood his usual 100 touches and he will do great. That is what he is.
Speaking of the NFC East, what is the deal in Wash with Clinton Portis? He had such an awful second half last year....was that a foreshadowing of what's to come this season? Or have things gotten better in DC?
Matt Williamson (12:16 PM)
A couple of reasons. First, I think Zorn made a rookie head coaching mistake by running his star RB into the ground and personally, I worry that it could have some long term affects to Portis' career. Need to give someone else some carries. Then, the passing game deteriorated and everyone knew it. No verticality whatsoever. Ds stacked the line. Further pounding Portis into the ground. That OL is older and lacks depth and to me, they also wore down as the season went along.
Will Mike Vick playing in the NFL this season or that other league?
Matt Williamson (12:16 PM)
Oh, I bet he is in the NFL. Patriots? Seattle? Oakland?
If I tell you right now that the Falcons D will rank 15th in the league, do you put them right there w/ Philly and NYG atop the NFC?
Matt Williamson (12:17 PM)
I would put them ahead of either of those teams. LOVE ATL's O. This is big-but it wouldn't surprise me if ATL has the #1 O in the league this year. However, you are going to have a tough time convincing me that the D will be 15th. For what it is worth, I do have ATL as #3 in the NFC.
With all the additions the saints have made on the defensive side, do you believe this could FINALLY be their year?
Matt Williamson (12:18 PM)
Could be and I do expect their secondary to finally be vastly improved. The O will be great. My biggest worry here is up front on D. I don't see much depth at DT at all. The LBs are just okay. Smith and Grant are going to miss time. Would have liked to see one more big body added on D.
What don't you like about Favre in purple? His arm strength? Team chemistry? I feel like a lot of media types are being critical of this because its a safer opinion to take. Then they can say "I told you so" later on.
Matt Williamson (12:21 PM)
I have said it forever. Hate it. I know he was injured, but the fact is, he was horrible on tape for most of last year. Can't throw nearly as well as he used to, but still takes the extreme risks that he always has. His mind is writing checks that his arm can no longer cash. As far as chemistry, I do have a real hard time believing that all this drama is good for the locker room. I want to play, but I don't want to go to OTAs-what? You are either in or out. Plus, that team needs to hand the ball to Peterson, play great D and manage the game to some degree from the QB position. Favre will never do that.
Hey Matty ICE!! What teams do you think that made the play-offs last year, won't make it this year?
Matt Williamson (12:22 PM)
Carolina and Tennessee immediatly come to mind. Miami as well. On the fence about Baltimore now as well.
Tell Joel (Mpls) that every time Favre hands the ball to Peterson he should exhale because it means that Favre won't throw a stupid interception on that play.
Matt Williamson (12:23 PM)
Pretty much. Also, watch Favre over the past few seasons. He wants nothing to do with getting hit in the pocket. Can't play this game like that. He is frickin' 40 years old and has never missed a game. Imagine what his body must feel like every morning-even on days in the middle of summer.
I was very excited with the addition of Harvin in the draft. How do you think he'll produce for the Vikes?
Matt Williamson (12:24 PM)
I like what he brings to the field quite a bit. I also do worry that Childress will be very vanilla with him and not use him to the best of his abilities. But, he needs to get 10 touches every game, plus returns. Could be a dynamite slot WR. That a bad bet for OROY.
Doesn't ATL's O-line worry you a bit in their quest to become an elite offense? And, speaking of O-lines, who are the top five units in the league as of right now?
Matt Williamson (12:27 PM)
Once again, funny you should mention that. I am just finishing up ranking every line in the league in terms of pass blocking and run blocking. ATL is quite solid in both regards. I was extremely skeptical of that unit this time last year, but they did a heck of a job. They don't have big names, but they play well together and have some developing talent. Depth is a big problem there though. Also, with all those weapons, it makes life much easier on the OL. Top 5? I would put Denver first. Tremendous in both facets. The Giants are right up there-better in the run game than in protection. Big beliver in Philly's going forward. Tenn's is excellent. Carolina has to be mentioned and prob would be my vote for the 2nd best group behind Denver.
Ryan (San Diego)
LT was injured last year for almost the entire year and still managed over 1000 yards rushing, double digit tds, and 400 yards receiving. He may be slightly declining, but if healthy he is still capable of putting up a monster season. I think he's going 1400 this year...my guess.
Matt Williamson (12:29 PM)
Read my article. His numbers might be strong once again, but in my mind, this is now an O that revolves around Rivers-not LT anymore. Spelling him with Sproles also will benefit LT a great deal. He runs hard and knows how to gain yardage, but I expect that we will see far less Sportscenter highlights from LT. More of a grinder who gets what is there instead of the superstar we once saw. And-injuries should become more and more prevelant. Bound to happen to a RB with his wear and tear.
Tim (San Diego)
Matt, does Vincent Jackson have a chance to be an elite WR?
Matt Williamson (12:30 PM)
Borderline. If you have paid attention, V-Jax is my guy for fantasy this year. Draft him. He could end up being the best weapon in that O, which is saying something. I just don't like to throw the word Elite around too much. Someone asked about D Bowe. I would put Jackson at that level-but he will surpass Bowe by year's end.
How bad will Tennesee miss Haynesworth? They had a top 5 defense. How far will they drop?
Matt Williamson (12:31 PM)
It will hurt a lot on both sides of the ball. No longer will they be able to completey trust their D and just run the ball like crazy. It will force Collins to throw more...and that is a bad thing. Tremendous player. Guys like VandenBosch are not going to be as productive. The LBs are in for a rude awakening as well.
Since you mentioned Fantasy Football...wasn't there talk a couple weeks ago about a M-Williamson Fantasy League? You know, after you give away all your good secrets?
Matt Williamson (12:35 PM)
I want to clarify that. Re-read that chat. First off, I have been in the same league (Great league) with my buds now for quite a while. Maybe 8 years or so. Believe it or not, I have done quite well. Anyways, I thought someone asked if I was in a dynasty league-that is something I would like to give a try. But yes, when we go to Lydia's for the draft, it usually isn't a great secret as to which players I like and don't like. In fact, for a while here in Pittsburgh on ESPN 1250, I did a fantasy show. Really layed it all out there for all my league-mates to see who I liked.
How will the Bengals be this year with Carson Palmer back, and the signing of Laverneous Coles?
Matt Williamson (12:39 PM)
I like the Coles signing and have always felt that TJ WhosYourMama was a smidge overrated. He was quite impressive last year though. But, I also think that Coles can do what he did-more or less. He might even bring a bit more big play ability, which isn't saying much. 85 is the key though. He needs to be motivated and on top of his game. If so, everything opens up. Don't forget about C Henry and last year's draft picks at WR as well. Could be a heck of a stable.
Speakin of the bengals, what do you make of ochocincos twittering on the sidelines?
Matt Williamson (12:40 PM)
Rediculous. Sheer Tom Foolery.
Luis (Santa Barbara, CA)
Matt, will you be attending any training camps this fall? If so, which ones and will you be reporting?
Matt Williamson (12:41 PM)
Doubtful. I am not a reporter. Will watch tape. Will hit the preseason games hard in that regard. I surely will be in Latrobe to do some local broadcasting for 1250, but just two or three times I would imagine. Busy. Not into traveling if I don't have to.
Could Chris Henry really be the next Randy Moss?
Matt Williamson (12:42 PM)
Oh no. That isn't a knock on Henry, who is quite good and I expect to have a very productive season. But Moss is an extremely rare WR. Honestly, he might be the most dangerous WR to ever play the game not named Rice. Super Freak. Insanely talented. Henry isn't even a starter.
Is it crazy to think the Bengals can make a run at the wildcard spot if their O-line is league average? I can see their D being top 15 MAYBE top 10, if the offense puts up a few big games, 9-7 can't be out of the realm of possibility right?
Matt Williamson (12:43 PM)
Agreed. But once again, I doubt the OL will be league average. For that OL project, I ranked Cincy the 29th best run blocking and pass blocking OL in the league. That is rather low. But, they do have some big bodies up front and that run blockign ranking could improve for sure.
Do you see Denver as more of a running team this year and not be as pass happy? Or do you think the D will cause them to fall behind and force Orton to throw more often?
Matt Williamson (12:44 PM)
Both. They really ran very little last year. That is partially due to not having any healthy RBs to speak of. That is a problem. I expect them to come into most weeks with a rather balanced game plan. Get Moreno his touches. But, I also expect that D to let up a lot of points.
Browns question: I hate talking about potential in players but thats all the the Browns really have. Do you like Robiskie and.....the other 2nd round pick to be good players?
Matt Williamson (12:46 PM)
I see Robiskie as a fine prospect who will setlle in as the #2 WR and never really give that role up. Low ceiling though. But a high floor. Massaquoi is similiar. The Browns were very conservative with their draft. They took a lot of guys with high floors and low ceilings. Stars are so important in this league, but that staff is really not in a position to swing and miss in their first draft. So, I have mixed feelings on that draft strategy, but the WRs are very much in that mold.
We know about the Skins' OL woes, but how good can the D be this year? I'm guessing top 5...also, shouldn't we try to bring M. Washington back?
Matt Williamson (12:47 PM)
Wouldn't have all that high of hopes for Washington. That should be Orakpo's role. But, yes, top 5 seems a bit lofty, but certainly improved. The biggest thing they need to improve upon on that side of the ball is creating more big plays. Turnovers. Sacks. That should come.
Tom Foolery (on the sideline with 85)
where do you see Warrick Dunn landing?
Matt Williamson (12:48 PM)
Tom, Warrick could be done. But, there will be two or three prominant RBs who get hurt in the preseason. Then, a contender might dial Dunn up for one last go-round. Great-and very underrated-career though.
Matt - do the Patriots have enough pass rush to win it all? it's the only part of the team that worries me. Would Burgess from Oakland be a fit in our 3-4 defense? Thanks
Matt Williamson (12:50 PM)
That worries me as well. Ideally, you would think that NEng scores a lot of points, forces their opponent to throw and then really comes after them-like the Colts have done for years with Freeney. But, I really think their outside pass rush is lacking. Big concern for me. Obviously Belichick is superb and will scheme some things up and maybe those couple young OLBs are more lethal than I know, but yeah, that worries me. Burgess? I guess. Use him situationally. I don't want him dropping into coverage and trying to cover someone like Leon Washington.
Bill S. (High Point,NC)
What team is in the worst shape at their backup QB?
Matt Williamson (12:51 PM)
Wow. Tough call. There are some terrible #2s right now. GBay? Buff? NEng? Indy?
will the patriots get micheal vick?
Matt Williamson (12:52 PM)
...which is why I mentioned that earlier.
Chizzie (Thornton, Co )
I give up. Ther's questions about the Bengals, Vikings, Browns. But, I ask a questions ( about he Colts) and its not posted or answered. ESPN is biased against the Colts.
Matt Williamson (12:53 PM)
That's right. Peyton Manning gets no love on our station. Ask your question instead of complaining about it and maybe I pick it...or not.
What you mean Indy?, Sorgi has great preseason numbers!
Matt Williamson (12:53 PM)
Oh yeah. The Colts fans would have nothing to worry about if Manning went down.
Speaking of 3-4 fits, you finally have me convinced about the Pack's switch. It's just not going to work. Would much rather see them go back to the 4-3 with a Jenkins, Raji, Pickett, Kampman front four with Hawk at WLB, Barnett at MLB, and Matthews at SLB. Plus their LB and D-Line depth would be tremendous
Matt Williamson (12:55 PM)
Exactly. It would have just been so much easier. I am sure they will be multiple to some degree, but instead of dedicating all the practice time to learning something new, just stick with what you have and run it well. You nailed it. They might end up being okay on D, but I still contend that they would have been quite good under the original scheme.
How do you see the Cardinal's secondary fairing this year? Top 15 after last years sorry excuse?
Matt Williamson (12:56 PM)
Better than Top 15. I really like their secondary. But..here is the rub, I think their pass rush will be amongst the league's worst. That is a problem for a secondary.
For fantasty, Moreno or Wells?
Matt Williamson (12:56 PM)
Moreno. Catches passes as well. More time on the field. Better OL.
Troy (Chambersburg, PA)
do you ever get tired of being called bias, by the most bias people in the world (the sports fan)
Matt Williamson (12:57 PM)
Part of the gig. I could say exactly what I do, but if I lived in SFran, people would say that I am biased in favor of the Niners. I just happen to live in a city with a great NFL team that won it all. We should all be so lucky.
Jimmy Raye will do _________ in SF this year. He will _______ be able to keep up with these young D coordinators.
Matt Williamson (12:58 PM)
That worries me, but one thing I expect is that there will be far less sacks. Martz gets his QBs killed. Singletary isn't going to stand for that. Gore will get a ton of touches. Short controlled passing game. Use Crabtree and Morgan's size and strength as assets.
Andy (Ann Arbor)
I have the first pick in a new keeper league. Would you take AP or Turner? (or someone else). I am worried about the wear-n-tear on AP.
Matt Williamson (12:59 PM)
Peterson. Don't overthink it. The guy is very special. One year-maybe not this year-but one year, he is going to go insane. Everything will align just right and he will get 2100 total yards and like 25 TDs. Seriously.
M-Dub will the Panthers be better this season(in other words will Jake) or will it be similar to last season?
Matt Williamson (1:00 PM)
Expecting them to fall off quite a bit. Just have one pass catcher of consequence. Make Delhomme beat you and bracket Smith. I also think the D is very average.
Malik Wilson (Mishawaka, IN )
do you think any of the DT rookies the colts drafted will start?
Matt Williamson (1:01 PM)
Maybe both. The new regime wants bulk inside and those two are pretty much all they have to fit that bill.
Do you see the raiders contending for the divison this season The AFC west looks down.
Matt Williamson (1:01 PM)
Not at all. The AFC West does look terrible...excpet for the Chargers. SD will have that division locked up by Week 13.
john (new york)
The jets defense finished #(?) in the AFC
Matt Williamson (1:02 PM)
The Pace suspension worries me, but I still think Rex Ryan gets the Jets to be a Top 6 or 7 D overall. They got some horses.
Matt Williamson (1:03 PM)
Okay everyone. I gotta run. We are doing a chat block tomorrow and I am on at 12:30. Stop by. And of course, I will be back next Wed at noon. Have a good one.