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July 11, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson

Matt Williamson
  (11:53 AM)

Hey everyone-Matt Williamson here. Let's get this chat started a little early. We can talk about anything you guys are in the mood for.

Jon V. (Cleveland, OH)

Does the fact that he has yet to sign with anotehr team validate the Browns' decision on Bentley?

Matt Williamson
  (11:54 AM)

Probably. Not to play doctor here, but my guess is that he isn't physically ready to play. There are too many teams out there who could use a OC/OG of his potential caliber.

Andy (Tallahassee)

Matt, its always sad to see someone with the athletic ability that Matt Jones be wasted with bad attitude and now legal and drug problems, but as a Jags fan I see this as good riddance, am I crazy?

Matt Williamson
  (11:55 AM)

MJ had to be on the bubble to begin with and now these incidents should spell Good Riddance for sure. The Jags have four or five WRs who can do damage. There isn't any reason to tolerate Jones any more. I have to come clean on Jones. I thought he was really going to be a difference maker in this league.

Jon V. (Cleveland, OH)

Who steps in the race for the Browns #3 receiver in Joe J's absence: Wilson, Cribbs, Kasper, Steptoe, Hubbard, Rucker?

Matt Williamson
  (11:57 AM)

Tough call. Steptoe and Kasper have to be the two with the worst chance of grabbig that. Hubbard is awfully raw, but I like his upside quite a bit and think he could eventually turn into a starter in this league. That leaves Wilson, who just doesn't seem to "Get it" and Cribbs, who is as tough as nails and would be my first choice of this group. However, K2 is really as threatening as just about any WR, so he makes their three WR package just as dangerous, but could still keep one RB and another TE in the game to help with blocking. K2 is a rare guy.

Todd PHILLY

Do you think the SD defense has a chance to be the best defense this year?

Matt Williamson
  (11:59 AM)

It should be right up there and playing in that division will help their cause from a rankings perspective. I think Minny has the best D in the league though. Some other elite ones: Dallas, Seattle, NE, Chi and NYG.

SprungOnSports (Long Island)

Jets rookies report in less than a week, what can be expected of Vernon Gholston and the rest of the rooks this season?

Matt Williamson
  (12:01 PM)

They want Keller to eventually turn into their version of Dallas Clark-and he is capable. However, I see a big learning curve for him since he has a long way to go from a strength/blocking perspective to be able to line up inline. As for Gholston, I am not sold. I see a situational pass rusher in year one who makes a few impressive highlight plays with his pure speed and get-off. I would think that Pace is surely going to start and then Thomas on the other side-at least early in the season.

kent (n'awlins)

Hey Matt - Looks like the Saints offense will be back to playoff form this year and with a much improved defensive front with the addition of Vilma and Ellis, could we see another super bowl push from the Saints?

Matt Williamson
  (12:03 PM)

I am with ya. Huge Brees fan here as well. That group of RBs (P Thomas!) should be able to keep D's honest, but like you said, the biggest improvement should come on D. Vilma is a perfect fit/leader for this squad and getting Ellis is a home run and exactly what they needed. The DEs will get after QBs and I see them moving Grant inside (much like J Tuck) on throwing downs. I picked them to win the South and like their chances at getting that first round bye as well.

BJ (New York)

Matt, I was curious if you could explain what about young T. Jackson turns you off so much. KC Joyner and some of the other analysts on espn don't seem as convinced he stinks as you.

Matt Williamson
  (12:06 PM)

There are some excellent analysts on ESPN obviously and I have a lot of respect for what KC does, but I just watch this guy play and I can't hitch my wagon to T Jax. I don't like his pocket presence and I think he feels pressure that really isn't there. Most importantly, I just don't trust his accuracy-especially deep. This team would be excellent with a chain moving game managing QB and I don't see him being that guy. Yes, he does have upside and talent, but I am just not sold on bit.

Nick (SLC)

Matt, What do you expect from Eric Weddle this year? He had a pretty impresive Rookie season.

Matt Williamson
  (12:07 PM)

Very much so. He will benefit a great deal from the great group around him, including two stud CBs and a fine pass rush. But this guy is a playmaker in every sense of the word. He will make a ton of plays going forward.

Keith (Chicago)

You leave out PGH for elite D's? Oversight or implication? Also, was that article from a few weeks ago calling Clev's OLine the best in football generated from answering that Question in this chat? (come on' stroke my ego)

Matt Williamson
  (12:09 PM)

Oh yeah, sure, you were the entire reason that I put Clev's OL at the top. How's that? I think these chats are awesome becasue they keep me thinking about new angles on the league, etc-and hopefully they are entertaining and informative for you all-but I would put Clev #1 if I never spoke to another living soul. As for the Steelers, I like their D, but really worry about that DL depth. That D was a mess when A Smith went down and they didn't do a thing to help that issue. Keisel is a good DE as well, but he wore down as the season went along. Good D-not great.

Peyton Manning (Filming a commercial )

Hey Matt, with Marvin healthy, Roy Hall surprising people and a young defense with a year's experience, we're going to be right there at the end of things. You heard it here first!

Matt Williamson
  (12:10 PM)

We were just asked to submit our power rankings and I put Indy at #2 behind New Eng, so I am with you. However, I have questions about the D and what if Freeney and/or Sanders isn't 100%? Peyton makes a ton of problems go away though.

SprungOnSports (Long Island)

I'm hearing from a lot of places that Adam Jones has turned the corner and has the chance to reclaim his place as a dangerous player, do you think he's turned the corner?

Matt Williamson
  (12:12 PM)

On the field or off the field? I have no idea off the field and wouldn't even begin to speculate. On the field, he turned that corner a long time ago. Big time difference maker. Can be an elite CB. Great player. That secondary is amazing.

Tim (Chicago)

My Bears have any shot at creepin in to a mediocre NFC playoff race, schedule is so-so, defense will keep us in games. Offense obviously alot of questions, am I crazy to think 9-7, Cub fan so I have a yearly Hope train pass.

Matt Williamson
  (12:13 PM)

I just can't give that to you. I do think that I am higher on their D than most and I expect that group to be fierce this year. Coupling that with elite Special Teams and they will be competitive in many games, BUT...and you knew it was coming...that O is just awful. Terrible. Hideous. Who do you trust out of their starting 11? I like both TEs. Forte might-I stress might-be good. Kreutz and Garza will be fine. Then it is time to worry and worry a plenty.

Sean (Denver)

Why does everyone continue to pick the Colts ahead of the Chargers when the Chargers have owned the Colts the past three seasons?

Matt Williamson
  (12:15 PM)

Great question and honestly, for me, it just came down to Manning. The guy is really something. SD has gotten the better of them-I can't argue that-and SD probably has a better roster from top to bottom. But, if one of the two teams were to dissapoint this upcoming year, I would bet on SD to fall back before I would bet on Dungy, Moore, Mudd, Manning and company to fall to mediocrity. Still, I am picking both to win their divisions.

Sean (Philly)

I know this is the opposite theory of what the Giants did last year, but I think the Eagles secondary is going to make the DL look good this year.

Matt Williamson
  (12:16 PM)

That philosophy doesn't fly with me-ask Denver's CBs for one example. However, I like Philly's front seven. A lot of depth there and some intriguing young players. Should provide for a very energetic rotation of active playmakers up front.

Keith (Chicago)

So Baltimore is no longer an elite D either?

Matt Williamson
  (12:17 PM)

Today? Yes. But once injuries set in (like last year), No. Depth with this group really worries me at every level. I do love their starting 11, but as the season goes along, this D could worsen.

Steve (Rochester, NY)

While I'm thrilled to have Darren McFadden on the Raiders, I'm just as excited to see Michael Bush get on the field in 2008. Can you give us a scouting report on him and how he might fit into Oakland's suddenly crowded backfield?

Matt Williamson
  (12:20 PM)

He could really surprise. Obviously the guy is massive and kinda looks like B Jacobs in pads. A little softer body though and doesn't run with that level of power, but he might be more fluid and can contribute as a pass catcher and in space. Bush came to college as a QB! Should immediatly be the goal line back and might surprise overall. As I have said MANY times, Oak should have taken G Dorsey instead of McF.

Jake (VA Beach)

So are your doubts of the Giants carrying over to this year too?

Matt Williamson
  (12:21 PM)

Yes and No. They proved a lot to me last year and I give them all the credit in the world. But repeating is very tough and I do expect them to come down to Earth a bit. Still one of the best teams in the NFC and in our power rankings, I only put 5 NFL teams ahead of them and just Dallas in the NFC.

Steve (Rochester, NY)

Isn't Antonio Cromartie overhyped given that a big chunk of his 2007 production came in just a few games (IND, KC & HOU) and the fact that he isn't even among the top 2 CB's in his 4 team division?

Matt Williamson
  (12:24 PM)

That division boasts the best two CBs in the league though! Big believer in Cromartie here. Yes, he could be overhyped because of his Sportscenter highlights, but this guy has rare rare abilities and is quickly fulfilling those abilities. His recognition skills with route combinations still needs work and he can be overly aggressive, but remember, he played very little at the college level. It is all in front of him. About to be a great one if he isn't already.

Robert - Vegas

Is Gibril Wilson really that big of an upgrade at safety than Schweigert? Can he hack it in the AFC West with the power running game and the superior TE's that he will face 6 times a year?

Matt Williamson
  (12:26 PM)

They may have overspent here, but I do think he upgrades the position in those areas that you brought up. I still really worry about Oak's ability to stop the run, but with their CBs, they could play a lot of Cover 1 Man with the CBs locking down WRs and Huff playing a deep centerfield. This would allow them to bring Wilson in as the 8th man in the box with some consistency on early downs. Good fit for what Oak needs and coming from a winning enviroment could also help the locker room.

Liam (Houston)

Can we expect the Niners to at least improve? What do you make of the QB situation? Wouldn't it be something if Farve comes back and Rogers walks when his contract is up and he ended up a Niner in the end?

Matt Williamson
  (12:27 PM)

Favre in a Niners' uniform? Interesting. Will SF be better? Maybe, but not by much. Far too many question marks for my tastes. I do think Smith and Martz will be very good for one another and I expect Smith to show marked improvement this season.

Sal (Allentown)

The Eagles suddenly have great depth at safety. Any chance they trade Sean Considine, who I still think could be a very good starter, for a draft pick next season?

Matt Williamson
  (12:28 PM)

Probably not. Tough to really count on Dawkins right now. Plus, much like Lito Shepperd's situation, Philly is a contender and should be in a win now mode.

Louie (Tampa....by way of NYC)

Why doesn't anyone (including you) ever give the Jets any love? They did everything the could this off-season to improve the team through FA and trades. They took the best player on the board with the #6 pic, the finally have a pass catching tight end. And thier defense is very young and had the chance to be very good. Yet it's still not good enough and everyone is saying the will win 4 or 5 games this season. What gives? I mean, what more can they do?!

Matt Williamson
  (12:31 PM)

They were aggressive-no doubt. And their roster is improved-no doubt. But these positions give me great pause when looking at this team for the entire season. Here goes: QB, 3rd WR, RT, 6th OLineman and overall OL depth, DE, ILB next to Harris, CB opposite Revis. That is a long list and part of me wanted to put RB on that list as well. Where exactly is NYJ clearly above average?

Goodie (Tampa)

Sooo Miami 9-7?

Matt Williamson
  (12:31 PM)

Oh no no no no

Liam (Houston)

I didn't mean Farve a niner. I meant if Farve came back which alienated A. Rogers and he went to the Niners when his contract is up. It would be ironic since the Niners passed on him in the first place.

Matt Williamson
  (12:31 PM)

Awww-I hear ya now. He did play at Cal.

Sean (Philly)

What do you expect out of Javon Walker this year? Obviously a lot depend on the QB, and that stable of running backs they have.

Matt Williamson
  (12:33 PM)

Hard to put a lot of faith in Walker. Weight issues, off the field concerns, overall committment and obviously he has had some serious knee injuries. Oak's passing game is a huge area of concern. I do think they will run the ball very well, but there isn't many aspects of their passing attack that I can show faith in now.

Kurt (Wilmington, NC)

Cleveland has to be preparing to make a move to add CB help. They are so thin there, especially after trading Bodden and losing Holly for the season. I have heard about possibly signing Ty law, but that isn't going to make everything alright. Have you heard any whispers?

Matt Williamson
  (12:34 PM)

I would guess that they have inquired about Lito, who would add much more to the table than Law. McDonald and Wright are better than many realize and Wright might turn into a star, but sure-they are very thin here. Could be their downfall against Cincy's WRs and PGH's passing attack.

Scott (Champaign, IL)

Hey Matt! Just how many carries per game do you think Mendenhall will get in Pitt? I'm wondering when I should try to get him in my FF Draft.

Matt Williamson
  (12:36 PM)

I have him ranked VERY high on my FF draft board and on local PGH radio I said that I expect Mendenhall to take over the starting RB job by mid season. He brings more to the table than Parker and will be the superior RB. For FF reasons, he will immediatly be the goal line RB, which is a big deal as you know.

Corey (Philadelphia)

Matt: Which rookie runner will be the most productive for their squad this year?

Matt Williamson
  (12:37 PM)

I would take Stewart. Perfect fit there on a much improved O. Forte and Kev Smith have the best chance of opening the season as the starter though.

Louie (Tampa...by way of NYC)

All your points are well taken, and QB clearly is a need. But there just wasn't one available to go out and get. So they shouldn't be killed for not improving in an area that couldn't be improved! Should'nt the remade offensive line make the running and therefore the pasing game better? Should adding Keller give the QB another option besides Coles/Cottechry/Washington, therefore acting as a 3rd WR? Aren't Harris, Revis, Rhodes, Jenkins, and Gholston all playmakers on defense? I'm not saying there are SB bound, but they should be able to go 8-8. And they are definitely moving in the right direction, wouldn't you agree with that?

Matt Williamson
  (12:38 PM)

Made strides in the right direction, yes. I still will take the UNDER on a 8 win season and I think Buff and NE are clearly the better teams in that division. Your points are solid, but going back to my trouble areas that I listed-there are just too many to overcome and every opposing coordinator will attack them in those spots.

Anthony (NYC)

Matt is this the year Reggie Brown finally starts pulling his weight or are the Eageles playing the same tune of Westbrook & McNabb to carry the load?

Matt Williamson
  (12:39 PM)

I see Brown as a lifetime complementary piece of the Eagles' puzzle. That can be good enough to win a lot of games with but you nailed it, Westbrook and McNabb have the weight of the world on their shoulders to carry this O.

Armando (Indy)

Do you see Mike Hart having any success in the NFL given any kind of opportunity, including kick returns?

Matt Williamson
  (12:41 PM)

A little slow for return duties and remember, he never did that at Michigan. Great natural running instincts though and is a tough customer. I bet they will have a tough time cutting him and it is possible that he becomes that #2 guy, but I would bet against it. Remember he offers nothing as a special teams player, so that makes keeping him active on game day that much more difficult.

James (Silent Hill)

Matt, why does Ozzie Newsome continue to be immune from criticism for his role in the Ravens' decline? Yeah, Billick probably had enough time to build something resembling a competent offense, but he isn't that one who has failed to draft a single quality quarterback or wide receiver throughout his career.

Matt Williamson
  (12:42 PM)

That is true to an extent, but Newsome's track record is fantastic. How many first rounders has he missed on? Compare the Ravens' drafts to every other team's and you will see that Balt consistently ranks amongst the better groups in this regard.

Kevin (TX)

Is it overstating to say Houston's 1st round pick -- Brown -- was the worst of the entire draft? They could have a) drafted Otah b) accepted Carolina's trade that Phily agreed to or c) drafted someone worthy of the 1st round and still got Brown in the 2nd.

Matt Williamson
  (12:43 PM)

The way that LTs were going off the board, they probably would not have gotten Brown in round 2. I see where you are coming from, but remember-Gibbs is an all time great OL coach and LT has been a huge problem since Houston came into the league. He fits their system very well, which can't be overlooked. LTs don't grow on trees.

Tom (Chicago)

I'm sure the people that cheer for the Detroit Lions would love to have Ozzie Newsome as their GM...

Matt Williamson
  (12:44 PM)

Indeed

Scott (Champaign, IL)

Thanks for the answer Matt. Is Ronnie Brown going to be back to form this year or will Ricky be taking the reins?

Matt Williamson
  (12:45 PM)

Too hard for me to guess that now but Brown is someone that I am very interested to see in preseason. That running game can be very good this year, but trusting Brown to be his old self seems foolish to me this season. Remember this name as well: Jalen Parmele.

James (Silent Hill)

I see your point Matt, but you gotta admit: spending two first rounders on Kyle Boller was an incredibly dimb draft decision. And Joe Flacco is pretty much the same player.

Matt Williamson
  (12:46 PM)

It is too early to say that Flacco is the same player as Boller. Give the guy a chance to at least see the field first! Yeah, the Boller move hasn't worked out and spending what they did surely stings, but I also think BB had something to do with that selection as well. QB has been a massive problem for Balt, but missing on one out of 9 or 10 (guessing here) is pretty darn good by Newsome.

Brian (NC)

Matt, if Eli can maintain his level of play from the last five games of the year (a big IF, I know), do you think they'll take the division from the Cowboys?

Matt Williamson
  (12:47 PM)

Probably....but like you said, that was a VERY high level. That division is nasty by the way.

Ben (Rhode ISland)

What can we expect from Jay Cutler teaming up with Brandon Marshall for a second yr.

Matt Williamson
  (12:48 PM)

Big things. I really like what both players bring to the field and I expect Marshall to establish himself as one of the very best WRs in the league very soon.

John (Miami)

Jalen Parmele? How about Ricky Williams?!

Matt Williamson
  (12:49 PM)

Ricky is #2-no doubt. But trusting him is tough to do right now given his track record. Not saying that Ricky can't be succesful or Parmele is their best option, but when you look around the league to find this year's Grant/Fargas/Graham type RBs, Parmele comes to mind immediatly.

Brad(NM)

What do you make of Buffalo's D Matt? The backs are young, but the line is experienced and they get Poz back.

Matt Williamson
  (12:50 PM)

It is going to be excellent. MUCH better than last year. My one concern: their ability to rush the passer off the edge. I like Schobel, but without another big threat on the opposite side, he can be taken away. This D is missing that one piece.

Tom (Cornish, NH)

How soon until Jamaal Charles get 10-12 touches a game?

Matt Williamson
  (12:51 PM)

Once LJ gets hurt, then Charles and Kolby Smith will split carries. Until that point, I think Herm runs LJ right into the ground....as he always does. That isn't a knock in Charles, but it is a knock on Edwards.

Cedric Benson (TBD)

Where am I going to end up? Is there any team interested in signing me?

Matt Williamson
  (12:52 PM)

Kev Jones should be the first RB picked up and then Benson, Alexander and Henry could fall in line once RBs get banged up in the preseason.

Jay (Ann Arbor, MI)

Hey Matt, what do you think of the Lions this season after a season last year which they started 6-2 and ended 7-9?

Matt Williamson
  (12:53 PM)

I would go under 7 wins for Detroit this season. Every time they take a step forward, they take one or two backwards. There are a LOT of problems areas with this team.

Majeed

Is he Bernie's little bro or cousin?

Matt Williamson
  (12:54 PM)

Don't think they are related, but don't quote me on that.

Matt

I love how people think Houston could draft a guy in the second round when they traded that pick to get Schaub. Research, people!

Matt Williamson
  (12:55 PM)

Good point as well! Can't wait to get LTs

Farley (Arizona)

Why arent the Cardinals mentioned as a possible destination for Brett Favre?

Matt Williamson
  (12:56 PM)

I would bet they would welcome him aboard and actually I picked Zona to win their division. Haven't really heard of a list of possible suitors for Favre...how about the Jets?

Sean (Philly)

I still would like to see Kevin Jones in Philly. Coming back to his hometown, and backing up the to often knicked up Westbrook.

Matt Williamson
  (12:57 PM)

Not a terrible move. I don't like Buckhalter and Hunt showed very little as a rookie. They did trade for Booker and still have Moats, so they are crowded back there, but Jones (if healthy) is clearly the 2nd best RB of that group.

Nate (Madison)

What kind of season do you see the Green Bay defense having?

Matt Williamson
  (12:58 PM)

Should be strong. Just outside that elite group that I mentioned earlier. It wasn't publicized much last year, but Harris regressed at CB and that could be something to keep an eye on in their aggressive M2M scheme.

Danny (NY)

Who do you like the most for the Rookie RBs long term?

Matt Williamson
  (1:00 PM)

Mendenhall. Can ease into his situation. Fast. Powerful. Versatile. Has very little tread off his tires from college carries. Several options here of course, but I will go with Mendenhall.

Del (Detroit)

Do you see the Lions trading for LaMont Jordan? Sounds like they're interested.

Matt Williamson
  (1:02 PM)

Heard that and yes, bringing in a bigger RB does make some sense for this team. I like Kevin Smith and they got him at a good price, but he carried that ball an amazing 450 times last year! T Bell is junk. Calhoun can't stay healthy. But, is Jordan the right guy and is giving up a draft pick for him prudent? Oak will cut him in time and is he better than Henry? Maybe, but the Lions need all the draft picks they can get.

Steve (Rochester, NY)

You don't seem too high on McFadden. Why?

Matt Williamson
  (1:04 PM)

That isn't entirely true. I would have taken Dorsey-no quesion about that, as I will always take the DT over a RB. I do think he can change games and has some very explosive qualities, but I also worry that he has a lot of Reggie Bush to him in that he will not be able to rely on that speed at this level. He isn't real explosive laterally and is too straight linish for my taste. Can he make a top MLB miss in tight quarters between the tackles? Can he run that guy over? Not sold.

David (Gainesville, FL)

I haven't heard anything about Grady Jackson, do you have any idea if he has signed with a team?

Matt Williamson
  (1:04 PM)

I don't think that he has and I did hear that Oak was sniffing. That would make a lot of sense.

Eric (Sioux City)

Why do some teams continue to duplicate their draft picks on RBs when it is the easiest position to fill. Tennessee, early picks on Lendale, Henry, and now Johnson. Carolina on Eric Shelton, DeAngelo, and now Stewart.

Matt Williamson
  (1:06 PM)

Excellent question. I see Johnson as an O weapon more than a pure RB for Tenn. They didn't think there was a WR worth the pick, so they got a do-it-all guy...which is fine by me. The Henry pick was the killer for them though, as was the Shelton pick for Car.

PaulieP (Scottsdale)

Still not sure why you're high on the Cardinals over the Hawks...

Matt Williamson
  (1:08 PM)

LOVE the Hawks' D, but that O is going to struggle. Mark it down. Hass is fine and the OL might be improved, but their weapons are amongst the worst in the league. Also, I tend to think that Holmgren's last season in transitioning to Mora might not go as smoothly as everyone seems to think. That is a tough situation. However, I do like Zona and expect their OL and esp their D to be much improved. But, to put this in perspective, I put Zona as the 13th best team in my power rankings, so I really don't like anyone in this division all that much.

Matt Williamson
  (1:09 PM)

Everyone, this was great. We shall do it again soon. Take care and have a great weekend.