Chat with James Walker
Walker joined ESPN.com in 2008 after three seasons covering the Cleveland Browns for the Columbus Dispatch. He also covered the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Cavaliers at the Dispatch. Walker grew up in Hyattsville, Md., before attending Temple University, graduating in 2001 with a B.A. in communications and mass media. He resides in the Cleveland area.
Send your questions now and join Walker on Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
James Walker (3:58 PM)
Hello everyone. We have an interested time coming up with the draft. So let's see if I can answer some of your questions.
Corey (Washington DC)
James, give us a percentage on the likelihood Braylon is playing somewhere else this season. Reports suggest that an offer is on the table, and that it is just a matter of time.
James Walker (4:01 PM)
I take it this will be one of the most asked questions today, so I will address it right away. The New York Giants want Edwards, and the Browns are willing to trade just about anyone on their roster--for the right price. If New York or another team really wants him, someone needs to give up a lot, but it can be done. I would say there is a 65-70 percent change of him playing elsewhere, with the Giants being the most likely place.
James (Washington DC)
Hi James! I know its early, but how do you see both Mendenhall and Sweed fitting into the Steeler's plan this year? I trust their scouting and am interested in how well you think they will do, especially Mendenhall. Thanks!
James Walker (4:03 PM)
Both will fit in well in reserve roles. They were red shirts, in a way, last season. So it's almost as though Pittsburgh is gaining a pair of extra draft picks. Their roles will increase as the year goes on and they prove worthy of more opporutnities.
The Wolf (Cleveland)
I've seen a few mock that have Curry falling to the Browns. With KC signing LB Thomas, do you think they will pass on Curry and the Browns can land him? As much as I want Crabtree at #5, if both Curry and Crabtree are available at #5, the Browns they gotta pick Curry.
James Walker (4:04 PM)
What's up, Wolf? If Curry is there, Cleveland would be extremely fortunate and can't pass him up. If Cleveland had the top pick, I would still say pick Curry based on its needs.
Matt (Frederick, MD)
In your opinion, does any team have fewer needs than the Steelers going into the draft? The Steelers are returning almost everybody from last season (save McFadden, Washington, Leftwich) and there are backups (Gay, Sweed, Batch) in place. Would you expect any draft pick of theirs to start within a year anyway? And which other teams do you feel are in that position? The Pats maybe?
James Walker (4:06 PM)
The Steelers are the champs, so it's natural to say they have the least holes. I doubt a rookie will start for them in Week 1. The best chance would be an offensive lineman or cornerback beating out someone in training camp.
Ryan (Columbus OH)
Hey James, glad you're back, I had a hard time getting through the week without your updates. I see a lot of the mock drafts regarding the Steeler's 1st pick and they bounce all over the place. Who do you think is the best fit for the OL. I personally would be very happy with Mack. Your thoughts?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
Thanks for the kind words, Ryan. It's hard to project the final pick in the first round because any combination of 31 players could be taken ahead of the Steelers. I've said all along Alex Mack could be their pick. Louisville center Eric Wood is now really high on their radar as well.
SprungOnSports (Long Island)
What do you think the Browns would want from the Giants for Edwards?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
I think a first, a third, and maybe a conditional pick next year will do the trick. Sounds pretty high, right? Cleveland may settle for less as the draft nears.
Lonnie (Pittsburgh, PA)
Will the new contract for Harrison have any affect on the resigning of Ward, Miller, and Clark for the Steelers.
James Walker (4:11 PM)
No. I actually think it will help because now the Steelers can focus on other members of the 2010 class. My guess is Pittsburgh tries to re-up Heath Miller next.
John Boy (Cincinnati)
Bigger need for the Fightin Who Deys in round 2: Center or RB? Any chance Donald Brown is around?
James Walker (4:14 PM)
I would say center in round two. If the Bengals can't protect Carson, they have no chance of scoring enough points to be taken seriously. Cincinnati only needs a change-of-pace back at this point to mix with Cedric Benson.
James Walker (4:14 PM)
Plus, who is going to push around Haloti Ngata, Shaun Rogers and Casey Hampton next year?
Sean (TR NJ)
Hi james thanks for the time. What moves do the Bengals have to make in order to be competitve this year can they and will they be adressed in this years draft?
James Walker (4:16 PM)
They need at least two starting linemen--a left tackle and center. A change of pace running back who can take it the distance. And they need to figure out if Chad Ocho Cinco wants to play for them or not. If they solve those three ASAP, that's a solid start.
Brian (Richfield, OH)
Any chance that a Braylon to NY trade could trigger a Ochocinco to Philly trade?
James Walker (4:18 PM)
Hmm. Both are possibilities, but I'm not sure the two are related. The Browns are willing to deal. I question if Cincinnati is willing to deal at the moment.
EJ (Blakely, PA)
Is the Shaun Rogers/Eric Mangini feud over?
James Walker (4:20 PM)
As far as I know, the pair have worked out their differences and got back to focusing on football. I'm not sure the two will ever be best friends. But winning next year would help.
cleveland [via mobile]
james, is there talk of the Browns updating their safety positions. what have you heard draft wise?
James Walker (4:22 PM)
The Browns have been fairly quiet on the safety front. They've been looking at a lot of o and d linemen and linebackers. I'm hearing they are pretty high on USC hybrid Clay Matthews Jr.
James Walker (4:23 PM)
The hope is that he makes it through the first round, but I don't know if that will happen.
Mike A (Altoona, Pa)
What's good James? Do you know the reasoning behind the Steelers keeping Batch and letting go of Leftwich? Was it a money issue?
James Walker (4:24 PM)
The Steelers were interested in keeping both. Byron Leftwich wanted to compete for a starting job and was offered much more money in Tampa. So he's in a better situation than backing up Ben Roethlisberger.
Robert (Latrobe, PA)
Does Hines Ward retire as a Steeler? I love the guy and it would make me sick to see him as a Lion or Bear or any other team because they'd overpay for him.
James Walker (4:27 PM)
My guess is Hines Ward wants to play for a few more seasons and retire a Steeler.
Mike A (Altoona, Pa)
Any chance you got a free peek at the new schedules? How bout some inside info?
James Walker (4:28 PM)
I hear the Steelers are hosting the Titans to open the season. Just kidding. The league isn't letting word out until later. I may check around after this chat to see what I can find.
John Boy (Cincinnati)
Are the Bengals still looking at signing Roy Williams? How about a FB?
James Walker (4:30 PM)
John Boy, it looks like Cincinnati will wait until the draft to find a fullback. It's been silent on the Roy Williams front since his visit. I doubt anything will happen there until the team knows what it has after the draft as well.
Pat G (Flo town)
Why Does D Wade not win the MVP???
James Walker (4:32 PM)
Because Kobe and LeBron are having better seasons.
Ron (Seven Hills, OH)
I have heard lots of talk about Quinn trade rumors, but is there any talk about the Browns trading DA. I would really hate to see Quinn gone.
James Walker (4:33 PM)
The market for D.A. is not as good as the market for Quinn. The Browns aren't attached to either one, so the player with the most value is most likley to be moved. The cap hit post bonus for Anderson also is steep.
With everyone saying the Browns need help with against the rush, is Corey Williams another bust free agent signing (along with Stallworth)?
James Walker (4:36 PM)
Corey Williams has another shot this year to prove some of his critics wrong. He was injured a lot last year and didn't fit well in a 3-4. I think he's a better player in a 4-3 defense, but the Browns will have to find a way to get the most out of him.
As a Temple Grad you probably have an idea how the City of Brotherly love is feeling after the passing of Harry Kalas. Just wanted to say RIP Harry, our prayers and thoughts are with your family.
James Walker (4:37 PM)
Great gesture, Sean.
ET (Alamogordo, NM)
James, GREAT colum! I read it every day. With the Steelers having the easiest SOS (thus far) and not having many holes to fill, what are the chances of completing a perfect season? I know Baltimore can always throw a loss at us, but the personnel and schedule seem like the perfect fit
James Walker (4:39 PM)
A perfect season? I doubt it, ET. The Steelers will be SB contenders next year but there is no way they go all the way through without a loss.
Ive had multiple posts now and cant get anything answered while others have a couple up...whats the deal? Do you see the Browns addressing any needs through FA? Any rumors besides the trade ones?
James Walker (4:41 PM)
Tyler, the Browns are pretty much done in free agency. There's not much left at this point anyway. The draft, for the most part, will be their last chance to remake this roster before taking the field.
Zach Rastall (Marinette, WI)
Awesome One, will Dom Capers turn the Packers lousy defense around this year?
James Walker (4:43 PM)
Zach, this is an AFC North chat. But I will say I am always nervous about teams changing from a 4-3 to a 3-4 in the first year. It's a hard thing to do.
You have mentioned Heath Miller as a priority. Who do you believe are the other 2010 free agent Steeler priorities?
James Walker (4:45 PM)
I don't think there will be many. Pittsburgh may try to extend one or two more guys before the season, if any. In order I would say Miller, Hines Ward, Ryan Clark.
tomwit nj [via mobile]
Even if Steelers go 18 and 0 the Giants will stop them in SBowl. Ask the Pats.
James Walker (4:47 PM)
Can the Giants win it all without a No. 1 receiver? I'm not so sure.
Do you think the Browns O-line is stable? Some mock drafts had them taking a right tackle
James Walker (4:50 PM)
I think the line is serviceable right now. The left side is strong, the rest is just decent. I don't think they wouldn't take a right tackle with the first pick. I do think they would take a center in the second round.
Craig from Lakewood, OH
Hey James. Has Joey J. been picked up by anyone since his release from the Browns? Do think he would make a good fit in Pittsburgh? Possibly to push Limas Sweed to work hard and get over his case of 'Braylon Edward's Disease'.
James Walker (4:52 PM)
Joe Jurevicius is still a free agent. Teams are probably going to wait until his knee is fully healed.
I am your biggest fan Mr. Walker!
James Walker (4:53 PM)
Thanks. Your check is in the mail.
Nick (Knoxville, TN)
Andre Smith was one of the most dominant players in college football. I can't believe that everyone now has him as the third best tackle. I will be very glad when the Bengals grab him at No. 6.
James Walker (4:54 PM)
Nick, can the Bengals afford to take a character risk in the draft after all they've been through? It would be a risky move to say the least.
Several AFC North teams (a.k.a. everyone but the Ravens) seem to have centers on their radar for the draft. There are only so many top rated centers. Which teams are in the worse shape if they don't grab one of the highly rated ones?
James Walker (4:56 PM)
The Bengals need a center the most. The Browns second and the Steelers third. But all three need depth there. Like I mentioned earlier, Ngata, Rogers and Hampton are not easy to deal with twice a year.
Bert (Samville, OH)
will our brownies beat da berg this year?? odds jamal is back near the 2000 yard mark??
James Walker (4:58 PM)
Bert looking at the roster right now, pre-draft, I think Pittsburgh's streak continues. And Jamal will not get 2,000 yards. The Browns will be happy with 1,200.
Why does Mangini seem to be set on cleaning house and starting over? Why not keep some of the talent in Cleveland?
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Most coaches want to win or lose with their guys. The previous group got Romeo Crennel fired. Why would the new coach want to coach the same players? At least that's the thought process of head coaches and new GMs.
James Walker (5:01 PM)
Everyone, thanks again for your time. Check out the AFC North blog later today for the NFL schedule release. Also check us out throughout the week. -JW