Chat with Tim Graham
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com AFC East blogger Tim Graham will drop in to chat about all the latest news from the NFL.
Graham joined ESPN.com in 2008 after covering the Miami Dolphins for the Palm Beach Post. He previously spent eight years at the Buffalo News, where he was an award-winning NHL and boxing writer. The Baldwin-Wallace College grad also has worked for the Las Vegas Sun and Boston Herald.
Send your questions for Graham now and join him on Friday at 3 p.m. ET!
Tim Graham (2:52 PM)
Good afternoon from Graham Central Station. I'm here ahead of schedule, and there are no rules against getting started early. So let's go.
Paul (Farmville, VA)
With Newton's workout is he a possibility for the Bills at #3?
Tim Graham (2:57 PM)
I wrote weeks before Thursday's workout that Cam Newton will be a possibility for Buffalo with the third overall pick. A source close to the team told me even before the season was over that Buddy Nix was high on Newton. So I've always made it a point to emphasize Newton as a strong candidate for Buffalo.
What are the chances of hte Jets keeping Holmes? Edwards? or even both
Tim Graham (3:00 PM)
The Jets will keep at least one of them, but they might have trouble re-signing both. Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum has declared his intentions to bring back Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards AND Brad Smith. That sounds ambitious to me, but the Jets have a persuasive environment. Players love Rex Ryan, the front office, the facility ... and they win games.
Jon (Amherst,NY (very close to Graham Central))
Tim, thanks for the chat, I'm beginning to realize how much I hate the offseason and it hasn't even been a week yet. Draft time! Who do you have the bills taking at three?
Tim Graham (3:04 PM)
Yes, it's that time of year. But part of the reason the offseason can be so grueling is sorting through all the uneducated speculation that turns our to be wrong 98 percent of the time. With that in mind, I've never done a mock draft and never will. The Bills don't even know who they're going to draft right now. So, with all due respect to anybody's draft forecast questions, it would be disingenuous for me to pretend like I know something the Bills (or any other team) don't know themselves. I'll leave that up to the draftniks.
Tim Graham (3:05 PM)
I often will post mock draft roundups of people such as Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, Wes Bunting, Nolan Nawrocki, Rob Rang and others I respect. I do that to give AFC East blog readers something to discuss and debate. But even those credentialed guys are guessing. We haven't even gotten to the combine yet. Stocks will rise and fall dramatically between now and April 28.
Tim Graham (3:06 PM)
And the last 14 questions are asking me to appraise some player's draft stock ...
What direction do you think the Jets go in the draft? Where are there positions of need in your opinion?
Tim Graham (3:08 PM)
This year's draft is more interesting than normal because of the uncertainties with free agency. We might not have a free-agency period before the draft, which means teams could have more areas than usual to address. The Jets need outside linebackers, a left guard and safety help. But they also might need a wide receiver if they can't bring back the free agents we discussed earlier.
Chris (New York)
What are the odds that the Dolphins head into next season with Chad Henne taking the snaps?
Tim Graham (3:09 PM)
Pretty high, I think. I predict he'll be the opening day starter.
Eric (North Buffalo)
Have you seen a sample of the new unis?
Tim Graham (3:10 PM)
I have not, but I hope to soon. I've refrained from writing anything about the Bills switching uniforms because I know the readers' first question will be "What do they look like?" The only thing we know is the helmet logo will include the charging buffalo, which is a bit of a disappointment to me. I like the classic red, standing buffalo.
Put on your Belichick hoodie, looking at this years draft who is that one sleeper player that the Patriots might select with their first round picks that will have people asking themselves, why?
Tim Graham (3:14 PM)
OK ... Here's an example of what I was referring to earlier. Would readers get any kind of worthwhile insight from me yanking a name or two out of a hat? Or opening a draft guide and blindly pointing to a name? I know there are reporters out there who throw out some names in February and leave you thinking "Hey, that guy just named two college players who might be late first-round or early second-round picks!" I'm sorry, but I just can't get into closing my eyes and throwing darts.
While you might be right abotu Chad Henne being the starter (for better or worse), I've got to believe the organization will give him at least some competition. Any idea which way they'll swing to address the QB situation? I don't see Pennigton or Thigpen returning
Tim Graham (3:17 PM)
Chad Pennington would appear to be a long shot. Even if he COULD play, the Dolphins can't be comfortable with him as their top backup. He's simply not reliable physically. I would suspect the Dolphins draft a quarterback, and how early that rookie is selected will determine the level of veteran they might add. But the questions revolving around free agency and the inability to make trades are an X-factor.
What do you see as the dolphins real needs to become a contender in the AFC outside of RB which I feel we will take care of in the draft? (I feel Chad Henne will be our starter)
Tim Graham (3:19 PM)
Improved quarterback play, obviously, is mandatory. Interior offensive linemen also will be targeted this offseason, a center and at least one guard.
Is Phillip Hunt who is being wooed from the CFL a better prospect than Cameron Wake?
Tim Graham (3:20 PM)
No, Hunt is not that dynamic of a player. Cameron Wake in the CFL was an obnoxious pass-rusher. Wake's success, however, has teams on the lookout and willing to take chances on specialists like Hunt.
Chaim (New York)
Hey Tim. Big fan of your work. I was curious how a lot of the nfl seemed to so quickly pick up on vontae davis's progression this season. By week 2, Favre was praiing Davis as someone who you don't want to throw to.
Tim Graham (3:22 PM)
Thanks for reading the blog, Chaim. Were teams avoiding Vontae Davis or picking on Jason Allen and Sean Smith on the other side? The latter was more of a factor than Davis turning into an elite corner. Davis has the physical tools to get there, but he still gets burned on occasion.
b (charleston, sc)
why does that guy get to post the same question twice and none of my questions ever make it to the board?!
Tim Graham (3:23 PM)
I don't look at who asks the question. I get an avalanche of them and pick the ones I can answer as quickly as possible to keep the chat moving.
AJ (New York)
Hey Tim, Not gonna say big fan, Ive def. had different views on your articles but anyway...Schottenheimer The Terrible, what are the chances that the Jets bring Callahan into the picture after Titans are showing interest and the Jets wont let him take interview? Possibility of him taking over for Schotty? Rex can only protect him for so long.
Tim Graham (3:25 PM)
The Jets are happy with Brian Schottenheimer, and there's no reason to get Bill Callahan involved just because another team wanted to speak with him. The Jets are under no obligation to rearrange their coaching duties to keep Callahan from leaving because he's under contract.
Mike (Lake Tahoe)
With the restructuring of Will Allen's contract in Miami, do you think he can step in and be a legitimate nickel corner or safety?
Tim Graham (3:26 PM)
If his knee isn't a problem, then absolutely. But let's not rule out the possibility of him being the starting right cornerback either.
Buffalo - Bigger need - LT or DT?
Tim Graham (3:28 PM)
Defensive tackle. They certainly could stand to upgrade at left tackle, but they must bolster their feeble run defense.
Looking back was trading Ted Ginn a good move or a bad move for miami who is now lacking both a good returner and a speedy WR?
Tim Graham (3:31 PM)
At the time the Dolphins made that move, I said their offense would be better with him. But I also can appreciate the sentiment that he had to go. Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland are quick cut bait on players they've grown weary of. That's often a good thing, but I'd be curious to see what Miami's offense would have looked like with Brandon Marshall and Ted Ginn. It's not like it had to be one or the other. They're two totally different players.
Mankins - tagged and traded or signed long term?
Tim Graham (3:33 PM)
What if a court agrees with the NFL Players Association and strikes down the league's ability to use franchise tags at all? Hooray! More CBA uncertainty!
Packers in the NFC, Patriots in the AFC as the two best teams next year - agree or disagree?
Tim Graham (3:35 PM)
Those are two easily justifiable favorites. Those rosters are more settled than most heading into this weird offseason. The Jets have a loaded team, BUT free agency could change that in a hurry. They could go from have a loaded receiver corps to a substantially weaker one, and Mark Sanchez is the kind of player who needs a strong supporting cast.
While Demetrius Bell played ok at LT last season I'm not quite sure that Bell is a guy that allows Mrs. Fitzpatrick to sleep easy at night. Do you think Bell could be a good (in comparison to mediocre) RT or do you think what we saw last year is what we get with him?
Tim Graham (3:38 PM)
I would agree with your statement. Bell was decent last year, but not as strong as you want out of your blindside protector. Plus, he's clearly the best tackle on the roster. If the Bills actually draft a solid tackle -- they amazingly haven't taken one earlier than the fifth round since 2002 -- then Bell certainly could be flipped to the other side.
Instead of asking about Buffalo drafting a QB, shouldn't we be asking ourselves something like, "What's Fitzpatrick's ceiling if he had a top-5/top-10 offensive line?" I think he's a very competent QB with better protection.
Tim Graham (3:42 PM)
The Bills were above average when it came to sacks allowed this year. They gave up 34 sacks, which was tied for 14th. I don't think being sacked 10 fewer times over the course of a season will turn Ryan Fitzpatrick into a star.
Do you think the NFL will have a new CBA before next season?
Tim Graham (3:44 PM)
I'm confident -- even with the recent turbulence. I covered the NHL lockout when an entire season was wiped out. While there certainly could be a protracted NFL dispute, I don't see the brewing ugliness like I did with the NHL's labor Armageddon. But it is early yet ...
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What does the 4 teams in the AFC East Need in the 2011 NFL DRaft?
Tim Graham (3:44 PM)
I wrote a lengthy story on that a couple days ago: http://espn.go.com/blog/afceast/post/_/id/25970/afc-east-draft-season-who-needs-what
The more i thought about your answer reagrding Jets' lack of first quarter TDs the more baffled I get - "because they defer kickoff". If that isn't the worst case of Schotty-apologist sentiment i just dont know what is. Please give me a stat showing his success over the last 5 years besides all the wins that come on the back of the defense.
Tim Graham (3:45 PM)
I don't know how pointing out the Jets defer opening kickoffs makes me a Brian Schottenheimer apologist. He doesn't make that call. Rex Ryan does. But here's one stat off the top of my head: The Jets led the NFL in rushing in 2009.
Is Jake locker a possiblity in the 2nd round? or do you think ryan mallet is a better fit? i personally think locker would be perfect for chan gailey to mold into a starting qb...
Tim Graham (3:48 PM)
Based on reports of those who analyze drafts for a living, Locker seems to be a wild card. Mike Mayock has him rated second, behind Blaine Gabbert and ahead of Cam Newton. Others consider his accuracy too much of a problem to overcome. Accuracy is tough to learn. Mallett is plummeting over perceived character issues.
How about grading The Jets '10 draft?
Tim Graham (3:51 PM)
D, maybe a C-minus ... Kyle Wilson was a disappointment. Valdimir Ducasse couldn't get on the field at one of the team's weakest positions. If not for "Hard Knocks" nobody would have had an opinion on John Conner. Joe McKnight was a mess throughout the offseason, but the Jets had to stand by their investment and kept him instead of Danny Woodhead.
Tim Graham (3:52 PM)
A couple more and then I have to write about the Patriots making some changes to their coaching staff. Bill O'Brien has been named offensive coordinator among other tweaks.
Will (Logan Airport)
I'd give those guys at least one more year to develop before giving a final grade on it, though the Jets have been pretty good at drafting the past 5 years. Better than the Pats I feel.
Tim Graham (3:54 PM)
I agree with that. I was just basing my grade on what they did as rookies. You really never know for at least two years and preferably three.
James (JC, MO)
Why does everyone assume Miami needs to draft a RB? The times I've seen Hilliard, he did not disappoint - he'd get dogpiled and still pick up 3 more yards. Plus, Sheets is apparently lightning fast and the game was starting to click for him in the preseason before the IR. Do you think Miami will start '11 with just Hilliard and Sheets?
Tim Graham (3:56 PM)
Lex Hilliard has looked good in preseason exhibitions, but he has been uninspiring in real games. Kory Sheets was an exciting player last year in training camp and is incredibly fast, but the injury he's returning from his a torn Achilles tendon.
Jason (Camp lejeune, NC)
Trade Henne for a 2nd or 3rd, bring in mcnabb and draft a young qb to be tutored for a year or two? make sense to you? well tell the phins to get on that Thanks!
Tim Graham (3:57 PM)
I'm not all that impressed with a 35-year-old Donovan McNabb.
Scott (Napa, CA)
How come Chris is asking questions you already have answered in the blog and he can still get posted, while I ask unanswered, intelligent questions, and cannnot?
Tim Graham (3:59 PM)
Because people send hundreds of questions within the span of the chat, and I see 15 of them at a time. I have no idea what question you asked. As for answering a question that already has been addressed on the blog, a large percentage of people who come to chats don't read the blog. They join the chat by spending time on the SportsNation page.
Bigger Priority for the Dolphins: Ronnie Brown or Paul Soliai?
Tim Graham (4:00 PM)
Paul Soliai is more important to the defense than Ronnie Brown is to the offense. Running backs are easier to find than solid 3-4 defensive tackles.
Why do you post people's complaints that you don't answer their questions? Keep doing it though, they're funny.
Tim Graham (4:01 PM)
What I find hilarious is that Scott's commment was the only thing from him I saw in the steady stream that comes through. I can't possibly read them all. But had he sent an actual question that time, I would have seen it.
The Chat Queen (Toronto)
How will things be different with Bill O'Brien as OC?
Tim Graham (4:02 PM)
Probably not at all. O'Brien called the plays before.
AJ (New York City)
Hey Tim, Sometimes I definately feel you are Anti-Jet, looking in on the negative. Anyway, my question is what do the Jets do about The Big Cat Shaun Ellis? Guy seemed to have performed big in the playoffs, what will his deal most likely be?
Tim Graham (4:05 PM)
I'm probably anti-everybody at some point because I don't root for or against any team. I just call them as I see them, which is why I predicted the Jets would win the AFC East last year and that Mark Sanchez would be a solid quarterback despite a lot of negative feedback. As for Shaun Ellis, his future will depend on whether the Jets feel they can upgrade there. He's well down the list of free agent priorities.
Tim, why do you hate Buffalo so much! And New England! And you obviously don't respect the Dolphins oh and you are definitely anti-Jets! I think that covers everyone!
Tim Graham (4:05 PM)
Scott (Napa, CA)
Do you see Shawn Merriman being an impact player for the Bills this season?
Tim Graham (4:07 PM)
I can't possibly make that prediction. He's a classic example of a player who needs to prove himself all over again before I can have significant expectations. Here's a story I wrote a month ago about the contractual gamble the Bills made: http://espn.go.com/blog/afceast/post/_/id/24815/shawne-merriman-thrilled-with-bills
Tim Graham (4:09 PM)
That's also another example of why I answer questions in the chat that pertain to stuff I've already written on the AFC East blog.
Tim Graham (4:10 PM)
Thanks for dropping by, everybody. There won't be an AFC East chat the next couple of weeks. Next Friday has been called off, and I'll be at the combine the week after that. Have a great weekend.