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)
Hello, everyone. Let's see what's on your mind this week with the lockout and NFL draft.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What AFC North Team is Hurting very Badly with this Lock out?
James Walker (4:02 PM)
I wrote several times that the Browns will suffer the most. They have a new offense, a new defense, a rookie head coach and a young quarterback. Cleveland needs all this to be figured out ASAP so it can get started with its offseason program. But Mike Holmgren sounded confident yesterday that the team will be prepared.
Jamal Smith (Allegheny,PA)
Do you see any desirable cities out their that could use an NFL Franchise in the near future inlcuding Los Angeles but is their any other US City that could support an NFL team perhaps?
James Walker (4:05 PM)
Los Angeles would be No. 1 on my list. I think all other cities would be a distant second. There are stadium plans in place, a huge media market, and a city that's had NFL football before. It makes sense to me. Baseball, hockey and basketball have pro teams there. Why not the NFL?
James (Santa Clarita, CA)
Hey James, Any chance the bengals do the smart thing and try to make a trade for kevin Kolb? Would the eagles take chad jhonson and a draft pick?
James Walker (4:07 PM)
Trades and free agency are very hard to gauge right now, because by rule no one is talking without a CBA in place. I'm not sure the Eagles want to give up their security with Kolb. The draft right now is the only thing that's certain and I think the Bengals should act accordingly and pick a QB next month in the first three rounds.
Patrick (Boulder, CO)
Good afternoon James, What happens to the season if the lockout lasts until August? WIll everything be shortened?
James Walker (4:11 PM)
In the past, the regular season has been shortened. I don't think we're going to miss any games. To me that's the real deadline, because that's when the real money is lost on both sides. Players and owners don't get paid without games. But if it goes that far, the league will have to reduce the regular season.
Do you anticipate fewer draft day trades this year due to the lockout?
James Walker (4:14 PM)
I actually think there will be more trades or about the same. The potential rookie wage scale is huge. If you have a top-10 pick, and there is less pressure because you don't have the promise $40-$70 million to unproven players, teams will be jumping at the chance to trade up. Being wrong in the top 10 won't cripple your franchise nearly as much.
Is it likely that the Browns will use a non-1st round pick to bring in another developmental QB / competition for McCoy? I think they have something in McCoy, a relative steal in the 3rd Round.
James Walker (4:16 PM)
Browns president Mike Holmgren says he will draft a quarterback. He didn't say what round, but I don't think it will be that high. These recent flirtations with Cam Newton seem more like a smokescreen. The Browns don't want another quarterback controversy this year. They've had enough of those.
If you had to rank top 15 (your top 10 then the other 5 who received votes) how would your 11-15 went out of McCoy, Mcfadden, Thomas Jones, Hillis and LT?
James Walker (4:17 PM)
I only considered LeSean McCoy and Darren McFadden for No. 10, which eventually went to Rashard Mendenhall. So I would say McCoy, McFadden, Hillis, Tomlinson of the players you mentioned.
JW, do you have your bracket finished yet? Who ya got?
James Walker (4:18 PM)
I still haven't decided if I'm doing a bracket. With the Steelers making it all the way to the Super Bowl, I didn't get to watch much college basketball this year until a few weeks ago.
Brett (Avon Lake, OH)
Will the new west coast offense bring out the strengths of Massaquoi & Robiskie, or should Browns fans be expecting more of the same at the WR position?
James Walker (4:21 PM)
Hard to say. I think the Browns are still trying to figure out what MoMass and Robo bring to the table. Eric Mangini never got the best out of them, and that's a big responsibility for Pat Shurmur in his first year.
Este (Cupertino, CA)
Hey James, I have been wondering about the possibility of the Browns drafting Von Miller. The guy looks like a rock solid prospect. He has great athletic ability, proven production, and sky high intangibles. While the Browns need Defensive linemen and a #1 WR in the worst ways they dont have a stud OLB either. I know there is a report that Miller will work out for the Browns before the draft but how likely are the Browns to draft Miller?
James Walker (4:23 PM)
The Browns are certainly interested and will bring in Miller next month for a visit. Anytime a linebacker runs a 4.49, you have to take notice. But the Browns need defensive linemen and receivers too bad, and I think those two positions will be the priority.
Cameron (Eugene, OR)
Can you predict a Super Bowl matchup based on everything right now?
James Walker (4:24 PM)
Oakland's scabs vs. Detroit's scabs.
James Walker (4:25 PM)
Just kidding. It's too early. The draft and free agency are huge elements.
Robert (Los Angeles)
What's your gut feeling on what the Bengals will do with Carson Palmer? Is Carson bluffing on the retirement issue?
James Walker (4:27 PM)
If the lockout goes past the draft, I think the Bengals hold firm and see if Carson Palmer retires. I think Palmer is sincere in his feelings about not playing for the Bengals. But the only person who knows if he will change his mind is Palmer.
Do you think the lockout is actually going to make for a thrilling free agency when it ends? I figure if it goes till May or anytime after the draft it'll be a frenzy.
James Walker (4:29 PM)
This year will be unique, for sure. Due to the tenders and uncapped year last season, there are more free agents than usual. And if teams have a short amount of time to sign them all, it's going to be crazy.
David (Gallatin, TN)
Do you think that Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert have that much upside as compared to Dan LaFevour (spelling)? I mean statistically speaking they did not outperform Dan by a vast amount that would suggest that they are far and away better. I think the Bengals have just as good a shot with LaFevour at QB as they do either of the aforementioned players, considering they use this draft to sure up both DL and OL, thoughts?
James Walker (4:32 PM)
I think the Bengals need to draft a QB in the first 2-3 rounds. I'm not advocating who that QB should be. But I don't think Dan LeFevour is the answer.
Do you really think that CB is an area of need for the Steelers considering they've drafted Butler, Lewis & Burnett in the past 2 drafts?
James Walker (4:33 PM)
All of those cornerbacks were mid- to low-round draft picks, and none have proven to be ready to start next season.
Do any of the injuries to Aaron Smith, Troy, and Pouncey look like they might pose an issue for these players next year or should they have all healed by then?
James Walker (4:34 PM)
No injury issues with either of them. Smith already had surgery and Polamalu and Pouncey will not require surgery. Time to heal for these three is the only thing that's needed.
Matt (Oxford, Ohio)
If Patrick Peterson is available, should the Browns take him no matter what and pair him with Joe Haden?
James Walker (4:35 PM)
I like Patrick Peterson a lot, and I think he's going to be a stud. But the Browns have bigger needs at DL and WR. Unless Peterson is going to play both ways, I think the Browns should fill one of those two needs. They drafted a CB and a S in the first two rounds last year.
Brian (Gettysburg, pa)
What are the chances pouncey falls to the steelers and do they take him at 31?
James Walker (4:39 PM)
Not likely, Brian. Mike Pouncey is a really good prospect. I don't think he gets past the early 20s.
Brian (Gettysburg, pa)
Who is your pick to win the north as the teams stand now?
James Walker (4:39 PM)
It can go either way between Bengals scabs or Browns scabs. It's a really tough call.
James Walker (4:40 PM)
Too early to tell, Brian. But I've already said it will probably come down to Pittsburgh or Baltimore again.
Robert (Los Angeles)
One last thing on the Bengals. Is Marvin Lewis really the guy in the Queen's City? He must have 9 lives by now. Or is the organization still really high on him.
James Walker (4:42 PM)
Marvin Lewis is the best the Bengals can get, Robert. They could've hired an unproven assistant, but that's always a risk. Personally, I never viewed Lewis as a bad coach. I just think he's in a bad situation. Look at Cincinnati's records before Lewis arrived.
JW - would you agree that a team like Pittsburgh, with a lot of veteran leadership, can actually benefit from extra time off due to the CBA expiring? I personally think they could gel much quicker than other teams because they've worked together for so many years. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks man!
James Walker (4:44 PM)
I don't think any team really benefits from this lockout. Just some teams will be less impacted than others. The Steelers will be fine. They've had the same program in place for a long time. I'm less worried about them than any team in the division.
matt (chapel hill)
james, love the blog. you do a great job. today i saw sports illustrateds mock draft with the steelers taking aaron williams from texas. do you know anything about him? this is the first ive heard of his as a 1st rounder or connected to the steelers
James Walker (4:46 PM)
Williams is a good prospect. Physical, aggresive and a solid tackler. I think he would fit in well with Pittsburgh.
Hey JW. If we're locked out through the draft, do you see the Ravens targetting a RB in the middle-to-late rounds, under the assumption that McClain and McGahee will both be gone once a new CBA is in place?
James Walker (4:50 PM)
The Ravens should target a running back at some point regardless of the lockout. Ray Rice is great, but the Ravens have to be careful to get him some help to keep him fresh. Baltimore also needs a fullback, because I don't expect McClain to be back, either.
Think the Steelers would move up to draft Pouncy and under what conditions?
James Walker (4:52 PM)
If it's not too costly there is a chance. But Pittsburgh may have to move up about 10 spots. So I don't see it happening.
What's your opinion of the possible chance of top prospects being asked not to show up for the draft? I think its a shame considering how big of a day it is in their life.
James Walker (4:54 PM)
I'm not a big fan of it. But things can get ugly in negotiations. So I'm not surprised by anything that's happening from either side.
Jake (Bay Minette, AL)
JW- Is there a chance that players who declared for the draft will decommit and go back to school, due to the lockout?
James Walker (4:55 PM)
I don't see that happening. A majority have already hired agents and would automatically lose their eligibility.
If the Lockout lasts till summer and the players cant do camps, what are they going to do about the players staying in shape? Is it up to the player to gauge that?
James Walker (4:57 PM)
Players are on their own right now. They can get together and work out with teammates if they want. But there is no contact between players and teams.
josh (tel aviv, israel)
i know there has been a lot of talk about how the bengals may draft cam newton number 4 overall but if bowers is still available that's a no brainer right?
James Walker (4:59 PM)
The Bengals are unpredictable, so I wouldn't be surprised either way. But if I had to choose between the two, I would take the DE for that particular team. But Bowers has a few concerns also.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Thanks again for your time. Remember to check out the AFC North blog and AFC North Twitter for constant updates on the division.