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, AFC North fans. We had a very busy week with the NFL draft. So let's talk about it.
Pat Grannan (Irvine, CA)
Can you compare and contrast the three AFC North division big WR picks - AJ Green, Torrey Smith and Greg Little ?
James Walker (4:03 PM)
Good question, Pat. Let's start with Green, who I think is the complete package. I haven't talked to one person who didn't like him as a top-notch prospect. Great hands, body control, good speed, but not elite speed. Pretty much has everything you're looking for. Smith is a burner but needs to refine other parts of his game. The Ravens hope he can be more like Mike Wallace was his rookie year, then eventually get better at everything else. Little is a bigger receiver. Not a home-run type receiver, but a guy who can go up and get the ball and break tackles after the catch. They're all different in their own way.
Ryan (San Diego)
Whats your opinion of the Bengals bringing in a veteran QB to groom Dalton for 1 year or so like Kitna did Palmer? Who do you feel would be a good choice if they do go that route?
James Walker (4:05 PM)
Now that the Bengals spent a high-round draft pick on Dalton, I think they should go with him. It's never a bad thing to add a veteran, but the Bengals shouldn't invest a high draft pick to get one. Maybe sign a guy to be a backup. But the team is hoping Dalton answers all of those questions.
Since the Steelers did not draft a corner until the later rounds what are the chances they go after Nnamdi Asomugha, boy would he look good in Black and Gold.
James Walker (4:07 PM)
Not happening, Kurt. Sorry. Name the last big-name free agent the Steelers signed from another team. James Farrior?
Dan (Lynchburg, VA)
Are there anythings drafted players can do now besides sit and wait? I know that all nfl teams are effected but I will use the Ravens as an example. Jimmy Smith has a playbook, can he go over it with Ed Reed? Can Torrey Smith go to a players organized practice to work with Flacco?
James Walker (4:08 PM)
Some things are still unclear, Dan, because of the timing. But to my understanding those rookies drafted Thursday in the first round had access to getting playbooks. Then everything shut down again, so the NFL closed up shop. I'm sure some players/rookies have them and some don't.
Jimmy Smith (Bmore)
Will I be the steal of the 2011 draft?
James Walker (4:09 PM)
It depends on whether you stay out of trouble. The Ravens are confident that you will. You should fit in well with that defense.
Ryan Mallett (MA)
So, what position do you think I'll earn on the depth chart with the Pats?
James Walker (4:10 PM)
You will be the No. 2 quarterback behind Tom Brady. Not a bad player to learn from.
The real Andy Dalton (TCU)
Am I the best draft pick of the AFCN in terms of value / needNo need to answer, I know I am
James Walker (4:12 PM)
What's the deal with all these players checking in today? It must be the lockout. There are some questions about you, Andy, as there is about all the quarterbacks in the this draft. But if you turn out to be a franchise quarterback as a second-round pick, that would be very good value for the Bengals.
phillip atlanta georgia [via mobile]
In the nfc do you see the falcons coming out on top, and do you see them trying to make some significant additions when free agency starts
James Walker (4:14 PM)
I like the Falcons' talent, Phillip. But it's too early to make any predictions. Don't forget, teams still have a chance to improve or fall down a couple rungs with free agency.
Travis Irwin (Chillicothe Ohio)
Do you see the Browns targeting a veteran wide receiver in free agency? If so, who?
James Walker (4:16 PM)
It won't be a big name, Travis. Believe it or not, the Browns actually like their receivers and believe they are underrated. The coaching staff thinks it can get more out of Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi than what Eric Mangini and Brian Daboll did. So with that and the addition of Greg Little, the Browns feel they are improved.
Trent (Greenville, SC)
What do you think of the possible combination of Peyton Hillis and Owen Marecic in the Browns' back field?
James Walker (4:19 PM)
I think it's very possible. I spoke to Lawrence Vickers the other day and he doesn't expect to come back. Marecic is probably the starter who will block for Hillis, and the Browns are hoping to rotate a healthier Montario Hardesty in there, as well.
If Ike Taylors value is going up in Pgh, does it make sense to pay him the money he wants or spend a little more and get a better free agent (Namdi, Cromartie)?
James Walker (4:21 PM)
Nnamdi's price tag will be through the roof. So rule that out Steelers fans. Ike Taylor is a few notches below and makes it more likely that he will return. But the going rate right now for corners is high and both sides will have to reach a middle ground. I don't see the Steelers chasing a player like Cromartie.
How do you see the AFC North shaking out this year? I predict Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Browns.
James Walker (4:22 PM)
It's too early to make predictions. But the only prediction I've made so far is Baltimore and Pittsburgh will compete for the AFC North title, and the Browns and Bengals are still rebuilding and remain a couple years away.
Michael (Los Gatos, CA)
Have the Steelers finally given up on Tony Hills (OT), or is there some reason they've kept him around and inactive the last couple of years?
James Walker (4:26 PM)
I can't speak for the coaching staff, but I've never been impressed with Hills when I saw him in training camp and the preseason. The Steelers hoped that he would develop, but it hasn't worked out.
Lawrence Vickers is one of my favorite players, and as a Browns fan, one of the players I can point to with pride as being one of the best on any team. Do you see a possible outcome where he remains a Brown?
James Walker (4:28 PM)
Anything is possible. But I don't see it happening. The Browns are running a West Coast offense next year and will need a lot of receivers and tight ends for multiple formations. It's pretty unlikely they want to carry two fullbacks on their roster.
Matt (Florence, SC)
How long can the lock-out continue until it prevents the rookies from seeing meaning ful playing time?
James Walker (4:30 PM)
Interesting question, Matt. But I don't have a clear answer for it. I think it's going to be different for every rookie. Some are more NFL ready than others, and some will stay in shape on their own better than others. The players I worry about most are the quarterbacks. They have so much responsibility where they not only have to know their jobs, but everyone else's. Players like Andy Dalton and Colt McCoy need the reps.
Matt (Florence, SC)
Do you think either of the Steelers OL draft picks will see significant playing time this year?
James Walker (4:32 PM)
It depends on injuries, which usually happen over the course of the year. Marcus Gilbert has a shot if he develops. But I want to see how he performs in camps first. He may or may not be ready.
What kind of season would Colt McCoy have to have for you to consider him the franchise QB? How poorly would he have to do to be given up on as the starter?
James Walker (4:35 PM)
It's usually not about stats for me as a quarterback. I want to know if this player someone a team can win with. If Colt McCoy can play smart football and win games, he will earn respect in that locker room and keep the job long term. If McCoy is a quarterback the Browns can't win with or rely on, he won't keep the job for long.
Patrick (Charlottesville, VA)
James, the Steelers have the "Steeler Way" where a rookie has to climb the ladder to earn playing time. However, if they do not sign I. Taylor, how fast does C. Brown get on the field as a starting corner or nickleback?
James Walker (4:38 PM)
They will need someone to step up. Right now it would be Bryant McFadden and some combo of Crezdon Butler, Keenan Lewis, Brown or Allen. Adding a veteran in free agency is an option, too, if Taylor doesn't return.
Mike Pouncey (Miami)
I was drafted before my brother. Will I be more productive than him?
James Walker (4:40 PM)
Make the Pro Bowl your rookie year. Then we will talk about it.
Chris (LONGTIME BENGALS FAN) (Cincinnati)
With the Bengals drafting AJ Green just a rookie do we release Chad Ochocinco or do we keep him and have Green shadow him for a year?
James Walker (4:42 PM)
It's likely either a trade or release. Ochocinco is in the final year of his deal that pays more than $6 million. So it will be a matter of if any team is willing to pay that for a declining receiver. But I don't expect the team to keep Ochocinco on the roster.
Can the Ravens to keep Wilson and Carr and Foxworth, now that they drafted Jimmy Smith? If not, who do you think gets cut loose?
James Walker (4:43 PM)
Both Josh Wilson and Chris Carr are pending free agents. So I think it's a safe bet that one or both do not return now that Smith is in the fold.
Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh)
Cool it bro. You were drafted a year AFTER me.
Pat S (Milwaukee)
In your opinion is Rothlesburger in the top 5 of Quarterbacks
James Walker (4:46 PM)
I ranked Ben Roethlisberger No. 4 in our recent quarterback Power Rankings. He came in at No. 5 overall from our panel of eight people.
Do you see Jimmy Smith and Laradrius Webb as the starting cornerbacks for the ravens next year?
James Walker (4:47 PM)
It's too early to say. But I would project Smith and Domonique Foxworth if he's 100-percent healthy. He should be by training camp. Webb has a shot, as well.
Do you have any 'sleeper' feelings towards either the Browns or Bengals?
James Walker (4:49 PM)
I correctly called the 2008 Ravens and 2009 Bengals as my sleeper picks for those seasons. But I haven't felt any "sleepers" in the divison the past two seasons. I don't think that will change this year.
Kyle Hopkins (Oxford Ohio)
With two 1st round picks in next years draft, could the Browns be a playoff team in two years?
James Walker (4:53 PM)
I tend to take things year-to-year, Kyle. But I like what the Browns are doing. They are not one player away from contending, which is why I've said they're at least two years away.
James, which 1st round CB do you think will have the best career: Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara, or Jimmy Smith?
James Walker (4:54 PM)
I really like Patrick Peterson. I think he's the real deal and probably the safest pick in this draft.
If you were the Raven's GM or owner, how much of a beef would you have with the Bears? What sort of compensation would you want (if any)?
James Walker (4:56 PM)
I thought it was fair to ask for the fourth-round pick, and I understood the NFL not granting it when nothing was made official. It's not the NFL's fault. This was between the Bears and Ravens and Chicago screwed it up. If the Bears didn't want to do the honorable thing, the Ravens just had to take the loss.
You gonna comment on Mendenhall's twitter statements?
James Walker (5:00 PM)
I wrote a blog about it recently. When we wrap up this chat, check it out.
James Walker (5:00 PM)
Thank you for the great questions. Remember to check out the AFC North blog and AFC North Twitter for the latest updates on the division.