Chat with Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, Scouts Inc.'s Gary Horton stops in to talk about the NFL season and other news from around the league.
Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.
Send your questions now and join Horton Monday at 4 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (4:00 PM)
We're getting Gary!
Buzzmaster (4:02 PM)
On to the question!
what are the vikings going to do in the draft? do they have enough to trade for kolb?
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
I think Minnesota is in a really tough situation, because their window of dominating is closing faster than people realize. However, I think that they think they still have enough veteran talent to make a run for the next year or two before they have to rebuild. Because of that, I think they're stuck with having to look for a veteran QB. Kolb would be an excellent choice, but I don't think the Eagles will let him go. As great as Vick played, there's no assurance that he can do this for 16 games a year or even 18. I'm not so sure that the Eagles will keep him another year. In my mind, Minnesota is on the edge of either being really good for one more year if they get some good QB play, or they could fall apart because of age or injury and become a team that has to totally rebuild.
Chad in St. Louis, Mo [via mobile]
Hello Gary, I know everything is somewhat on hold and hard to determine with the cba situation but, what do you see the Rams doing this off season to aquire the talent needed at wideout for the up and coming Sam Bradford? Of course that's me being optimistic with the cba!
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
They've got to upgrade their receiving corps, first and foremost. I'm not sure they have a No. 1 guy that demands tough coverages. Bradford needs that go-to guy. Obviously, they have to look at the OL to give him protection. They have some pieces in place. I like their defense. But Bradford needs more weapons, there's no question about it. This is a team on the rise.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
I know the last 5 Super Bowl champs failed to win a playoff game the following season. Assuming they actually play football in 2011, it seems like the injuries the Packers suffered in 2010 will work in their favor in 2011. I say that because everyone will be fighting for their roster spot as opposed to holding out for a new contract. What are your thoughts on whether the Packers can evade the Super Bowl hangover?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
To be honest, I think the hangover is just a fluke thing. I don't think there is any particular reason for it. These are good teams that get to the Super Bowl. I don't buy into the fact that they all fall apart because of off-season celebrations.
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I think that Green Bay is unique because they're young. They have game-changing weapons at every position. And, as you mentioned, the biggest thing is they have so many guys on IR coming back that will energize this team. Those are guys that didn't play that will inject enthusiasm into that roster. I think the makeup to this team, as good as it was in the Super Bowl will be even better because of that.
Buzzmaster (4:09 PM)
Hang on a second folks. Gary is walking around the harbor in San Diego near his home.
What do you think of Michael Crabtree?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
It seemed to me that he played better late in the year. There is no question about his talent. I think his work ethic and his attitude were a question mark early in the season. If he has the right mental outlook and he works at it, he can be a true No. 1 guy and a legit No. 1 threat. But it remains to be seen if he can keep that focus the entire season. That's the key, it's not physical.
what position do you see the lions taking LB, OL, or DB and who would be the best fit?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I think you hit it on the nail exactly. Their DL plays hard and I like them, but they need more game-changers at LB and in the secondary. Their secondary gives up too many big plays. They need some athletes back there that can play man coverages. That will make the DL even better, if QBs are having to hold on to the ball. I agree with you that the OL is always something to look at to protect Stafford, who we hope is not an injury prone guy.
Chad in Missouri [via mobile]
Gut feeling Gary, do you see D. McNabb starting next year?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
Well, I don't even know where he's going to be. Assuming he leaves Washington, my guess is that he goes to a team that he starts for because they will be desperate. My guess is Arizona and Minnesota are at the top of the places he could start, because they are so bad at that position. I still think he has some good years left. I do not think he's a backup at this stage of his career.
It seems as if some people dont think the raiders are on the upswing, but It looks to me that they have a lot of nice young players who will most likely improve. What is your assessment on oakland heading into the future
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
I think they are on the upswing, because I think that they played pretty good defense the last few years. Now, I like the way their offense is playing. They have a potentially good run game. They have a good pass game. Hue Jackson is a good play caller. They play hard on defense. If they don't lose a ot of guys, there is some young talent here.
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
I think you could classify the Raiders in 2011 as a team that nobody wants to play. You don't know what you're going to get each week, but if you get them at their best, they're tough to knock out.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
I predict that the Packers will win the NFC North in 2011 with the Lions finishing second but missing the playoffs, the Bears finishing third, and the Vikings finishing fourth. What are your early predicts for how the NFC North will shake out in 2011?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I probably have a little different take on it. Green Bay is clearly the class of the division. Minnesota is headed for a little bit of a fall and rebuild. The Bears, in all honesty, probably played better than they are. The Lions are improving, but I don't think they're a playoff team. To me, we're looking at an elite Packers team, and everyone else being around .500. It's a competitive division, but there is only one really good team in it.
Gary, are you sold on Jimmy Clausen? Do you think the Panthers should stick with him try to trade/draft for someone else?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
I wasn't sold on him coming out of college as a guy who could carry a franchise. I'm probably sold less on him now. I just didn't see stretches of really good play as a rookie, even though he had a lousy surrounding cast. I didn't like the decision making. I didn't see exciting plays. I think they're really in trouble at the QB position. I hope Clausen turns into a really good NFL QB, but I don't think Carolina can go into this season feeling that he's their guy. They're in a dilemma. Do they bite the bullet and try to develop him? Or do they draft another QB on a team that has so many other needs?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
This would be really interesting if Luck were in the draft.
Garrett (Long Beach, CA)
How much longer do you see the Chargers window for being Super Bowl contenders? To me next year might be very important because the Chiefs are only going to get better as an organization with the way Scott Pioli drafts and keeps bringing in talent.
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I think the Chiefs are the team that San Diego has to watch, because they're young and are getting better. But I think the Chargers are very good in personnel in terms of adding players and evaluating. They've let some guys go and brought in other guys to not get old. So, I don't think they'll fall apart. But they need help at the WR position. Philip Rivers can do it all, if he has the cast around him. Defensively, they need to upgrade that pass rush that used to be so good. This is still a good team. With Mathews developing at RB, this could be a very potent offense, especially if TE Gates can stay healthy, which is not a sure thing.
Chad in Missouri [via mobile]
Although his regular season record speaks for itself, do you think Andy Reid has run his course in Philly? If not, what's it going to take for the eagles to get over that hump of the post season, shall I say, "choke artist"?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
Everybody always wants to say that after you've been at a place for 10 years, it's time to move on in the NFL. But Reid is so steady. His organization is so good that I think he can continue to be very effective. His players play hard for him. They do a good job in personnel. They're a team that sometimes will go deep in the playoffs and sometimes won't. I think they're very talented and well coached.
How will Rob Ryan change the Cowboys defense? What do you think of Mike Jenkins coming off a horrible down year?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I think they'll be more aggressive. I think they'll love his flamboyant style of attacking. I think that will make up for some of their personnel deficiencies on defense. This group did not create enough big plays a year ago and that put too much pressure on the offense. That will change next season as they will fly to the ball. They will play a lot of man schemes and be very creative, unlike their conservative 3-4 approach from a year ago.
NFC East next year 1-4? I think Eagles, Cowboys, Giants, Redskins.
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
I would probably exactly agree with you. I think we have three competitive teams and I think Washington will really struggle. But they will get better as they get better players. But I don't think there is much to separate between the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants. I think the Cowboys are the most talented of the three, if they play like it.
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
That is a good division.
Is it worth it for the Vikings do give up their high 1st rounder for Kolb since there window is closing or to just build for the next window and trade away some older pieces?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
Well, I think there are so many things that goes into the Vikings situation. They desperately want a new stadium. The best way to do that is to win. If they start over and go young for the next 3-4 years, there won't be as much sentiment to give them a new place to play. I think they still have enough quality players to make a run. This is not a broken down team, but it's a team that maybe you can see the end. They still have a great running game and passing game, when healthy. Their problems are age in the DL, not enough cover guys in the secondary and an OL that has let them down. But keep in mind, we went into this season with a strong feeling that another Brett Favre year like he had in 2009 made this a Super Bowl team. So, maybe we were right in assuming that good QB play can get them a deep playoff run. In my opinion, they have to do whatever is necessary to get a quality veteran QB. I don't think the rookie route is the way to go.
Charlie (San Diego)
Gary, these trick shot videos from the UConn and Monmouth QBs are pretty interesting. But can we get anything from them, in terms of a prospect evaluation?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
Probably deep down you'd like to admit that it shows accuracy, but football guys are such purists that they'd tell you that those videos mean nothing. Football guys hate those stunts. I can't imagine a real QB prospect doing that. Can you imagine Bill Parcells evaluating a guy throwing at a book that someone's reading while sitting at a desk? I wonder about a guy who puts something out there like and how serious he is. I can say hitting a goal post from 40 yards out is interesting, but, guess what? I'm going to watch you on film. How many deep passes did you throw for a touchdown? If doing these kinds of throws is in the context of a football skills challenge, that's probably where you could gain something from it, where you have several guys doing the same thing. But as a random thing, I don't think anyone takes it seriously. You might, if you saw something you really like, look a little further at a guy, ask for some more film on the guy after seeing the video. But football guys are old school guys. They're going to say it means nothing. If it was something I saw, and I was in a personnel department, it might catch my eye and get me to ask for some more film on someone, but I would never, ever give a guy a tryout or anything just based on that.
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
Let's hope that the two sides keep meeting and we can resolve this thing. I don't know whether to be optimistic or pessimistic at this stage, but any talking is better than nothing. Hopefully next week we'll feel better about things. Thanks for chatting.