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 (4:02 PM)
We've got Gary!
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I find it interesting that a lot of people think that this draft won't get particularly high ratings because there's no football and that adversely effects the interest. But I think just the opposite. When I talk to people, they say the draft is all they have for football right now. And without free agency, this may be your team's best chance to add players that actually matter. Usually, you use the early free agency period to fill needs and that allows you to draft the best athlete on the boards in most cases. But this year, I think we'll see just the opposite this weekend as teams are forced to fill needs with guys that they might not have ranked as high as another player at another position.
Rich (On the road in Texas)
The Patriots have five choices in the first 2 1/2 rounds, any idea what positions they'll fill first?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
First of all, you always have to be aware that nobody is better in the league in moving around the draft and acquiring extra picks than Belichick. He is a master at moving to the spot where the pick and the value make the most sense. A lot of times that means trading back and acquiring extra picks if he thinks the value isn't there. Having said that, I think they are looking at the defensive front seven and the offensive front seven. They desperately need an outside pass rusher in that 3-4 defense. That's clearly their top need. On offense, they need a OT to start getting ready to replace Matt Light. They need an OG in case Logan Mankins eventually leaves. I also think some surprise picks later could be a WR to add to their stable, maybe a big play guy on the outside. I think they are definitely in the market somewhere for a RB. They need a work horse. This team has so many options and they are so good at moving, I think they will probably be the most active team in the league in the draft.
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
Even though to most people it looks like a smoke screen, don't be surprised if the Patriots, probably more in Day 3 than Day 2, pick a QB of the future for the eventual day that Tom Brady retires. It's not a lock, but you will bet they will try to find a guy they like.
will the Washington redskins team have a new QB by saturday night when the draft closes for sure?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
I really think that they will, as they move on without Donovan McNabb. However, that's easier said than done. Where they are picking may require them to take a guy higher than they want. If Newton and Gabbert are gone, do they reach for Andy Dalton or a Christian Ponder or Ryan Mallett? You would think they would not, espcially with so many players still on the board who are better. The Redskins, when I evaluated them on film, had the most needs of any other team. I don't see a franchise WR, RB. We know about the problem at QB. I just think where they are picking will be very tough, unless they can trade back and then take a QB, to pull the trigger on a guy.
Hey Gary, great job. In order, what do you see as the Texans biggest 3 needs?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
I think their biggest, glaring need is at safety. This was the worst pass defense in the NFL a year ago and good offenses torched them in the middle of the field. But they also need help at CB, even though they have a couple of guys that are coming along. Also, keep in mind this is a new 3-4 defense under Wade Phillips and that means they would really like to get a OLB to be a pass rusher off the edge. It also requires a very specific NTs. Right now they have a few 4-3 DTs but not the guy on the nose. I also think they could use another WR in the draft to take some pressure off of Johnson. But I expect in the first few days for this to be a defensive oriented draft for the Texans.
Mike (Rochester, NY)
Hey Gary: Assuming Cam Newton is off the board and all temptation to take a QB in the first round is removed along with him, should Buffalo look to take a QB in the 2nd/3rd round or continue to add help to their weak defense/offensive line problems?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I think Buffalo has a real dilemma here and I'm not sure I have the answer. I kind of like Ryan Fitzpatrick and there's part of me that thinks he's good enough right now to run this team while they fill so many of their other critical needs. But there's also another part of me that says who are we trying to kid that we need a face of the franchise to start over with. The problem with them is they need tremendous help at DL and OLB to increase their pass rush and run defense. Those happen to be positions of strength that will be looking right at them I think it will come down to them, if they are not willing or able to trade down for a guy like Blaine Gabbert, if they stay at no. 3 to get an impact defensive player. The Bills are a perfect example of a team deciding if they draft need or talent?
Gary (Los Angeles)
Will Harbaugh and the Niners go heavy on defense or do they take a Julio Jones early and help out that enimic offense?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I think they have made a decision to keep Alex Smith and not draft a QB right now. I think that means this is a defensive oriented draft. CB, OLB, NT, DT are their top needs. I do agree that they need a physical WR on the edge that they don't have right now. That would match up well with TE Vernon Davis and give them help in the red zone and on third down. So, it wouldn't shock me if they took a WR higher than we expect. It also wouldn't shock me if they took a RB higher than we thought as Gore continues to age. I would think their first two picks are defensive picks, unless a great WR is staring them in the eyes.
Who are the Falcons going to draft in the 1st round?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
Their needs are DE and OLB. They don't get enough plays out of those positions. Right now an aging John Abraham is their best sack guy. I think they would love to find a 4-3 edge rusher to play with Abraham and eventually replace him. I also think they'd like to have an OLB to play the run blitz and drop back into coverage. Also keep in mind that this team doesn't have a legit No. 2 WR. They have a TE in Tony Gonzalez that's close to the end. Both of those are critical in this offense. The other thing I think they could address is CB. This defense plays a lot of nickel packages and that requires multiple corners. I don't think they have enough depth right now.
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
Also, we can't overlook the OL as both guards are slated to become free agents along with their ROT. There is better depth inside if they lose some players, but if they lose their OT, this becomes a bigger need. And as we've said, we have no idea if that will happen as we go through this draft.
John G (Wis)
Everyone raves about how great New England is at the draft. But in reality by moving around so much they have missed out on some seriously good talent. Clay Mathews, Greg Jennings just to name a couple. I personally feel they are overated in the draft process...
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I think the point that we have to acknowledge is the fact that they try to matchup their evaluations of a player with where they want to pick him. They are very clear, whether they are right or wrong on where they think a player should be drafted. That's why they try to move to that spot. You can criticize their grades being wrong, but I think they are the shrewdest team in the league, saying that they think a player is worthy of being in the second round so they will try to move to the second round to match talent. There are a lot of teams in this league that don't care what other teams do. They make a grade of a player and then they go and get him. I don't understand that, because I think you need to be aware of where other teams rank a player. When I was a scout, I'd have a coach come to me and say they want a player and ask me where we could get him. If I had a good feel for the draft, I might tell him we can wait another round. If you like a guy and think he's a fourth rounder, maybe you take him in the third round. You just don't have to take him in the first or second.
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
What's funny now is even though we won't hear a lot from teams, there is a lot of talking going on as teams are trying to get information on where players are perceived on various draft boards. While this is a fun time for a scout as you try to figure everything out, it's also a ridiculously dangerous time because anyone any good in this business will give you a lot of misinformation and try to lead you down the wrong path. You have to take everything with a grain of salt. It's the ultimate three-day chess match.
Buzzmaster (4:32 PM)
Thanks for chatting Gary!