Chat with Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, 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 Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Gary Horton (3:02 PM)
As you all know, this is a busy, busy week in the NFL as we are dealing with the beginnings of free agency, franchise tags, etc. and the combine. So the slight lull after the Super Bowl is officially over.
Scooter, minny [via mobile]
With a full off season do u think ponder will be better in 2012?
Gary Horton (3:03 PM)
To be honest, I don't have a great feel for Ponder yet, either way. I've watched him on film and I like a lot of things that he does, but I don't see enough consistency yet to make me feel very good. But I also know that blocking issues up front and the lack of enough receivers in the passing game are possible excuses that you could make for him. But I just think the jury is still out.
As a scout, what were you looking for at the combine?
Gary Horton (3:06 PM)
There are a lot of things that you try to get done at the combine. Probably the most important are the physicals. They can tell you so much about a player, good and bad. That's a huge emphasis. There is obviously testing and interviews that go on to give you a feel for a player. But in all honesty, you probably get more comfortable with a guy when you go on campus to see him in a private workout. But I loved to see these guys competing on an equal level. That's why I have never understood why guys don't workout at the combine if you're prepared. Every decision maker is watching you, everything is being filmed. If you do a good job, you have a chance to be compared to every other guy that you're competing with for a job. In today's NFL, though, players are coached so well and are so prepared for the combine, that I think at times you have to put it in perspective and not overrate its importance. But it's certainly a piece of the puzzle. But there is still nothing more important than the game film.
Lucas (South Bend)
This will probably be asked more than a lot, but if you controlled the Colts, what would you do with Manning and the No.1 pick?
Gary Horton (3:07 PM)
Well, I don't think there's any question that I think they should draft Andrew Luck. I can understand some reasoning for trying to keep Peyton and let Luck learn for a year or two. But I personally don't think that's the answer. I think the Colts are in a rebuilding mode and I would think that Peyton at this stage of his career has a high importance on winning. I don't know that he can do that in Indy with the time he has left to play. I think both sides could possibly try to come to an amicable departure. I just can't see both QBs being on this roster in the fall.
Caveman! Do you like doing the NFL 32 show?
Gary Horton (3:09 PM)
Yes I do. I obviously have a face made for radio, but I enjoy it. Not necessarily because I'm on TV, but I just love breaking down football. There's nothing more enjoyable for me than breaking down a player or scheme and trying to explain it. I have always thought our game is fascinating in terms of how much deeper it goes, strategy wise, than a lot of people realize. So, yes, I do enjoy it.
Gary Horton (3:09 PM)
When I come on, it probably gives you a good break to get a drink out of the fridge or go to the restroom.
Gary Horton (3:10 PM)
On today's show, we're going to talk about the different drills at the combine and what they mean from a scouting standpoint.
Joe (St. Louis)
Does Bradford still have the high ceiling they predicted when he was drafted? Would a good OL be most of what he needs to get there?
Gary Horton (3:11 PM)
Yes I do. I think his skills haven't even been tapped yet. You're exactly right. He is doing this with a ridiculously poor offensive line that gives him no protection. He has a receiving corps that's near the bottom of the NFL. Until this pass offense can give him enough time to stretch the field and give him some kind of vertical presence, they will struggle. But I think he can ge outstanding if they can fit those other needs.
Rich (New Jersey)
Which big names do you see changing teams in the off season?
Gary Horton (3:13 PM)
I think there's no question that Peyton Manning is the biggest name. I think a lot of the name's we're hearing about now will never get to free agency because so many of the teams will give the players the franchise tag. What may look good on paper in terms of free agency, in reality doesn't always happen, because teams realize the importance of keeping their own guys. There are some exceptions. There are some real challenges for some teams. For the most part, things will settle down in the next week or so.
ross (new york)
where do you think the broncos will finish up at the end of the season?
Gary Horton (3:15 PM)
Oh, i think they're a team on the rise. I like some of their young defensive players. Obviously, a lot of it has to do with their QB position. I would like to see them get a little better at WR. Make sure Tim Tebow has a TE that he's comfortable with. I think they have to address the secondary at the CB position. They're not great when they play spread offenses. It seems like we talk about them every year, but for some reason they've been terrible in finding an answer at the DT position. That needs to be addressed again.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Who are the Packers more likely to slap with the franchise tag, Matt Flynn or JerMichael Finley?
Gary Horton (3:17 PM)
Oh I don't think there's any question that it would be Finley. I think they realize that they're going to lose Matt Flynn because he'll have a lot of suitors. To be honest, I don't think they want to pay a backup QB what the franchise tag will cost. I think Finley becomes the logical guy. On a side note, I read this morning that his agent is trying to get him to be franchised as a WR and not a TE, because there is a large discrepency in the money that you have to pay a franchise WR than a TE. I don't think it's a battle he will win, but it's kind of comical that he would try to sell Finley as a WR because he spreads out so much.
Should the Browns do whatever it takes to move up with the Rams and take RGIII?
Gary Horton (3:19 PM)
I think the Browns may be in the most enviable spot in the draft. There are so many good players available to them at No. 4 that all fill specific needs. If they don't make a move, they're going to get a terrific player. If they do move up, I think RGIII can be a terrific player for them. But, keep in mind he is not well versed in the West Coast offense. I could see Cleveland drafting him while still using Colt McCoy as the starter next year while RGIII got up to speed. The Rams are sitting at that No. 2 spot with probably a lot of offers coming and the Browns will just be one of them, if they decide to make the move.
ross (new york)
Who do you believe needs a big draft to stay competitive next season?
Gary Horton (3:23 PM)
I think Indianapolis would certainly be a team that has all of a sudden been very exposed this year. I think we now realize that Manning covered up a lot of their needs. Also, good teams like Baltimore, their age is an issue. You've got to start replacing those aging stars. Obviously, you look at the teams that have tough free agent decisions. They can really be helped if they have a solid draft. If you're drafting well, it really takes the pressure off of free agency. I would add New England to the list. As good as they are, they have not hit on all of their draft picks in recent years. I believe with so many picks that they have, they really need to hit on the first day of the draft and get some impact players.
When going to the combine, were you looking at one or two specfic players or taking it all in as a whole?
Gary Horton (3:25 PM)
You try to take it in as a whole. You also know that you're going to have all of the measurables, all of the workouts, all of the information, etc. coming back with you from the combine. You'll be able to go over what you see in person time after time. What you do at the combine is you key on specific things, maybe a certain kids' character or a certain guy's flexibility or how a certain guy competes. As a scout you take everything in, you make some initial judgements but you don't overjudge what you see live. The more you can get to know the players individually, the better off you are.
What are the more overrated workouts at the combine? Bench? Squat? Please inform.
Gary Horton (3:26 PM)
I think they all have their places. A lot of people think the bench press is overrated, especially for skill positions. But I think you can see sometimes how competitive a guy is if he's been working on it. I think a lot of these drills I look more at are we red flagging a guy because we see something we don't like as opposed to something we like.
Gary Horton (3:27 PM)
Let me give you an example. The 40-yard dash has been a measuring stick for years. I often times look at the 10 and 20-yard splits from a scouting standpoint with more interest. For the big men, they never run 40 yards. They might run a 1.7 10, a 2.7 in the 20 and a 5.2 in the 40. What that tells me is if he were in perfect condition, he might be able to run a 4.7, but he fades at the end because he isn't trained that way. But that doesn't bother me.
Gary Horton (3:29 PM)
Let's say a WR runs a 1.7 10, 2.7 20 and a 4.5 in the 40. That tells me as a scout that he does not have great initial quickness, he does not have great first step explosion and builds speed as he goes, which is not what you want from a skill position WR. That becomes a huge red flag. Something as simple as the 40, you can really get into some football specifics that matter to you. This doesn't mean you're not going to draft the kid, it just means you have something you need to get cleared up. That's why you have the next two months.
Gary Horton (3:30 PM)
How lucky are we that our game is a 12-month per year proposition? With the exception of a little time in May and June, there is something that should interest us year round. That's what makes this business so much fun.