Chat with Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN's NFL "Caveman" himself, Gary Horton, stops in to talk some football and other news from around the league.
Horton, from Scouts Inc., works year-round on ESPN's NFL-related shows, including NFL32, where he breaks down film, earning him his Caveman nickname.
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!
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
Obviously, free agency has really slowed down now and the draft seems to be front and center for everybody. I love all of the drama that we'll see after the first two picks with the trades, etc. I think the first two hours of the draft will be interesting.
Jace Burgess (Cedar City, Utah)
Does Tebow have a legitimate chance of starting for the Jets by the end of the season?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
That's a hard one for me to answer, because I know how competitive he is, but I also know what his weaknesses are. I honestly don't have this thing figured out with the Jets. I don't know how Sanchez will deal with him being there. I don't know how a Wildcat package will work. And I don't know how good Tebow will be if he's inserted as QB. It's a great challenge for the coaches. It's a long way from being figured out. It's a feast or famine situation. Either the Jets are going to look great or they'll look like a complete mess.
gary just how important are OTAs at this point? Will Brees not being there have an impact?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I don't think it will have an impact, these aren't OTAs, just voluntary workouts with strength coaches. This year is so important because coaches haven't been with their players in the offseason for over a year so there is really a lot of work to do in preparing for the season. It seems so unfair to me that the players can't get with their coaches earlier, especially young QBs. It seems like there should be a rule that the young players can meet with their coaches to watch film. I understand what the NFL is trying to do, but I think it can hinder the game.
How high would you rank Andrew Luck among NFL quarterbacks in terms of pure skill?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
He probably has the skill set as good or better as any guy coming into the league. Now, if he's physically gifted, but his mental aptitude, preparation and maturity put him on the fast track. I just don't see how he won't lead to success. Even though Indy does not have great offensive weapons to surround him with right now, keep in mind that Peyton made everyone around him better, he didn't always have a great cast. The hope is the same for Luck.
Tom (Cleveland, Ohio)
Wouldnltthe bronws be ebst served by using their first three picks in the draft for RB, WR and OT to elevate this roster to decent talent quality, than wasting a pick early on for QB and giving up on McCoy after just oneyear with no supporting cast?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
I think you're probably on the right track, because all three positions are certainly big needs. Colt McCoy may be able to run this new west coast offense all right. They must get offensive playmakers. Right now, they don't scare anybody. A QB is a luxury pick. And if they draft a guy, he might not play for a year any way.
The franchise tag is something that seems to stir up controversy and cause problems every off season. Do you envision a time in the future where the Owners and Player's Union will agree to get rid of it?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
In some cases, the franchis tag is very lucrative for players. I understand the frustration when you hit free agency that you can't test the market. I think the teams for the most part use i well. Usually the franchise tag is basicall a stop gap while they try to get a long term contract done.
Am I wrong to think that the 2nd and 3rd rounds of this year's draft seem to be deep. There's a lot of talent available in those rounds.
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
Yeah, I think there are a couple of positions that seem to be really weak, safety and TE, but for the most part, I have the feeling that this is a deep draft. You can find good players in those rounds. That's why we might see a lot of teams try to trade down after we get past the first 6-7 picks that are so valuable. The problem is afte those elite guys are gone, why would a team try to move up and give up picks when they can get almost the same guy in a later round. The phones will be ringing once we get to the middle of the first round.
Will the panthers trade Jonathan Stewart before or during the draft?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think there is some sentiment that could be the case. They talk about using a lot of two-back sets. They've said publically that all three of their backs have varied skill sets, which makes them valuable. That's something to keep in mind as we get closer to draft day that having three of those guys may be a luxury.
Is trent richardson the next adrian peterson?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I think there is a lot of comparisons. But people say his skill set may be actually better than AP, becaus he has really good receiving skills, which means he can stay on the field for all three downs. We know he's an excellent runner to all three sides. He is really good at pass protection and blitz pickup, which is really unusual for a young guy coming out of college. He looks like a complete back with no real flaws. Not a lot of those guys around.
what film has been watched in the Cave today?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
We're doing team needs in the AFC North today. So I watched those teams a little bit, to see if those needs have changed. One thing that stood out to me in re-evaluating film is Baltimore and Pittsburgh, who are still really good teams, have more holes in them than we have seen in the past. Age, retirement and injuries are starting to take their toll. You just don't have the depth and margin for error we've seen in the past. These teams have needs they must fill in the draft. They don't have the luxury to pick guys for depth.
is it fair to call the Tebow experiment a failed one in Denver? In other words, was it a reach pick (i.e. a first round pick for a developmental project who is years away from being a starter)?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
Well, I don't know you can say that, because we didn't have enough time to play that out. What would he have done with a full offseason of coaching, some mentoring from John Elway and a whole offseason with a coaching staff to create a gameplan to fit his skills? That would have been a big risk, but I don't know that we can say that the experiment was a failure, because until Manning came into the picture, they appeared to be very willing to commit to Tebow for another year.
Do you see Weeden being a bargain in the 2nd round?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
Oh, I think that's where people are absolutely looking at him, late first round, early second round. Obviously some teams will be concerned about the age factor, but maturity comes with that. He'll be ready to step in quicker. He needs to be in a spot, though, where he doesn't sit for 2-3 years. After those first 2-3 QBs that go, this is a very close group of QBs that all have interesting skill sets. I think the last pick of the first and first of the second might be interesting. There might be more QBs available than teams with QB needs. Might some of these guys slip more than we think?
Is this the year the Stafford takes that "next step" into elite territory? And can the Lions continue to build on their success last year?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I think that's certainly a possibility, but in my mind, they have to find their running game again. I know they had key injuries a year ago, but Stafford, if I'm not mistaken, threw more passes than any other in the NFL and that makes him a sitting duck for other teams to tee off on him. If they can find balance, I think he can find a huge year.
Will Kelland (New York City)
As constructed now, how do you think the giants defense will be next year?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
They're always very quiet in the offseason, but then they put a goo product on the field. I think they're trying to fix their LB position and they have some work to do in the secondary. But if their pass rush is good with their front four, it hides a lot of deficience on the back end. I wouldn't worry about them, they're going to be a good team.
Who should the Cowboys target in the first to have the greatest impact year one?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
They've tried in this offseason to re-tool their offensive line and they've done a nice job. They have enough offensive weapons. I think their key concerns are on the back end of their secondary and at LB. They need more explosive playmakers and that's where they'll focus on the draft.
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
It's hard to believe that we're only 10 days out of the draft. For me, as an ex-scout, this is the fascinating time of the year, because now is when you put the draft boards together. You put together a gameplan and you try to lay out the draft. On the non-NFL side, this is a time to anticipate what other teams are doing. It's a huge guessing game that's huge fun if you're a football fan.