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 (4:03 PM)
Well, it's finally draft day and it's never more interesting than these last four days. While it's fun to speculate, these are the four days as a team that you have to be careful and be weary of everything that your hear.
antonio phila pa [via mobile]
What the patriots need to do to improve their defense.
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
They need to find an edge pass rusher, which it seems like they haven't done in a long time. That will take some pressure off the back end of that defense where they give up so many big pass plays. They also need help in the secondary, both inside and outside. It looks like to me like a defensive draft.
Andrew Luck or RG3: Who has the better career?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I think they'll both be very successful, because the skill levels are there. But I think what will lead to them being great players is the mental approach to the game. Both are great guys with great work ethics. It may be that RGIII becomes the guy that makes more explosive plays, because of this speed and athletic ability, but I think both will put up great numbers and will turn each team into a winner.
what do you make of these new Saints allegations? Can a team really gain a competitive advantage due to the GM hearing plays being called?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
Well, obviously, we don't know enough yet, if it's true or not. But my initial reaction is it's hard to imagine being able to, if it did happen, understand what the plays were due to a team's terminology and then being able to transfer that knowledge quickly enough to your own coaches. I just can't imagine something like this could be done and kept covered up, because other people would be involved and it just doesn't make sense. I would think most coaches wouldn't want any part of it. For me, it doesn't connect properly. I certainly hope it's not true.
With the news that Nick Collins won't know if he'll be able to return after the draft, do you see the Packers in a tough situation? I don't see that many top prospects in the safety position and I feel that Ted Thompson would simply be reaching if he tried to take another in the first 3 rounds with better talent from the spot he is currently drafting from. What is your view on this situation?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I think that they have been very aware that Collins might not return. They also realize that the secondary continues to be a big needs, both inside and outside. It would certainly help if their pass rush were better. But one possibility could be to move Charles Woodson inside to safety, where he played some a year ago and maybe draft a CB. I agree with you that this is a year where you'd love to draft a safety high, but there's just not enough guys out there. I think they are aware that if they draft a pass rusher to help Clay Matthews to help out that back end of the defense.
Bran (Fishers, IN)
Is Fleener going to be available for the Colts, and if so, do they grab him? Seems like a reliable TE would be a good match for a rookie QB like Luck.
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I think you're right on track. In today's NFL, athletic pass-catching TEs are really popular. Fleener has a lot of admirers. How nice would it be for Luck to start off his NFL career with a guy that he's very familiar with? You could really upgrade an offense that all of a sudden has very few offensive playmakers right now.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
If things break right for the Broncos they will end up with _____ in the first round.
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I think the hole that they really want to fill are on defense right now. They have a lot of age in their secondary. They want to get more physical. I think they are probably looking for a workhorse back that can take some carries away from McGahee. They need to keep developing depth on the OL. This is not a team that's without good personnel, but they're not very deep.
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
But Peyton Manning will make every position look immediately better, because he covers up a lot of those deficiencies.
Frank (Minneapolis) [via mobile]
If you're Christian Ponder and the Vikings pass on Matt Kalil how do you take that? The only way he can develop is if he has time in the pocket.
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
If you draft Justin Blackmon instead of Kalil, for example, then Ponder can think that you're trying to send a message that you want to give him more tools. I don't think it sends a message at all. Ponder, like all of us, knows you need a difference maker. You need a guy who can change the game. Kalil is good, but he doesn't change the game like a WR or CB or RB. If the Vikings can address teh OT later. If they're comfortable with Kalil then he can be a solid pick. My strong feeling is they are really trying to trade out of that No. 3 spot because they like Kalil, but they don't get enough bang for their buck with a LT at No. 3.
Do you think that Hightower or Poe will be available at 24 for Pittsburgh?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I think their biggest need is an interior DL. Casey Hampton is back but he took a paycut and age is a factor. His backup a year ago retired. We know the NT has been a huge part of this defense over the last several years. I know there are some people that are starting to second guess Poe the closer we get to the draft because the guy you watch on film and the guy who worked out so well at the combine aren't in sync. You make a good statement that even though we love their 3-4 edge rushers Woodley and Harrison, they are not getting any younger and addressing that rush would certainly make sense.
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
And don't forget the OL in the first round as a spot that at leasts merits a look.
i'm tired of this country always trying to find something that the SAINTS supposidly did wrong. they never give the SAINTS credit for anything. DREW BREES breaks a 27 yr old record, no MVP. WIN A SUPER BOWL NO CREDIT. now bouty gate. if you dont want to get hit dont play. now this with our G.M.
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
If these things have happened, you can't just leave them alone. I agree that this hasn't been a great offseason for the organization. I love this organization and what they mean to the city. I hope this Mickey Loomis stuff isn't true. We're in an era now where long term health for the players is on everyone's mind. If you're encouraging hits that crossed the line, then that's something the league has to address and deal with very seriously. Bountygate was bad enough on its own, but why it became such a big deal is they were told to stop and they ignored it. One thing about this commissioner is he does not like to be lied to and he will react in a harsher fashion if you do.
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
And, I thought when the Saints won the Super Bowl that they were embraced by just about everybody. The city rallied around them and vice versa. My biggest disappointment now is that these controversies have taken some of the joy out of that relationship. But I think they will be back stronger than ever.
Mike (San Diego)
Gary, with the announcement of Brian Dawkins retiring, do you think he is an HOFer? I'm an Eagles fan, so I'm thinking he's in...what do you think though?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I think the safety position is hard to judge for something like the Hall of Fame. The numbers don't always reflect your production. Dawkins has been a great range safety. He's upgraded every defense he's played on. I used to love his instincts and ability to break on the ball. You would certainly think that he would get some hall of fame discussions going. That's an interesting question. I'm going to go back and look to see how many safeties are in the hall of fame.
How much of an advantage would it have been if Loomis was eavesdropping on opposing coordinators? Could he really make sense of it and get it to his coaches in time to be of any value?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
As it's been explained to me, having an electronic listening device makes it a more serious situation than just overhearing a conversation. I don't know how it would help on gameday, but if you listen over time and you could look at trends maybe it could help. I just don't know enough yet to make an education opinion. I really hope that this is not a true story. Any kind of speculation is probably way too early.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
For all of us, this may be the best weekend of the year. I love the way we've broken the draft into three phases. I think it's going to be a great first round on Thursday. We may see more possible trades than we've seen in a long time as teams maneuver to get the guys that we want. We'll have a lot to talk about next Monday.