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 (4:07 PM)
It's really good to see how the rookie signings are coming along. It's always great to look forward to a season where we won't be having any holdouts. As we talked about before, everyone thinks it's a slow time of the year, but we've got a lot of activity.
Suburban Rhythm (Pittsburgh)
How much impact would moving the trade deadline back to week 8 or 12 truly have? I imagine that while there might be a larger volume of trades, it would still be a backup OL for a 5th rounder 2 seasons from now type deal.
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I think it would have a considerate influence. Teams would be closer to knowing if they're a playoff contender. If they're not, that can factor into a decision. The longer you can go, not only can you assess where your team is, you also have a better chance to look at the players you want to trade away or the players you want to trade for. I would like that.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, what are your thoughts on the issue with the NFL referees? Do you feel that the regular referees will not be on the field for Week 1 of the regular season, and (if this is the case) will the quality of NFL refereeing be severely compromised in 2012?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
To be honest, I haven't thought a lot about it. But I will say this: I think there would be a considerable drop off in terms of how the game is officiated. But I'm not enough of an authority to know how serious the officials are about getting a new deal. I know coaches and players in all liklihood are hoping to get a deal done. It's a tough game to officiate. When I hear rumors that the NFL may some day go to full time officials and don't have other full time jobs and careers, it shows to me how important the officials part of it is.
How well do you think the Broncos' O-line will perform this season? Will they be one of the better lines in the league, above average, mediocre, or worse?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I think they did a better job than most people realize. I think they like their guys up front. They get better every year. What I think will happen is Peyton and his ability to get the ball out quickly will really help them in pass blocking. He's not going to sit back there and take some hits. The biggest job for Peyton will be his ability to change plays at the line and be on the same page. His OL at the Colts were always at the top of the league in least sacks allowed and that was tied into Peyton's ability to get rid of the ball.
Turner (Boise, ID)
From what I have read over the last few weeks is that the 'Hawks D is looking even better than last year. With their additions, where could this defense stack up in the league?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
Well, it's ironic that you ask that question, because I watched them on film last week. I was really impressed. I think they are close to being an elite defense. They have a tremendous pass rush. When they use their Leo package, which basically has an extra LB rushing from the edge, with their first pick Bruce Irvin, they could be devastating. They have a good mixture of guys on their defensive front that can rush. I also love their secondary. They have big, tall corners, who nobody knew about this last season. They have consistent safeties. I think watching the Seahawks and 49ers defenses this fall will absolutely be a treat.
tdiddy (winnipeg) [via mobile]
What is the "out-clause" for the Bills if Fitzpatrick does'nt pan out this year? Or ae they stuck wirh his giant contract? If they do get rid of him in the offseason are their any quality QB free-agents coming out next year? Thanks for the chats, Gary, you re the wind beneath my wings.
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
I think right now they're committed to him as their long term QB. I don't think they have any thoughts of him not playing well. As I look at them on film, they are really surrounding him with a good offense. The line is going to be much improved in 2012. He's going to have two exciting backs that are healthy. The only thing I see missing is a quality No. 2 WR. They have a good guy out of the slot. I think he's headed for a very solid year and will be very well coached.
mjd is a free agent this year. What do u think the chances r of him signing with a team other than the jaguars
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think they'll do everything to try and keep him. I haven't heard of him looking for another destination, but that's always a possibility. I think they'll be an improved team in 2012 and that might encourage him to stay.
Serenity Lost (IA)
I am a big time Packer fan and I was wondering how you feel the addition of Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy will impact the Packers pass rush this season? Also do you feel that Charles Woodson will make the transition from CB to Safety and if he does will this help to improve the secondary? ty
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I love what the Packers did with the draft, using the first 6 picks on defense. I think the whole key is Perry. They have lacked a bookend to their dresser in Clay Matthews for the last few years. That has really hurt their defense. If he plays well, everything else will fall into place. I think their defense will be much improved. Afterall, they couldn't get much worse. I do think the retirement of Nick Collins was a negative. But for me, it's all about pass rush and pressure. If that improves, everything else will fall into place.
Kris Park Hills,MO [via mobile]
Who are your top 5 RBs you ever graded coming out of college? Where does Trent Richardson rank all-time with you?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
I think he can be outstanding in this league. He's a powerful runner. He has a lot of explosive plays. What I like most of all is he's a three back guy, which means he can stay on the field on third down and be used as an outlet receiver. He can be good out on the open field. Everybody thinks he could be a better prospect than Mark Ingram in New Orleans and that's high praise. I think he's about as can't miss as you can get at RB.
Luke (st paul )
next big offseason issue you think we'll hear about?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
Obviously, right now, everyone is talking about the officials going on strike. That's probably the biggest obstacle. I'm also concerned about the relationship between the commissioner's office and the players. All of the good feeling we had when the lockout ended seems to be fading away. There seems to be a lot of back fighting and back and forth going on. I know the commissioner will probably never be in a place where the players love him.
Tom (New York)
I'm having trouble understanding why so many people think Robert Griffin will have a better rookie season than Andrew Luck. Luck has a higher football intelligence that will help his transition, and better receivers. The 'Skins only don't have a legit #1 receiver, while Luck go to Wayne like Newton went to Smith. Am I a crazy outlier, or do I have some points?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I think you're underestimating RGIII a little bit. They did a nice job in free agency, adding Josh Morgan and Pierre Garcon. They have two good pass catching TEs in Fred Davis and Chris Cooley. And Mike Shanahan's offense is really tailored to RGIII's skills - a lot of bootleg rollouts and half field reads. That gives him a chance at early success. Having said that, I think Luck will be equally productive. Not only is Reggie Wayne around, but he also has his college TE, Colby Fleener who was very productive at Stanford. Both of these guys will put up numbers, but both will have struggles. Neither is playing on an elite team. A little bit like Cam Newton, RGIII as a rookie will be able to scramble his way out of trouble when the play is not there. As a young player, that's a really nice attribute to have.
How impactful will the moves the Bears made be on offense?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I think the additions on offense of WR Brandon Marshall and RB Michael Bush very much upgrade this offense. Bush gives them a quality 1-2 punch with Matt Forte. It doesn't force Forte to handle the ball too much. With Marshall, they now have a No. 1 guy at that position, that Jay Cutler knows and likes. It really solidifies this offense and gives it depth that we haven't seen in a long time.
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I think the next two weeks are very important in the teaching process for these young players, before everybody takes a well earned vacation, later in June. When everyone returns in mid-July, we'll be ready to roll on what I think will be a great season.