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 (4:02 PM)
It seems like in recent years the anticipation for free agency was more exciting than the actual movement, as teams are doing a much better job of keeping their own players and not overpaying for guys on the open market. However, this year was different. I thought there was a lot of excitement over the first couple of days of free agency with some big contracts and big names moving. Now, we've seen things slow down as teams look for better bargains as the market softens.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, now that the Vikings signed Greg Jennings, do you think they need a slot receiver or outside receiver (or both) to resolve their remaining WR needs?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
I think you are exactly right. Even if they had kept Harvin, they needed a No. 2 that they could really count on. I know they can use Kyle Rudolph in a lot of different formations, but I still think they really need another quality guy.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Gary, So far which teams have made the most improvements and which teams where hit the hardest in the free agent market?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I'm actually looking into a study right now on teams that were hit the hardest. It starts with Baltimore who have lost a lot of their productive veterans. That will hurt them on the field and in the lockerroom. I also think the Jets have taken a huge hit. Even though the players they are losing are not necessarily difference makers, they are solid contributors and I don't see guys that can replace them. Because of salary cap problems, they can't really get involved in free agency. I look at this Jets roster right now and it's devastated. The Steelers took a big hit because they couldn't keep their guys or go out on the market. To a certain extent, the Houston Texans didn't necessarily fair well. They cut Kevin Walter. They lost Connor Barwin, Quinn and underrated James Casey. These are all good players. If there is a positive for the Texans, they have a really good roster and they seem to have the ability to replace those guys better than most teams. Whether it be guys on their own team or going the free agent route, such as going after Ed Reed.
Dylan Mckay (Beverly Hills, CA)
Is it easy to scout a player's athletic ability ie speed agility via film or is that something you need to scout in person?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I think you can do a lot on film. It always helps to see a guy live, but the great thing about him is you can keep running it back and forth and you don't miss anything. When you see a player live, it's easy to miss things. There is nothing like being able to run a play back and forth several times.
Scooter, minny [via mobile]
Do u think the vikings made the right move in signing greg jennings isnt he injury prone?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I think it's a move they had to make. Harvin was no longer a fit for a lot of reasons. With him gone, they had virtually no weapon at WR. It was a move they had to make. I'm sure they're hopeful he will stay healthy. If he plays well, it weakens a bitter division rival. That is a positive.
If both Dumervil and the Broncos wanted that contract to be valid and its clearly a mistake by the agent, why won't the NFL allow it to stand after the appeal?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I don't think the NFL will change their stance, but obviously the Broncos and Dumervil could come back to the table and they could re-sign him if that's what both sides want. I think they would probably handle it like he's another free agent out there. It's a little bit of a bizarre situation that I've never seen before.
Can the Browns make some noise in the AFC North following the losses by Pittsburgh and Baltimore?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I think the AFC North will be closer. I agree with you that Pittsburgh and Baltimore are headed for disappointing years. I don't believe in the Browns yet. Their defense is close to being pretty good. But I don't see enough playmakers in the passing game and I don't trust the QB. I think they are headed in the right direction. When's the last time we go into the season and thinking the clear front runner is the Bengals? Let's keep in mind, as many hits as Baltimore and Pittsburgh have taken, they still have elite QBs that can take over a game.
The rams just got Jake long and Jared Cook. What other moves do you see the rams doing via free agency or draft.
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
Oh, I think they are excellent moves. Now, they have a good pair of bookend tackles that can protect Sam Bradford. I think Jared Cook is a real underrated pass catching TE. He will be a great weapon in that passing game. Let's remember that they lost Steven Jackson and Danny Amendola. Those are guys that are true differencemakers. It looks like they have a plan in place.
Namdi-Saints done deal?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
If he's the player he used to be, it would be a nice fit. You know that Rob Ryan wants to run an aggressive 3-4 scheme with a lot of blitzes. That means the CBs need to play tight, press, man to man coverages. That's where he had all of his production. In Philly he played some zone and man off schemes and he just didn't make any plays at all. I think the scheme will fit him if those skills return to what they were.
Gary, what do you think of the additions KC has made this off season? Do they put the Chiefs in a position to make the playoffs?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
I think they're a lot better. I don't think their roster is as close to being as bad as a year ago. I believe that they will be more competitive, but I don't think they are a playoff team yet, unless Alex Smith plays really well. I like some of their pieces on defense and their potential to run the ball. I believe they'll fix their issues quicker than a lot of people anticipate. But this division will be dominated by the Broncos and the other three teams will fight it out to be .500.
Do you think with the addition of Bennet the Bears will target another OL or potentially a LB in the 1st round?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I think they'll still look for a TE in the draft. An athletic guy to give them more flexibility, but I would not think they make that their first priority. Their OL right now is awful. They really need to stock it. They also have a lot of age issues on defense, so they have a lot of directions that they could go. I do think Bennett is a good signing for Marc Trestman's offense. They will be very creative with him. It's a good acquisition for Jay Cutler.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Gary, With Ryan Tannehill have targets in Dustin Keller and Brandon Gibson, what else does Miami need to do to compete against the Patriots, Steelers and Broncos in the AFC?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
First of all, we need to acknowledge that they have a home run hitter in Mike Wallace! That will really give this offense more big plays. Keller can still be an elite pass catching TE, though I think they really wanted Jared Cook. I am curious if they will miss Reggie Bush more than they think. I also think they need a little more help at the CB position.
How do you rate the moves Seattle has made so far?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
They obviously identified a No. 1 WR who can stretch the field and make big plays and they have that in Harvin. I like that they signed some veteran DEs to give them insurance in case Clemons is not healthy. It looks like so far that they are filling specific needs. The way they go about their business is very smart and savvy.
How much better will the Lions be with Bush?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
It has a chance to be much improved. Last year, they relied on a short passing game to the TE almost as an extension of the run game. Without a healthy Jahvid Best, they just had no explosion in the run game. When you watch Bush on film from last year, he's more than just a third down back. He can run between the tackles. They will use some heavy formations with unbalanced looks to give him more inside blocking. In the passing game, he will release to the same side as Calvin Johnson and that really gives a defense nightmare matchup problems. Bush is so good in the underneath passing game that his ability to hold a LB or safety will give Megatron some more one on one looks. That's not a good thing for the defense. I think it is a terrific fit.
Should the Cowboys target OG or Safety with their first pick? In other words would the addition of an elite OG improve the offense more or the addition of an elite Safety the defense?
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
Both areas are very critical. But scheme wise, they may be able to get by in the secondary because they will now play a lot of Cover 2 schemes, which means a lot of zones, seven defenders in coverage. They're not bad at CB, although in my mind, they have man to man corners that will now have to play zone schemes. But the safety position must be addressed. I thought their OL problems were going to be a lot better this year, because I thought they made some moves last offseason. But injuries devastated that group. Right now, they may only have one guy, Tyron Smith that they have great confidence in.
Gary Horton (4:33 PM)
One thing that has really been interesting to me in this first week of free agency, was the fact that how many teams could not be players because they were fighting salary cap limitations. When you don't manage that cap well, it can come back to bite you. It must be really frustrating for a team to look at guys available that would really fill needs and yet you don't have the ability to make any of those moves.
Gary Horton (4:33 PM)
From a players' standpoint, I think there are a lot of guys that anticipated a pretty solid market that are now going to have to accept bargain basement deals. But that's the NFL world we live in.
Buzzmaster (4:34 PM)