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)
Isn't it ironic that the last couple of weeks, we talked in our chat about this is always a time for concern for NFL coaches because players have a month away from the facility. It's the last free time they'll have before a long season. It's a time when guys can get into trouble if they don't have great self-discipline. Certainly we've seen that in the last week. I'm sure most coaches would agree.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi Gary - injuries aside are there any other potential hiccups to either SF or SEA not being among the top teams this year?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I think both teams have strength at every position. I see very few weaknesses with either. Although, I do think there is probably a little bit of concern in San Francisco with their receiving group. Without Crabtree and Walker, that's a lot of production they don't have. Though I do think that Boldin will be terrific in that offense. I think both teams have done a great job in the offseason of strengthening any potential weaknesses. The 49ers beefed up their defensive line to offset potential injuries. The Seahawks added Percy Harvin to give their passing game potential explosiveness. I think these are two of the best teams in the league today.
Hi Gary, how do you think Mike Wallace will do in Miami this year?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
He gives them that deep threat that they did not have. I think it really comes down to Ryan Tannehill. Probably the happiest guy on the team is Brian Hartline, who will not be getting all of the attention. I'm a little concerned about their ability to throw deep on play action, without Reggie Bush and a run game that we haven't seen yet. Wallace has a chance for a big year.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What will be the First NFL Team to Be in Training Camp this Summer?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
They all start reporting near the end of July. Basically, they're just fine tuning things. The playbooks are in. The players know how to run the offense and defense. The first few days of camp, there's an emphasis on individual coaching and fundamentals. As we get closer to games, they're doing more team oriented stuff. There is a lot of teaching that will go on in the first couple of weeks. What you don't see is an overemphasis on conditioning in the first few weeks of training camp like there used to be. These players are in the facilities working out so much in the offseason, that they should be reasonably in shape and that saves coaches a lot of practice time.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, what are your thoughts on Vikings rookie WR Cordarelle Patterson? Do you think he will be able to help the team significantly in his rookie year?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I think there is certainly hope that he can develop quickly. Without Percy Harvin, they need him badly as a rookie. We like AD and Kyle Rudolph and obviously, Greg Jennings. But Patterson needs to become their big play guy and give them that vertical game. I think Jennings will be a real postiive influence. I believe there is some concern on how quickly he'll develop.
Greg (North Carolina)
Am I nuts to think the NFC South will shake out as follows: Falcons, Panthers, Saints then Bucs, with the top two making the playoffs?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
For the most part, I probably agree with you in Atlanta finishing first. I really do agree that Carolina will have a bounce back year. But it's hard for me to leave NO out of the playoffs. I think you're right about Tampa being fourth, but they're improved. This division will be very tested. I could see Carolina, Atlanta and New Orleans all fighting for a playoff spot. If they do that, we oculd see only one team making the playoffs, as everyone could finish 10-6 or 9-7. I think the NFC South may replace the NFC East as the most competitive division in the league.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Gary, With the recent developements of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski recovery from back surgery, will Bill Belichick & Josh McDaniel use recently acquired Tim Tebow in that spot, is there someone else waiting in the wings to fill in @ TE or do you think there'll be a slight change in the offensive game plan in 2013?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I don't think there's any chance that the problems will have an effect on Tebow playing TE. He'll fight to be the No. 3 QB, if they decide to keep a TE. I really like Jake Ballard, who they got off the New York Giants roster. But the problem is that he's like Gronk, a big guy, an inline TE. They don't have a guy like Hernandez, someone they can move around. It woulnd't be shocking to trade for a guy, because I'm sure the last thing they want to do is change their schemes. I know they have six TEs on the roster, but I don't know if they have the athleticism that they need to get it done.
Craig G. (Fairfield, CA)
Hey Gary, how productive do you think Percy Harvin will be in Seattle this season?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I think he will be absolutely terrific. This is a very creative offense. I think what will really help him is that he has a QB that is a threat to run outside. He has a smash mouth running game. To me, he's the missing link who will help this offense go from good to great.
Hello Gary, Do you think that the signing of Ahmad Bradshaw means that Vic Ballard has no future in Indy? He looked pretty good down the stretch last year.
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I think the coaches like Ballard. I just think they want a better opportunity for a power run game. This offense was too dependent on Andrew Luck's passing a year ago. I know one of their goals is better offensive balance and the ability to pound the ball between the tackles, which hasn't happened in Indy in a while. It also gives them the ability to close out the game without having to throw every down. Luck can't sit back in the pocket and throw as much as he does and gets hit as much as he does.
Aaron, H (Hickory, NC)
Could you see Denver signing Bart Scott as an insurance LB, similar to what they did with Keith Brooking last year
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I think they're concerned about who is going to be their MLB. Everything else on that defense looks really good to me. They need solid production in the middle. They need a guy who can call defenses and get everyone lined up. Scott can do that. I thought they got good play out of Brooking last year. He did a good job of running that defense.
Greg (North Carolina)
Would be interesting to compare arrest rates of NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, PGA, NASCAR, etc during their offseasons. Do you think the NFL would be the highest? I know they'd have the most arrests, but they also have the most players, so their rate may not be the highest...
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
I think there is a huge concern among the league and everybody. It certainly paints a negative picture. I think there is increasing concern about players and guns. It's obviously an alarming trend. What's so disappointing is the players are warned about it throughout the year. They have rookie symposiums. Coaches remind the players. And yet it still happens. I think we may see in the next few years are organizations that start to look closely in who a player hangs out with, who are his friends. It may not seem any of their business, but every team has its own security personnel and guys to deal with the players. I just think they'll take a closer look. When I look at Aaron Hernandez, it certainly looks lik there were warning signs there. What did he do away from the building. I think coaches now will say they need to be much more proactive.
Leo (Flint, Mi)
I'm a huge fantasy player and with both Gronk and Hernandez out, who can I look at to fill that huge TE gap?
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
Well, I think you probably have to look at Jimmy Graham of the Saints as the best in the league. He's in this new wave of versatile TEs. I would say we're in a great era of receiving TEs and I think there is a young crop coming along that will keep this position stocked very well for the next few years. When I watch film, one of the most fascinating trends in the league is how the TE has evolved and how the offenses are taking advantage of these guys coming into the league.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
We're probably 3-4 weeks out from training camp right now. I know we're all getting excited about getting back and getting the season started. But it's also a great time for coaches to get refreshed and spend time with their families. In today's NFL, this is a year round job. Not a lot of down time.