Chat with Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN's NFL "Caveman" -- and Insider -- 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, breaking 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!
Paul (San Tan Valley, AZ)
Who do you see the Lions taking at #10? Where do you see Taylor Lewan landing?
Gary Horton (4:03 PM)
I think OL is certainly an area they'll look at. But I think they need secondary help the most. I think they're really vulnerable at CB and safety. They could always use another WR to complement Megatron. And as good as this DL has been for a lot of years, I don't think they have the depth they used to. This is a team with more needs than you might think.
Ed (Queens Village)
If there was redo of 2011 draft Mo Wilkerson top 5 pick, top 10 pick, outside top 10 pick?
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
He has lived up to the expectations they had for him. He's headed for a long career. They might have the most underrated DL in the league right now. They look really smart in the way they drafted those guys high. Ironically, Rex Ryan is known as a great pass defense coach, but the weakness is in the secondary and the guys up front are the strength of this defense.
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
Everybody knows Cleveland will draft a QB or two next month, but nobody knows when. Can you see them passing in favor of a higher rated prospect at #4?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I think the philosophy of drafting a QB this year has changed in the last few weeks. I think we all assumed that QBs would go high in the first round. But that was before some of these second tier guys really emerged as players. McCarron, Savage Garoppolo, etc. Teams are changing their philosophy and thinking they can get a really good QB in the second round and not be forced to take a guy high, especially with so many elite players at the top of this draft. That's a major change. In my opinion, the first hour of this draft could be fascinating. We could see these QBs at the top really drop as teams go for the best athlete available, rather than a need.
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
Or, will it push the second round QBs into the bottom of the first round? A lot of intersting scenarios. With the success of Kaepernick and Wilson, guys not drafted in the first round, teams are more confident that they can take a guy later and still play.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
If you were the 49ers, do you cut Aldon Smith? Pick up his option? Wait and see?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
Well, I would let it play out and see what legally happens and what the commissioner does. The thing that's tough on this one is -- obviously he's a productive player -- everyone around him says he's a good person that just makes bad decisions. The thing at the airport just smacks me of not having any common sense. Having said that, how many times do you continue to excuse a guy when he keeps making these mistakes? The coaches have to get a great feel for their locker room and see how it effects them. On the one hand, guys just want to win, but on the other hand, at what point are the inmates running the prison?
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
The talk here is as ota's open is Andy Dalton and his expiring rookie contract. Speculation is mounting he could command as much as 15M a year on the open market. What do you think Mr. Brown and his brain trust should do?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
Everybody talks a good game about Dalton, but I'm not sure they really believe that he's the guy that can carry this franchise for a long time. I think he's a good QB, but I think he's also inconsistent and I might try to get through a good part of next season to see how he's performing before I give him a new contract. I wouldn't do it now, because I don't think he's done enough. What really alarmed me last season was the fact that they surrounded me with excellent weapons. At times he looked good, but at other times he just couldn't win when he had to. It's a tough decision, because they don't want to start over, but I also don't think they want to commit yet.
Freddy (Florida) [via mobile]
What contender from last year can you see taking a Falcons/Texans like drop off this year?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
I could see Kansas City taking a step back. Are they the team that we liked at the beginning of last season or are they the team that failed so miserably late in the season? I am sure there are others that will surprise. Maybe you could put San Diego in that class, but as long as a team has a good vetern QB, they are usually not going to slip as far as they fell last year.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
If you're the Rams at #2, do you take the game-changing WR Watkins or the builiding block OT Robinson?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I would probably take an OL there. It's a position of need that matches probably the best athlete available philosophy. There are enough WRs that you can get one later in the draft. What would be interesting is if Clowney doesn't go No. 1. Even though St. Louis has a good OL with some depth, would they draft another pass rusher? It would be an interesting discussion.
Chances New England picks Logan Thomas and converts him to a TE?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I haven't heard anything like that, but I know they are very creative in the draft. The more things a player can do, the more Belichick likes him. Their game plan changes from week to week. A player with a varied skill set fits in very nicely with the Patriots.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, do you think Blake Bortles may be a good fit at QB for the Vikings (if they can draft him in the first round)?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
Again, depending on what's on the board, will they wait until the second round? I think OC Norv Turner has a lot to do with who they pick at QB. If he's sold on one of these guys high, they could certainly go after them. Also, keep in mind that if I'm right about the top guys dropping, because of the second tier group, then Minnesota may have more than one guy fall into their lap. Wouldn't it be interesting if they had a choice? Having said all that, they have a head coach that's all about defense. Their track record of acquiring QBs has not been very good.
Gary, If Clinton Dix,Pryor,or CJ Mosley is available for the packers do you see them drafting one of them?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I think they will look for game-breaker on the back end of their defense. It could be CB, safety, LB. It might even be a DL. But that's where they need the help. Also, would they look at TE higher than you would think, because of Finley's situation? But my guess is this would be a defensive draft early.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Is Miami totally invested in Tannehill or could you see them drafting a QB in the middle rounds to push him?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
No, I think they're totally invested in Tannehill. I think they see improvement. They just need to surround him with better talent. They don't have the great weapons in the passing game yet. They don't have the running game established yet. And last year, they had the worst OL in the NFL. Until they can figure out how to protect him, they will have problems. He is the least of their problems.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Saw a rumor that a friend of Rick Smith's said that the Texans like Mack over Clowney...how much belief do you put into something like that, this time of year?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
You're right in the fact that we are now in the last two weeks before the draft, teams are trying to put out smoke screens and misleading information. So, you have to take what you hear with a grain of salt. However, I certainly think that it wouldn't be shocking if they took Mack over Clowney. He's probably the most complete and cleanest player at the top of this draft. But, you also have to wonder if they really like Mack, could they trade down a spot or two to still get him? You just don't know what they are trying to do.
I'm hoping the Lions move UP to grab SAMMY. No way he gets past Oakland at #5 or Tampa at #7. Thoughts???
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
Absolutely. Even Cleveland at No. 4 could go WR. You are right. The top two guys could be off the board before they picked. I just don't know if they would give up the picks they would have to with so many needs on defense to go up and get another WR.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Gary - do you see the Giants signing of Josh Freeman as a sign that they feel Ryan Nassib still needs a lot of work?
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I saw the signing of Freeman as something to get them through OTAs and the offseason. I would not be surprised to see them cut him in training camp. I just thought they saw they didn't have enough to get them through mini camp with Eli's injury. I might be wrong, but I don't think this signing was one they thought of as a long-term fix.
What are your thoughts on the Bears offseason and what do you see them doing in the first 3 rounds of the draft?
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
Their concentration in the draft has to be on defense. I love their offense right now -- their skill players and QB. They're playing for an offensive minded coach. Their OL played much better than we thought. But their defense needs to get much better. I would load up on that side of the ball. Age and inconsistent play have to be a huge concern right now.
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
It seems so strange to be in late April and the draft is still almost three weeks away. I'm sure the teams like having the extra time and maybe it's good for the fans, because it gives us more time to talk about it all. But I always wonder, with all of this extra time, is there a tendency to overanalyze these guys? We will see soon! Have a good week!