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!
Buzzmaster (4:00 PM)
We've got Gary!
did the cowboys do enough in the draft in your opinion?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I liked the players that they got, but there are so many needs that they have, that I don't think it can all be filled in one draft. I was surprised that they took a OL in the first round, though it was a need. But how could they avoid going defense hard in the first couple of days? But when you look at the board, Martin at OL was probably the best athlete on the board. When you look at the board, it tells you if you're taking a lesser player based on need. So I think they took a value pick. I think they're taking someone who can help Romo. And you have to give them credit for avoiding taking Manziel.
Hi Gary, do you think the Dolphins did enough to rebuild their offensive line?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
They did address the OL with 2 of their first 3 picks. By the time they picked in the first round, a lot of the elite OL were gone. They may have reached a little bit for their guys, but they didn't have a choice. For all we talk about the best player available philosophy, they had to go OL. Even with those two selections, they're not even close to putting a good unit on the field, but it looks like a step in the right direction.
did the patriots reach on picking garroppolo in the 2nd round?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
Yes and no. When they did it, my first reaction was that they must have had a deal for Ryan Mallet, and that could still happen, but I'm surprised that we didn't see it happen during the draft. This organization is really good at grooming QBs that they can use as trade bait in coming years. Keep in mind that Mallet is in the last year of his deal. And while Brady may play 3-4 more years, it doesn't hurt getting him ready now. You might argue about them picking one that high, but they might see it as being able to trade one of the backups and getting back a nice pick.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi Gary - do you think moving the draft into may and extending it over 3 days had more positives or negatives for teams and the NFL in general?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
Based on the excitement of the fans and the TV ratings it generated, it seems like the extra time for everybody to talk about it made it a huge success. The one thing that concerns me is these extra weeks really put a lot of pressure on players with extra individual workouts. That's something they may address in the future, because the combine is supposed to answer a lot of those questions. It seems like it doesn't make sense for someone to do everything at the combine and then work out for 15 individual teams. I think the coaches are so tuned into how we've done it for years that they were probably ready at the end of April and these last couple of weeks were probably not needed. It will be interesting going forward if coaches do change their evaluation methods if given more time. But this certainly gives the NFL a big event in May and that's what they were looking for.
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
....one last observation. With all of the new coaches in the NFL, it's very important for them to see their players and evaluate them. By having the draft in May, the new coaches players were able to have a mini-camp and all of the new coaches were able to see their players and see where they were at. In the past, they weren't able to have one before the draft.
Ben (Baton Rouge, LA)
How about the Bears, have they improved their defense enough? And do you like David Fales in the 6th round as Cutler's possible backup?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
There is no question they just about had to go defense, because inconsistent play and age are real problems here. I think all four of their guys, CB, S, 2 DTs have a chance to step in and contribute. It's a very interesting draft, because it seemed like the Bears had to look real long and hard at need versus best athlete available. Hopefully they were able to address both. It was a solid draft but not a lot of sizzle.
Do you think Bortles was drafted too early?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
I was surprised that he went there, because I didn't think any of the QBs would go that high. But if you like anybody, you can't get too cute and risk the chance of someone else going after him. I think Minnesota was probably a team they were concerned about. I think they had such a comfort level on Bortles that they didn't want to take a chance. But if he is what they think he is, then what does it matter if he goes at 3 or 7? And we don't know what they knew, maybe they heard a team was coming after him. And this organization desperately needs a face. He is a local guy who can give them that.
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
If he is as good as we think he can become, it could be a defining moment for this struggling organization.
Jordan (South Florida)
Which first round receiver will have the best rookie season?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
Mike Evans. The reason is I love his skill set and size, but I think he will also play with a QB who is really good. We saw what he did last year in Chicago with two big WRs. All of the other guys in the first round are great talents, but a lot of them have huge questions at the QB position. That could cause them to struggle. One other guy -- Brandin Cooks. You have a great QB in Drew Brees. You have a defined offense that he can step right into and gives Brees those matchups that he likes to exploit. He will have a lot of success.
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
You have to worry about guys like Sammy Watkins. Can EJ Manuel get him the ball?
How will Manziel react with Josh Gordon's suspension?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
It is a huge problem, because they were not able to do anything in the draft to counter it. Even with Gordon, there was concern about the depth of their WR group and would they be able to spread the field. Potentially without him, they simply do not have enough quality targets. It may be that if Manziel plays, the lack of WRs will make him scramble more. But I wouldn't be surprised if this is Brian Hoyer's team, at least early, even though the fan base won't want that. If they do not figure out a way to upgrade the WR position before the season, maybe you let Hoyer start and take the licks, and not take a chance on ruining Manziel because he has nobody open and takes too many hits. I don't know, but I think it put a huge damper on what I thought was a great draft by the Browns.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Now that the draft has been completed. How would you rate the improvement Oakland has made in the offseason?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
Oakland has been very diligent. Even though they had money to spend, they didn't overdo it. They didn't make a lot of bizarre moves like in the past. I thought they were very thoughtful in free agency, by bringing in some mid-level guys who can fill out this roster and can give them a year or two, so they can keep building through the draft. I thought they were very creative in the first two rounds. Khalil Mack was maybe the safest, quality pick high in this draft. I thought that taking Derek Carr in the second round was really an astute move. He really excited a lot of NFL teams with his upside. He's a California guy who can play behind Matt Schaub for a couple of years. If they hit on him, like I think they will, that solidifies a position where they have really struggled for a long time.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
It was an exciting three days. The NFL has to be ecstatic in the interest it garnered. Now, we move on to mini-camps and OTAs. It seems like training camp will be just around the corner. The NFL is truly a year-round league.
Buzzmaster (4:30 PM)
Thanks for chatting Gary!
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