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)
As I mentioned last week, I love this time of year, because you really get a chance to look at film. I'm studying all of the new trends we saw in 2012. I'm also taking a look at all of the new coaching changes, in terms of the new philosophies on offense and defense that new coaches will bring in. As we always say, today's NFL is a year round job.
Ryan (Seattle )
gary are you ready to proclaim the seahawks the best team in the nfc west going in to next year ?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
No, I think that the 49ers are still the best team in the NFC West, but I have tremendous respect for the Seahawks and they are absolutely a Super Bowl contender. I don't know how you can put them ahead of the 49ers...yet. I think the 49ers roster, top to bottom, is just about without flaws. Although having said that, you could almost say the same thing about Seattle. Your case is certainly interesting.
Derek (St. Paul) [via mobile]
Gary, what's your take on the Percy Harvin situation? You'd have to do something bad to get under the skin of Leslie Frazier considering his calm demeanor.
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
Yeah, Frazier is a players' coach, most guys love playing for him. To be honest, I don't get that whole situation. I don't know why Harvin appears to be unhappy.
Caveman- What's your favorite position to evaluate?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I love evaluating the offensive line. I think there is so much more skill involved than people realize, especially on offensive lines that play in traps and really interesting blocking schemes. I find it fascinating to evaluate the guys in the trenches.
jim trevethan (Solon, Ohio)
GAry, what are the browns looking to do with their QB position this year? Stay with weedon or........
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I think that's a tough call, because I get the feeling that the new coaching staff and new GM Mike Lombardi are not sold on Weeden as the answer. If that's the case, then to me they should pull the trigger now. There is no use waiting a year if they don't think they can get the job done. But that's a tough call to make, especially with his age. You'd be basically starting over again, unless you can make a trade that you like to bring in a veteran.
I keep hearing more and more that the Pats might let Welker walk...how do you replace that much production?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
It's a tough move, but I sort of understand it. Age is a little bit of a factor. His speed will probably start to decline. As great as he's been, I don't know that we can expect this much production and separation in the future. Bill Walsh had a habit with his great 49ers teams of cutting guys that looked like it was a year or two early, because he had a great feel for when they would start declining and he would cut his losses before it hurt the 49ers. That's a mindset that might not set well with fans and a little heartless, but those are sometimes the decisions you have to make.
Tim (El Cajon, CA)
Gary, what do you figure Harvin's worth is right now?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
Oh, I think his value is very high. There is no question that he's one of the top playmakers in the NFL. He can give you instant offense. I'm sure there are a lot of coaches that will buy into all he needs is a change of scenery. I don't know if that's the case or not, but when you're that talented, a lot of people will take a chance on you.
Gary- How hard is it to evaluate players with such different development levels? Such as, comparing the floor/ceiling of a "conventional", "proven" defensive end versus a raw but extremely athletic player like Ezekial Ansah?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
That's why you get paid as a scout. Part of the thing you do is not only evaluating a guy's skill level, but also projecting how much he can improve and how much his growth level is as a player. That's not always easy. It's hard for a scout to not get caught up in production and look at the other things that are position specific. But you have to do it, because making the right production on a young player, especially a college player, is critical in how you draft him or, in the case of league players, how much you pay him, etc.
Of all the new Head Coaches hired who do you think has the toughest team to turn around?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
I would say Jacksonville is the toughest one to turn around, because they have the least amount of talent, in my estimation. I don't think they have a QB that they are sure can be the future of the franchise. And the only real marquee player they have is MJD, who is still a good player, but an aging back. I think you also have an apathetic fan base. I think they're a long ways away from being competitive.
Martin (New York, NY)
If you were Jerry Reese and could only sign one guy to a long term deal, who would it be between Cruz and Nicks?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
Oh, I would do Victor Cruz. I think his production will continue. I think he's really explosive and I really like his consistency. I think he's a guy who will do all of the right things for years to come. And I also think he'll stay healthy. They're both really good players, but I think Nicks has such a great future.
Steve (Long Island) [via mobile]
How much would the Patriots pay Ed Reed
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I don't know if they would overpay him, but I know that Bill Belichick has tremendous respect for Reed. They have a good personal relationship. And Belichick would love to have his consistency and veteran leadership, especially at a position that they've been trying to get right for years. Reed has lost a step and he's not as fast as he used to be but he can still read routes and jump the ball. It would be fun to see him with Belichick for the last few years of his career. But I don't see how Baltimore can let him go.
Afternoon, Gary. I'm a Detroit Lions fan. Lions have the 5th pick in the draft. Casual fans say they need a CB, serious fans say a DE. I think they need BPA, someone who will make an impact. What do you day?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
They have had tremendous issues in the secondary. They need help at LB. And this DL that we used to think was one of the deepest in the NFL has also shown cracks. They also need to fix their running game. They need an every down back that can give them some offensive balance.
Is there even the slightest risk that Chip Kelly pulls a Saban and bolts back to college after 2 years? It doesn't give me the warm & fuzzies that he announced he was staying at Oregon and then was coaxed out. Also, some NFL Execs felt that his heart wasn't in it when interviewing for Head Coaching jobs.
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
Everybody that I've talked to that knows Kelly thinks that he is really committed to getting this right. He left a very safe and comfortable job at Oregon. The guys that I've talked to say that he's an old-school grinder football coach. Nothing fancy, will work hard. I believe he will relate well to his players. I'm very curious to see what his offense and defense will look like, because I'm not sure we know that yet. I think he's got to develop into a solid NFL coach. I do not think he's a gimmick.
Thoughts on Vick re-signing? Really no other move for either side, right?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I think it's probably a good move, especially if Kelly runs something close to his Oregon offense and has a top of option attack. I think the Michael Vick that we saw last year still has some quality production in him.I think giving him one more year as Kelly tries to figure out this roster is probably a smart year. My guess is that they will work together very well.
Walt (So. Cal)
Do you think if Phillip Rivers has a horrible year the Chargers will look to make a move to replace him?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
It's hard for me to believe the he would have another bad year. He's just too talented of a guy. Maybe a new change in coaching staff will give him a fresh approach. It will be very difficult for the Chargers to start over at the QB position, especially since this is a veteran team. They're not as talented as they used to be, but they're not that far away in their division from being a contender. They just need to get him more weapons and better protection, which is probably something you could say about every QB.
Martin (New York, NY)
Do you really think Joe Flacco is worth a top 5 contract?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
Well, it's hard to argue about it right now, with the way he played in the playoffs. It's hard to imagine that he could play that kind of error free football for a long period of time, but he has a lot of good years left. He is the face of that franchise. They are not going to take a step back on offense. He has great weapons, a good run game. When I watch him on film, nobody throws the deep ball better than he does. I think he gambled a little bit on himself and he obviously won.
Will the Steelers be contenders this year or are they getting too old, too fast?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I think age is a real problem with the Steelers, especially on the defensive side of the ball. I just don't know if they have enough speed. They don't create the turnovers and big plays like they used to. On offense, they've got to get better on the offensive line and protect Big Ben. They're still a veteran team with a lot of pride, but I don't think the margin for error is what it used to be.
The Packers can't bring back Finley at $8.5m can they? Great athlete and oodles of potential but the opportunity to turn paper into real life has passed and so many areas to better risk that kind of cap impact, right?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
It's a tough decision, because tight ends that are matchup problems are heavily desired in this league. You want guys who can flex, go in motion, that can dominate a LB or safety in coverage. And Finley is that guy. You can't replace him easily. But I understand there are financial issues. I understand the organization will have to look at.
Sorry to fast forward but which coaches are on the hot seat come the start of 2013 season? Ron Rivera comes to mind...
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
Oh, I don't think there's any question about Rivera being on the hot seat. The owner likes him, but that could go away quickly if they don't win. There's a feeling in that organization that their talent level might not be elite, but it's good enough to get competitive. The expectation of them making a move for the playoffs is very real and I feel the heat will turn up really quickly if they get off to a slow start.
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
Even though it doesn't seem very exciting, we are getting closer to free agency. Fans certainly have the combine to look forward to at the end of this month. As we continue to say, it's a never ending calendar in the NFL.