Chat with Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, Scouts Inc.'s Gary Horton stops in to talk about the NFL season and other news from around the league.
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 1 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (1:01 PM)
We've got Gary!
Gary Horton (1:02 PM)
I thought this was a really exciting draft. It went faster than I thought it would. I thought teams were really prepared. I think what is interesting, because we haven't had free agency yet, the coaches were much more involved in draft preparation than they usualy are and it showed in the draft selections.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
Despite failing to add a pass catcher and botching the first round trade I actually think the Chicago Bears had a productive draft. What are your thoughts on the Bears' draft?
Gary Horton (1:04 PM)
I thought they were solid because in the first two rounds, they filled their biggest needs, which were OL and DT. I think they probably got two starters in Carimi and Paea. So, from a needs standpoint, I thought they did a really nice job.
how did the colts do in the draft?the colt run d is still bad,do you think they will address this if there is free agency?
Gary Horton (1:05 PM)
They did get a penetrating DT in the third round. I like what they did in the draft, adding to an OL that has really struggled. They really addressed that need. I don't think they'll be overly active in free agency, but I like what they did in the trenches.
Martin (Harmony, NC)
If you could guess? How many years until the Panthers could be relevant again?
Gary Horton (1:07 PM)
I don't know that we can judge Carolina on their draft yet, because everything revolves around Cam Newton. If he's a good player, they'll have something to build on. If he's not, that will set them back a few years. This team has so many needs and they are so down on all of their personnel, it will be tough for them to make an impace immediately, even if Newton plays well. What I worry about right now, I don't see the veteran on the team for mentoring and I don't see a great offensive line. Not to say that Carolina doesn't have good coaches.
I think the NFC North should look out. While the Lions and Bears had good drafts, they failed to address their secondaries and Green Bay just loaded up even more on offense.
Gary Horton (1:09 PM)
I love to watch how Green Bay approaches the draft. They don't reach for players. They let the draft come to them. On an already great offense, five of their first six picks were on that side of the ball. Not only did they really improve their OL, they added value at WR and RB. Remember, as we have said in the past, they also have 15 guys coming back from injured reserve that already know this system, so the team that we saw at the Super Bowl, will have 20 additional players when we go to training camp. I think the Packers are scary they could be so good.
Richard (Greensboro, NC)
What do you think of the Broncos draft, and in particular, electing not to take a DT? Are there many good options at DT that could be available as free agents?
Gary Horton (1:11 PM)
What I do like is they used six of their nine picks on the defensive side of the ball. They did a great job of addressing their safety needs, which was a big problem a year ago. If Von Miller plays well in the 3-4, they have a pair of good rushers in him and Dumerville. I just don't think they saw the right guys at DT when they picked later in the draft.
Rich (Giants fan in Phoenix)
Who had the better 2011 draft the Giants or the Patriots?
Gary Horton (1:13 PM)
I would have to say that the Giants may have come out on top. Although you have to love how the Patriots massaged the draft, and keep acquiring good future picks, but they did not select an edge pass rusher, which was really surprising to me, because I didn't think they could come out of this draft without finding an edge guy. But they have also in past year filled that need with veteran players. Maybe they fill that need in free agency. The Giants found a great player in Amukamara. If they hit on Austin in the second round, he is an absolute steal. The Giants are a little bit like Green Bay in that they let the drat come to them.
How would you rates Tampa's draft?
Gary Horton (1:15 PM)
I love the philosophy that the Bucs showed in this draft. They addressed their DT issues last year with two top picks. They came back this year and did the same thing at the DE position. As a result in their Cover 2 where they like to only rush four and drop seven, they have a talented front four that should be good for years, a necessity in that defense.
Do you think the Bears should have been held accountable for botching the trade with the Ravens?
Gary Horton (1:16 PM)
Sure. I think they felt guilty, because they didn't call the league. I'm sure somebody was held accountable within the organization. Those kinds of things just shouldn't happen.
Is Detroit's Dline now Elite? Where do they place among the best in the league?
Gary Horton (1:19 PM)
I think the addition of Nick Fairley probably makes them the best DL in all of football with Suh and Vandenbosch. They now have some versatility and can switch matchups. You might even see Suh lining up outside. Fairley will have great role models around him to make sure he's playing hard every down. The Lions are headed in the right direction.
Larry (Kansas City)
What is your assessment of the Chiefs draft?
Gary Horton (1:20 PM)
It's a little bit of a risky draft. They have two guys who are quality players, but with character issues. It was a little surprising to see KC roll the dice on him. If they don't have any off the field problems, they could turn into really good picks. But I thought it was a little risky.
It seems the Jets drafted some really high upside/high risk guys, is that your impression as well?
Gary Horton (1:22 PM)
I know they were obsessed with improving their defensive personnel. I think Wilkerson will be a nice pick as a 3-4 DE, where their biggest need was. Their NT Ellis has a tremendous upside at either the nose or DT, but he has some off the field issues. I think the Jets did some research into making sure he'd be available to them and not in jail. I think there is enough character on that team and leadership that they feel they can take some chances from time to time.
Gary Horton (1:23 PM)
I absolutely loved the 7th round selection of McElroy, the QB from Alabama. He's a brilliant kid with tremendous character who will probably wind up as a great coach when his playing days are over, much like Jason Garrett. He already knows Mark Sanchez. He should be a great complement for Sanchez on the sidelines and in the film room.
How big a reach did you think Ponder was? Does he have the arm to get it done in the Pros?
Gary Horton (1:25 PM)
I thought it was a tremendous reach. If he's the guy that they liked, why not trade down and get him toward the end of the first round and accumulate all of the extra picks. I think that when QBs went at 8 and 10, it looks like they panicked a little bit. But I don't know of anyone else that had him rated that high. He might become a great QB, but they could have added some other quality players with a trade down scenario. I'm still not sure that they won't bring in a veteran to start at least for a while, rather than just hand the reigns to him on a veteran team that still believes that they are playoff contenders.
Would it be fair to say the Jets drafted value over need? I like who they got, but I really felt they needed to get some LB and OL depth out of the later rounds.
Gary Horton (1:27 PM)
I think you're probably right. I think that they probably went with the best player available after filling their DL needs after the first two rounds. The Jets are a very good evaluating staff. I think they have so much confidence in their ability to develop players that when they find a guy with a particular skill set, they believe they can get the best out of him. They remind me a little bit of the Bill Walsh days of the draft, when he had a great feel for the players. His attitude was if I see him do something good once, then it's our job as coaches to make him do it more.
After much consideration, I came to like the Julio Jones trade, but then someone threw this curveball: You could probably get Fitz or Megatron for the same price, no?
Gary Horton (1:30 PM)
I like Jones a lot as a player. The concept of he, White and Gonzalez on the field together gives Matt Ryan an improved passing game, but big threats in the red zone. However, it's my opinion that they gave up too much to get him. They obviously have the philosophy that he might be the one player away from being a Super Bowl team. But when I see them on film, I see them having more defensive needs. I'm not sure they shouldn't have spent more time on that side of the ball. Everyone talks about Green Bay coming into Atlanta in the playoffs, but I think it was Atlanta's defense that let them down.
Gary Horton (1:31 PM)
We're now to the time where we all dreaded: the draft's over, the lockout is stil on. The only football being talked about is what's being said in the courtroom. I just hope for everyone's sake that the excitement from the draft we can get back to sooner rather than later.
Buzzmaster (1:31 PM)