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 (4:02 PM)
As we said last week, free agency will really slow down now as teams are gearing up for the draft. We are seeing small deals that fill specific holes on the roster. I think we can expect a little flurry after the draft depending on how teams fill those needs. The next three weeks are going to be fast and furious.
what did you think of the commish holding up the Saints suspensions?
Gary Horton (4:03 PM)
I was not surprsied at all. I don't think any new information was uncovered. When he's the judge and the jury, there isn't much wiggle room. I'm a little surprised that they appealed it. I don't think anybody thought that the penalties would be reduced.
If Blackmon is gone at 6 when the Rams pick would it be better to try to trade down then to reach or draft some one like Richardson who isn't a huge need?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
RB would be very interesting to have a guy like Richardson to put with Steven Jackson. I do believe you're right that they're entertaining offers at No. 6 to trade down, in case Blackmon is gone. I think it's really interesting that at picks 4, 5, 6 you have Richardson, Blackmon and Claiborne and all three are elite guys that fill needs for the teams that are picking there. If you're one of those three teams, you're probably a little hesitant to move out because you're going to get an impact player. Having said that, St. Louis has a lot of needs to fill and they coudl move back a little bit and get some extra picks. I think there will be an interesting market for picks 4, 5, 6. For some odd reason, there doesn't seem to be much action at No. 3 for Minnesota.
Would Justin Blackmon be a good fit for the Browns?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I think the Browns could fill a need with any of those guys, RB, WR, CB. At no. 4, they're going to get a tremendous player. I don't think they can go wrong. What I find intriguing about that pick is would they pull the trigger on Ryan Tannehill that high. Common sense says they wouldn't do it. Everyone thinks he could go to Miami at 8. But I just don't think they believe in their QB situation right now. I don't think it would be a shocker to see them go QB. They can't trade down a lot, because Miami may be in position to trade up a little bit. It's an interesting scenario. I get the feeling that Tannehill may be one of those guys that gets overdrafted.
Rich (Bradenton, Fla)
How serious are John Elway and the Broncos drafting Brock Osweiler of Arizona State? And will he go in the 1st or 2nd Round?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I think you're exactly on target there. As much as they need help on defense, I don't think it would be surprising at all to draft a QB in the first or second round. They want a young guy to develop behind Manning. I think John Elway really sees that as a future need, despite having Caleb Hanie as a No. 2 right now. Keep in mind, we have all seen what happened in Indy when Manning didn't play. Even though he's not going to be around forever as a starting QB, getting a young guy ready and not getting in the bind like the Colts did is something very desirable. And, the way this draft looks like it's going to drop, if Miami takes Tannehill, there's not another team with a glaring QB need. You're going to have about four guys that are good players that you can get at a nice price. In the second round, it's probably a buyer's market.
Who do you see the Bears drafting with their first-round pick? They need to find an eventual replacement for Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, so why not pick Dont'a Hightower? Also, what are your expectations for the Bears this season?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
Probably their biggest need is on the offensive line. But their multiple needs are on defense. They need a pass rusher off the edge; that could be a 4-3 DE. Obviously, LB is a spot they need to get ready. And they have a need in the secondary, they don't have enough CBs after Tillman. They had 8 different starting safety combinations in 2011. There is a lot of work to be done on defense.
Hi Gary - Do you think the Patriots should leave McCourty at safety and pursue a cb in the draft? If so, can they get a starting cb where they are currently drafting or should they move up to get someone? Thanks
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
They could do that if they had to. But I think they want him to stay at CB. Knowing that he can fill in at nickel packages. They need to find a range safety. They don't match up well when you have to get into their sub packages at CB. They don't have enough guys. I think a big need for them is an edge pass rusher. They go back and forth between a 3-4 and 4-3. This is a position for some reason they have ignored or come up short with for a number of years now. That's one of the big reasons they played so poorly on the back end is because there is no pressure up front. They bolstered their passing game in the offseason, which is already strong, so you have to think this is a defensive draft.
Could you see the Steelers possibly trading up to get someone like Poe or Hightower if they are not going to make it to 24 or do you think they will stick with the 24th selection?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
What's interesting is the Steelers look like their defensive weaknesses are right up the middle of the defense. Injuries and retirements have taken a toll on their depth. They have a big hole at NT, ILB and age is a factor at safety, though they're still pretty good there.
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think they could look at any of those three spots, along with CB, with William Gay gone. Also, keep in mind that RB is also an issue here, because of injuries. If I'm evaluating this team now, there are more holes on this roster, in terms of lack of depth than I have seen in a long time.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, what way would you say is the best way to build the Vikings for the future? Draft Kalil first, then draft best available DB's and WR's the next couple rounds, then best player available after that?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I think that's probably what they will be forced to do, because it appears to me that they're really trying to shop that No. 3 pick. But for some reason, it doesn't appear that a lot of people want to move into that spot. Kalil is a good player who really fills a need. But Minnesota probably looks at this draft where they need to have a lot of fixes. But this is an aging roster. That would be a safe pick, if they're forced to stay at 3.
If they are both available, who should the Cowboys draft - M. Barron, D. Poe, or F. Cox?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I have CB as their No. 1 need, even though they signed Brandon Carr from KC. The back end of this defense really struggled. They love to blitz a lot which puts the CBs on an island. They could also use help at LB, both inside and outside. They could use help at safety. It looks like they're really giving their OL a makeover. But I think they feel like they've made enough moves in free agency to fill their glaring holes. But they're almost in a position in the draft to go after best athlete available.
It appears Wallace will be a Steeler next year, but after that do you see him signing a long term deal with Pittsburgh or going elsewhere especially since he and Brown will be FAs
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
Oh yeah, I think they realize that he's their best offensive weapon right now. There's no question that if they can free up enough money, they want to get a deal done. They're sweating it out that no one approaches him as a restricted free agent.
Do the Bears have a need at WR now that they signed Eric Weems and Devin Thomas and traded for Brandon Marshall?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I think you could probably say that's a need, but it's a luxury need. They have so many things that are pressing. What some people are missing is they need a tight end. A pass catching TE was not a big deal in the Mike Martz regime. But under Mike Tice it will be a big spot. Finding a TE over a WR may be a bigger deal right now.
Dan (FL) [via mobile]
Would Asante Samuel be worth trading a second or third round pick instead of drafting someone younger?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
Yeah, at the right price, he would be available. But you don't want to overpay for a CB. It's a lot harder to do that than people realize. You talk about making draft day deals, but it's hard to move veteran players. Teams spend so much time on the draft and evaluating those guys. Having said that, there is a lot of concern from coaches and teams that there aren't enough cover CBs coming out of college these days to deal with these spread offenses. That probably makes a guy like Samuel a valuable commodity.
Are the Giants favorites to repeat?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
The Giants never do a lot in free agency. They believe in their philosophy in building through the draft. I think they're in good shape. They need to improve their OL. They probably need to draft a RB. They need to address their defense in the draft, because they have potential free agency on their defense a year from now. There is nothing glaring missing on this team. I would have to say that because they're so stable they would be the favorites in 2012.
How will the Bears incorperate the TE into the offense? They have Kellen Davis and Matt Speath, but Speath is more of a blocker.
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
Well, as I mentioned earlier, Mike Martz just didn't use a TE, but new OC Mike Tice will. The two veterans Davis and Speath are better blockers than receivers. They don't have a matchup guy that they can flex and move around to open up the offense. That kind of guy could really help Jay Cutler. In the past, they've been an easy pass offense to matchup against.
Are the Bengals your favorite to win the AFC North?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I think they're a good football team and I think they're headed in the right direction. They really have playmakers. But I don't know with Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the same division if you can make them the favorites. I will say this, I see more weaknesses and holes in Baltimore and Pittsburgh than I have in a long time. That makes both of them vulnerable to injuries. The more I think about it, you might be on to something.
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
This is a fun time of the year, if you have a scouting background if you love to anticipate what a team will do. These last few weeks when you're putting your final board together, it's really fascinating. This was always my favorite time in the evaluation process.