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)
I thought this was as exciting a draft and well prepared for as I have seen in several years. It seemed to me that due to the rookie wage scale, where it doesn't cost a lot to move around, that we saw a lot more trades. I thought teams really drafted for need rather than best athlete available, which is a little bit of a departure from the past.
Gary - By the cowboys selecting M Claiborne, this provides them another defensive cornerstone for years to come - not only this year! Your thoughts?
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
I thought it was one of the best moves on Day 1. The back end of this defense has really struggled in the last couple of years. Keep in mind that they brought in Brandon Carr in free agency. Now, they have two corners that can play man to man schemes on an island. That allows Rob Ryan the freedom to blitz whenever he wants. He doesn't have to protect his CBs like he did a year ago. The trickle down with this defense will be very dramatic.
Who does Gary say won the"draft"
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I thought Tampa Bay did a great job of merging free agency and the draft. They filled the most critical needs early in free agency and that allowed them to attack their remaining needs in the draft. I came away with the feeling that they were really prepared and had a good feel for where players would be picked and they drafted accordingly. I thought Buffalo did a nice job, again, of merging free agency and the draft. I thought Cincinnati did a nice job of quietly addressing each need. It seemed like the draft really broke for them nicely. Those are some of the initial teams I thought did really well.
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I also found it very interesting that the two worst defensive teams in the NFL a year ago, Green Bay and New England each spent their first six draft picks on defensive players. If that's not drafting for need, I don't know what it is.
Why are all the 'experts' down on the Dolphins draft? They HAD to pick Tannehill at 8 because he wouldn't have lasted into the teens. They addressed the pass rush, TE, and even got a possible spark plug in Miller. What am I missing?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I don't think they had a bad draft. I just think that right now the image of this front office is just not very good. I think their failure to come up with a QB in free agency probably still irritates a lot of people. I agree with you that Tannehill was probably a necessity because they need a QB to build around. The more I study this offense that they are putting in, the more it seems like he may really fit the scheme with his skill set. Although, do not expect him to play immediately like a lot of these young QBs.
Please tell me the 3rd round is the round you grab a punter?!!
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I think in the case of a punter or placekicker, if you think they are that good, then go get him. Even though it looks extremely high. Remember, there is only one of those guys and there are 32 teams that might like him. A great punter or placekicker can help you win games and you can't say that about a lot of guys you draft in the third round. Look at the Raiders.
Michael (Durham (UK))
Hi Gary! Did any teams particuary surprise you in the draft? Either good or bad? And who would you consider as a potential surprise team next season?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
Seattle's initial selection of Bruce Irvine was surprising. But I've had more time to think about it and I've been told that they really had a lot of information about his off the field problems to make them comfortable. He will line up at their "Leo" position as primarily as an edge rusher. As a rookie, they won't ask him to play every down. That pick is probably then a little less surprising.
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I was also surprised by the Jets picking Quinton Coples. He's a good player, but his motor can be inconsistent. He doesn't really project to a OLB pass rusher in that defense, which they really need and he will probably play inside. Initially it didn't seem like a perfect fit.
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
On a positive note, I love what the Steelers did in drafting Mike Adams and David Decastro. If they hit on these two guys, they have four rock solid OL for years to come. This could turn into one of the best units in the NFL.
I'm perplexed over the Browns draft Gary! I'm not opposed to drafting Weeden, but at 22? The move screams panic. Why not move back from 22, still get Weeden, and use the compensation gained to leverage a deal for a WR? Yes they had a plan, but the execution of that said plan was reckless and panic driven. Out of bounds or accurate Caveman?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
Well, there are some people who think they pulled the trigger too early on that pick. There are some people who think they were outbluffed in moving up to No. 3 to get Richardson, although we may never know for sure. In the case of Weeden, they would have had to wait to 37 or try to move back up. I just don't think they felt he would have lasted that long. It is clear to me that they think he will be their starting QB. If that's the case, then I don't really fault them for taking him at 22, because I don't think there was a lot of wiggle room there. I thought they might have had a little more faith in Colt McCoy, obviously they don't.
Pete (Rutland, VT)
Hi Gary, what are your thoughts on the 49er's draft?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
Their first two picks are a little bit of a roll of the dice. But if they play well, they could hit it big. WR AJ Jenkins and RB LaMichael James are both explosive players with big time potential production. The 49ers wanted to try and become more of an explosive offense instead of a plodding offense that they were last year.
What was the biggest surprise of the bears draft? Shea in Rd 1 or no offensive lineman at all?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I was really surprised that they did not address the OL, which I thought was really in need of an upgrade, especially with Mike Tice as their OC, who is an OL coach by trade. They claim that they're comfortable with the guys up front, but I really don't see it. Their first round pick, McClellin, I wonder if he doesn't fit this defense. His skills might be more of a 3-4 OLB, but in this defense he'll have to line up as a 4-3 DE.
Grade KC draft.Is Dontari Poe a bust?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
It's going to be a feast or famine pick. There is no question that what you see in film compared to what he did at the combine don't mesh at all. Drafting a NT was a huge need for the Chiefs. I don't think there is any middle ground on this pick.
Sir, free agency mostly done, draft done. Who will be the top 4 (2 AFC & 2 NFC) teams going into this coming year? Thanks.
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
First of all, let me say one thing philosophically. I think that teams did such a good job of drafting according to need this year that I think it really slows down the free agency market for veterans after the draft, because I just don't think there are enough spots available. I think it will be tougher than we thought for veterans to catch on now.
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
Having said that, I love what Buffalo has done in free agency and the draft, along with Tampa Bay. I love how PIttsburgh attacked the offensive line. I love the fact that Green Bay and New England both went heavy on defense in the draft to improve the weakest part of their teams. It appeared to me as I watched this draft unfold, and as I've reflected in the last 24 hours. Teams had a great plan on action in both free agency and the draft. It seemed like the plans were all there and they followed through. We will all reap the results because of the product on the field.
Haven't the Giants shown you cant have enough pass rushers? Rex can push Coples to be a hard worker and become a good pick too. Regarding Stephen Hill, isn't he the ideal blocking WR for Tebow, giving him time to learn the pro game? #BestCaseScenario
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
Coples is capable of being a really good player and a fine pick. I believe that Rex Ryan thinks that he and this defense will put him in position to find that consistency. I'm probably more surprised at why they didn't get that edge guy, who they really needed. But they know their roster well and they appear to be very comfortable with him. The Giants are a perfect example of you can never have too many pass rushers, you're right. The only thing about that is you're going to have to let some of them go or trade them because you can't pay them all. I do know this, a good pass rush can hide an ineffective back end of your defense.
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I think it was an exciting three-day draft. I like the way the NFL conducts the draft now. The pace at which the draft is going really keeps people interested and there is just never a dull moment. In my opinion, our game couldn't be any healthier than it is now.