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)
We finished our first round of looks at mini-camps this weekend. That's always an interesting time to really evaluate these young guys together. Most of the progress that you make is in the class room, but you can at least run around and get a feel for what kind of shape everyone is in, etc. Sometimes people think there is a lull after the draft, but it's really a busy schedule until about the middle of June when the players leave and the coaches go on vacation. The next five weeks is a lot of teaching and learning.
Keegan Hartzell (402 N Fordham Fresno,CA)
Who do you think will have a bigger effect on their team Manti T'eoor Geno Smith?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
I think it's probably going to be Geno Smith, even though he's probably in a feast or famine situation. Manti will likely start out as a two-down player. The 3-4 defense, he'll start in the middle. He'll be a solid guy without being an impact player. Smith will have tremendous pressure to carry this offense and be the future of the Jets. Otherwise they'll be in big trouble. Having said that, the lack of offensive weapons around him could really slow his offensive production.
True or false, the ravens defense this year will be better than last years?
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
I don't know if that's necessarily true, because they are replacing so many guys. Not only in terms of production but also in leadership. I will say this that I am in shock and also admire how Ozzie Newsome has replenished this unit in the offseason. A month ago, we thought this defense was an absolute disaster. Now, they look like they're going to be OK.
Enjoy your work Gary. Please handicap Chiefs shot at playoffs and share thoughts on skills of Alex Smith and potential of Tyler Bray. Thanks and stay healthy.
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I think Andy Reid and a new QB will bring tremendous stability to the Chiefs. When you really look at their roster on film, they are not that bad. They have playmakers at almost every position and a chance for a really good defense and a dominating run game. They just can't make the mistakes they've made the last couple of years. Smith will allow them to play much smarter football. I think they're at least an 8-8 team who could likely finish second in the AFC West and maybe give Denver a better fight than most people realize. This is not a total rebuilding job. I think we'll be surprised at how competitve they are.
Tebow to the packers make any sense? He would be better fit than graham Harrell to backup Rodgers right?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
That's really not the Packer way to do something like that. I just don't know if Green Bay would see the value in everything else that goes along with having Tim Tebow on your roster. I personally would like for him to find a team, but I haven't talked to anybody that's optimistic about him being on a roster in the near future.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Would you characterize the Raiders improvement during the offseason as considerably, marginally, not at all?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I think you have to understand the situation they were in when GM Reggie McKenzie took over. Their salary cap was an absolute disaster. They had no ability to add free agents and their past drafts had produced very little. I really studied them the last few months and I think they're on the right track. They cleaned up the cap. They seemed intent on building through the draft and young players. I looked at their picks in this last draft and it seemed like they had a good feeling about what they needed and how to go about it. They just look like an organized front office now. But before we get too optimistic, we need to realize that this is still one of hte weakest rosters in the NFL and this is likely going to be a slow process.
Matt (New York)
What are the chances that Victor Cruz does sign with the giants? And if he doesn't do you see the giants making a move or sticking with the group of recievers that they have?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
I would be very surprized if Cruz does not end up signing with the Giants. They need to get a deal done. He sees the advantages of signing in NYC and he realizes that and he has a coaching staff that puts a good value on him. The problem is, if they did move him, they would really be in a tough situation, especially when he is working out of the slot. I don't know where they go to find another guy, especially at this late stage.
Which qb do you think will be opening day starter for the eagles?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
In my mind, there is no question that it will be Michael Vick. He has the skill set that fits with what Chip Kelly wants. He can run this offense well. But I really do like Matt Barkley and I think he fits in Philadelphia a lot better than what most people think. I watched a lot of Oregon film in the last couple of weeks. What we'll see, I think, is Vick run this for a year or two and then Barkley step in. But this will be very fun to watch.
Post draft thought- early Super Bowl prediction
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
I don't think you can evaluate a draft that highly, unless you get a franchise QB. If you're really a good team right now, a lot of times your rookies are not going to make an impact in Year 1, because you already have good players as starters. Having said that, in the NFC, I really like Seattle and San Francisco. It would not surprise me that the NFC Super Bowl participant comes out of the NFC West. In the AFC, I like Houston a lot and I like Denver as early favorites to emerge.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
There is still plenty of work to do but does John Idzik have the Jets moving in the right direction?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
Well, I think he has a plan and I think he is not afraid to make tough decisions. But when you watch the Jets on film, this may be the worst roster in the NFL. They have so many holes and such a lack of game changing players, that I think it's going to take them more time than people realize to become competitive. Especially since right now they don't have a QB to build around.
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I think Idzik will stay committed to his overall plan and I think he will show patience, but the real key may be will the ownership and fans give him enough time to turn this thing around.
what are your thoughts on the Bears offseason? How have they done?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I think they've been steady. I think they've made some solid moves without being too aggressive. I think they've looked to replenish two big areas of concern: LB and OL. However, they really didn't do much to upgrade the WR position. I don't think they're an elite team and I worry about age becoming a factor, but I think Marc Treastman will put together a very interesting offense. But asking the defense to force as many turnovers as they did a year ago is probably too optimistic.
Do you feel that this is a make-or-break year for Sam Bradford?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
Probably not quite yet, because he's still a young guy. It's so hard to make a change with your franchise QB. However, I think there is more pressure on him this year, because he now has quality offensive weapons. He has better depth in his passing game than he has ever had in the past. That will lead to higher expectations. Without Steven Jackson, the coaches may have him throw the ball a little more.
Do you see any way the Chiefs and Albert iron things out and reach a long term agreement? Thanks...
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I think it's probably headed in that direction now, because everybody is seeing that Albert isn't going to get the deal that he thought he would. I don't know if he gets a long term deal, but I think the likely scenario is having Albert play LOT this year with Eric Fisher at ROT and then they can move Fisher to LOT a year from now, if Albert were to leave. I know if they can keep him, that gives them two really good bookend tackles. Fisher would have no problem playing on the right side.
How are the Falcons looking?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I think they were a contender before the offseason started. This is really a good roster. Tony Gonzalez coming back is a huge advantage. Jackson gives them a chance at a legit run game. I think the key will be on defense. I like the fact that they went with three defensive players in the first four rounds of the draft, including two CBs high. This defense plays with a lot of sub packages and that requires multiple CBs. I thought they did a nice job of addressing that.
Jordan (Casper, Wy)
Bengals defense has taken them to the playoffs the last two years, is this the year the offense catches up?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I think we will see improvements in this offense in 2013. I love the fact that they added Tyler Eifert in the draft to give them a legit two TE package. I also think Giovanni Bernard is a good matchup RB as an outlet receiver on third down. This offense, I think, will be a much better passing team on third down than they were last year. Also, the rest of the division has come back to the pack a little bit.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
We'll have a new set of mini-camps this weekend, which should be fun to evaluate. What I really enjoy at this time of the year, is evaluating teams with new coaches and get a feeling for what I think they'll run on offense and defense and see what their schemes will be. There is always something to do in today's NFL.