Chat with Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN's NFL "Caveman" -- and Insider -- 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, breaking 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!
Buzzmaster (4:01 PM)
We've got Gary!
Any idea if there will be any more cold weather Super Bowls? I enjoyed watching the game from NY but am curious how players/owners felt about it. Thoughts?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
The NFL really dodged the bullet, to be honest. The day after the Super Bowl, New York had a huge snowstorm and it would have been a horrible situation, if it hit during the weekend. I think more cold weather teams will at least try to get the game. Obviously, if there's a dome involved, which takes weather out of the picture, that makes a lot more sense. The problem is that the Super Bowl has become a big party for the fans and if they can't enjoy it because of the cold, that decreases the popularity. I've always felt that you could have a rotating 2-3 stadiums, like New Orleans, Miami and if San Diego ever got a new stadium, that would be a terrific destination. But, I also understand that when teams build a new stadium, getting a new Super Bowl is a reward. That's really important for the organization and community.
Bobby (Cali) [via mobile]
Aldon Smith? Is his trade value close to nothing now? And what are the chances the 49ers re-sign him NOW?
Craig (Taftville, CT)
What was Aldon Smith thinking with the bomb threat? Is he really that immature, and what should the NFL & 49ers do?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I think more information has to come out. My initial reaction was maybe enough is enough. How could anybody in their right mind make a statement about having a bomb and not realize how serious it is taken? At the very least it's horrible judgement, but when you add it to all of his other problems over the last couple of years, it wouldn't shock me if the 49ers cut him. I'm sure Smith will have explanations, that will try to balance this out, but I just can't understand how he can put himself in this situation. It will be interesting to see if the league takes action; if the 49ers take action and this is going to become a little bit of a drama over the next few days and weeks as they sort it out.
Brandon (Matton, IL)
Way to early prediction on how the NFC North will end up? Thanks
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I think it's a two-team race between Green Bay and Chicago. Both teams are similar in that they have a dynamic offense and holes on defense that forces them to outscore their opponents. Detroit has disappointed us year after year, because we expect so much more. Even though they can be dynamic on offense, it might be asking a new coaching staff too much to be a contender this year. And the Vikings are trailing those three. This has a chance to be a great race between the Packers and Bears. The Lions will have a say in who advances.
I get the feeling the Pro Bowl is on its last legs. It has moved around in recent years and last year they came up with the gimmicky Rice vs Sanders format. As a hardcore NFL fan, I do not watch the game as I see it as less intense and rules which prohibit the players from playing full out. What do you think is the future of the Pro Bowl?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I think it will be a little interesting this year, because they're playing it in Arizona, the site of the Super Bowl. That may allow the Pro Bowl to get a better roster, with more players willing to play who may have not wanted to take the long trip to Hawaii. But I don't know if that's the case. Obviously, it's not been a very representative game over the last few years. But it seems like it's only been the last 2-3 years where players seem to quit competing by not tackling, etc. The biggest question is how do you appeal to their pride to give the fans a worthy product. The Arizona location might help.
Gary, week 1, Vick or Geno? With all the talk about Rex having to win this year its got to be Vick if he's healthy right? Any preference at WR for them in the first if all the second tier WR's are still there?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I think it's going to be a tough decision. But honestly, with all of the film I have watched, I'm still not convinced Geno is the guy. I see glimpses of it, but I don't see it on a consistent basis. But you're right, this team has to win now. They might be on a more comfort level with Vick. The company line could be that Smith needs another year to learn the position while Vick teaches him. But unless they improve the OL and get a run game, it's not going to matter who is the QB.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What NFL Team do you think will take Johnny Manziel in the 2014 NFL Draft?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
To be honest, I have a lot of trouble trying to figure out what's real and not real with Johnny Manziel. I love to watch Manziel play. I think he does somethings that nobody else does. I may be in the minority, but it would scare me to death to draft him at the top. I think there is a bigger margin for error than a lot of people realize and I just don't know that his game translates. Again, I may be in the minority, but I think some of these QBs that we've been talking about for months may drop farther than most people think. Partly because a lot of teams are starting to be really comfortable with the second tier of QBs. That would allow them to take another position with their first pick. That could drop some of these guys down. It's just hard to know right now what to think. I don't know if I've ever seen a draft with so many questions at the QB position and room for movement.
Chris Turner (California)
What do you think about the Saints releasing Lance Moore and Darren Sproles. Do you think they are going to try to change there offence drastically? Or do you think they are hoping to land someone in the draft, or trade for somebody? What are your thoughts?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
Their offense is never going to change. I think they can plug in a guy to replace Moore. However, I think Sproles is a bigger loss than most realize. He is an outstanding outlet WR. He is one of the best screen guys in the league and that's really an element now that they may have lost. But as long as they have Drew Brees, they're going to be good. But no Sproles is something they will struggle to overcome.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Gary - 49ers Kaepernick still the starting quarterback, if they're interested in a replacement for him down the line which of these prospects will be a good fit for SF in the upcoing draft - Jimmy Garoppolo, Logan Thomas, Derek Carr, or David Fales ?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I think the 49ers see Kaepernick as their franchise guy for years to come. However, this is a very savvy front office. They have a lot of picks this year. It would not surprise me at all for them to take a QB higher than we would anticipate just to bulk up the position, espcially with the recent reported troubles he may have off the field. If the 49ers did draft a QB fairly high, it doesn't signal the end for Kaepernick. It just shows they're proactive in making sure they have insurance at the position.
Does it make more sense for the Bills to pick an OT at #9 to help protect EJ, or Ebron from UNC to give him more weapons? Seems like both could help him make the jump in his sophomore campaign.
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
It's always hard to pass on an OL who is a really good player. But this team is really in need of a difference maker at TE or WR. They just don't have enough depth for multi-receiver sets. They need a good pass catching TE. I would think they would have a nice list of WRs and TEs available when they make their pick. That's the direction I would go.
Why has the market been so slow for Chris Johnson? Attitude, age, talent, all of the above?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I don't think that a lot of NFL teams value the RB position like they used to. As many skills as Johnson has, he has not been the big play guy in the past that we are used to seeing. He doesn't seem to hit the hole like he used to. He doesn't seem to break tackles. And he has just enough age where it probably concerns some teams that he may be closer to the end than we realize. I think he'll find a home, but it certainly seems like Tennessee had no interest in re-signing him. That has to be a concern to a lot of other teams. I just don't know right now if teams know if he's a complementary player or if he is the guy. Is he just a first and second down back?
Brandon (Matton, IL)
Which position on D do you see the Bears focusing on with the 14th pick? We need it all!
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I thought they were not very good on all three levels on defense. But in the past several years, they've been horrible at safety. Offenses really exploit them on seam routes and on the inside. And these guys don't cover or tackle. They could certainly look to the secondary to bolster the group. But they could also look at LB too. This has been a very good defense that could be headed for a big dip in production. That will put a lot of pressure on a really good offense.
Ed (Queens Village)
Does 49ers off field distraction carry over into season?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
It obviously has to really bother the whole organization, because there have been more than one situations. However, this is also a very strong, veteran locker room with really good leaders. I would be surprised if they don't police themselves, with the older players working to clean it up. I think the Aldon Smith situation has to really bother them. At what point do you say that's it? You get no more chances. It's time to move on. That has to be a tough question for the organization to answer, especially with a talented player.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
Now that we're less than a month from the draft and most of the pro days and workouts are over, this is where the spin cycle starts. Everybody lies to everybody. We will have countless rumors between now and May 8, but when I was in the NFL as a scout, because you put your final board together, you have your final meetings and your year's worth of work comes down to three days. It's the final pay off.
Buzzmaster (4:31 PM)