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!
Gary Horton (4:03 PM)
I'm ready for your questions!
Thomas Kittery (Manchester)
When if ever will the running back position return to its past glory?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
These things are obvious cycles. Right now we are in the era of split offenses with wide receiver sets. It's partly about what the college game is producing player-wise. I think we will still see the value of backs, especially for teams who play in bad weather. They need guys who can eat the clock and finish games. If you have a back that can stay in on third down and catch out of the backfield, that is a good commodity to have. What we don't see right now is teams with power backs who are two down players. With teams playing so much shotgun it is difficult to put in a power run game.
Robert T. (Illinois)
What is your take on how Manziel will work out for the Browns? Do you really see him as a franchise QB?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I really go up and down on that one. He's magical to watch and a playmaker. But he is so small I just wonder with this style of play how he can hold up for an entire season. Especially when he may not have a great receiving corp. There are some days I think he will be great and other days I wake up and think this is something that may not work at all.
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I don't understand why they are so publicly saying he is the backup. Hoyer doesn't have the resume to be handed the starting job. Why not stay quiet and just let them fight it out in training camp?
Henry (New York, NY)
If you were Jeff Fisher would you have had a problem with Michael Sam doing the documentary for Oprah? Is it really that much of a distraction? Is a locker room THAT sensitive?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
On the positive side it sounds like they wouldn't have been in any meetings or on the field. But this is a guy fighting to make a roster and having all those off the field responsibilities was probably going to be too problematic. The message that Sam wants to carry to everybody will be a lot stronger if he is a St. Louis Ram instead of a player the Rams cut.
Do you like the idea of expanding the playoffs in the NFL?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I think it's always good to have more teams be relevant later in the season. You want more teams to at least have that chance to get to the postseason. I think it's a great product already but adding a couple teams to the playoff mix would certainly be welcome to me. The players will like it I'm sure as it's more money to be made. Although it's more wear and tear on the body. I know folks will complain that there are already too many mediocre teams getting to the playoffs but that will happen no matter what you do. It happens in every sport.
Ed (Queens Village)
How many rookie QB's start on opening day?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think there are two chances ... Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota, almost by default ... and I think Manziel has a strong chance no matter what the team says. I think they would be willing to start him. I know people think Blake Bortles has a chance to Jacksonville but I really think they would like to hold him back for at least part of his rookie season. I do believe them when they say they want to develop him. It will be interesting to see how close Savage gets to the field in Houston.
Sean Meeks (New York, NY)
What was the most surprising part of the draft for you?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
Overall this draft didn't have many surprises. It was so deep that teams felt good about staying where they were, knowing they would get a good player. I suppose Manziel dropping was a bit of a surprise. Although many people anticipated that as the draft got closer. Another surprise was how we simply do not value running backs. They were a complete afterthought in this draft. As we mentioned earlier, it will be interesting to see how long that trend lasts.
Hey Gary, do you think the Patriots are the clear favorites in the AFC East or do you think the Jets, Dolphins, and Bills have done enough to make it interesting?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
Yes, I think they are still the clear favorite. Not necessarily because they are stronger, but because nobody else in the division has made enough strides to catch them. I think all the other teams look like 8-8 squads. Certainly one could emerge. As long as the Patriots get some vets back healthy and they can protect Brady, they will be in most games. I don't think they are dominant right now, but I think they are almost a lock as they are every year to get to the playoffs.
Alex Maffesoli (Chicago)
when will Jay Cutler push the Bears over the hump and make the playoffs
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I look for great things from them on offense this year. They were really exciting a year ago and embraced Tressman's offense. This team has weapons in the passing game, a solid run game, and an underrated offensive line. I think that leads to a big Cutler year with his new contract. I think the offense is going to have to carry this team because their defense is not very good. They were horrible in stopping the run last year and back at tackling. They should be better this year but they are no longer a dominant defense that creates turnovers in bunches.
How many games until Bridgewater is starting QB in Minn?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I think he could have a chance to start in Week 1. We all thought he might be the most NFL-ready QB even though his workouts didn't excite us. My first reaction was that I would let Cassel be the starter for awhile and bring Bridgwater along. But OC Norv Turner is great at developing QBs and if they see something from him in training camp they could give him a chance to step in and play quickly. This doesn't look like a playoff team right now so why not let the rookie get his snaps. I just think he will probably be more solid in practice than the other rookie QBs and that could help him with his coaches.
Bert (St. Paul, MN)
Wide receivers aside, do you see Cam Newton becoming a top flight quarterback?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I absolutely do. He has a great skill set. He is improving each year. You are exactly right though. I worry about his receivers. I think he has become more consistent at the QB position and I think the fact they have an elite defense takes a lot of pressure off him because he knows that opposing offenses are not going to put together a lot of long drives. He knows he is going to get the ball back and so he doesn't force big plays as much.
Lane (kukuihaele, hi) [via mobile]
Are you surprised backup QBs like Kirk Cousins and Ryan Mallet weren't traded during the draft?
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
Yes, very surprised. I expected Cousins to go to Cleveland because of Kyle Shanahan. And I probably was even more convinced Mallet would end up in Houston. When the Pats drafted Garoppolo I thought for sure they would trade him. So I find that very puzzling. But it's still possible. Both are good, young players who could have some real trade value if QBs get hurt. I can see Washington keeping Cousins because of RGIII's health.
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
Thanks for the questions! It always amazes me that even in mid-May with the draft over and not much going on, there is still plenty to talk about in the NFL! It just shows how much this is a year-round game! Talk to you next week!