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)
Gary is here!
Martin (Indiana) [via mobile]
I feel like Jake Locker has the potential to be a franchise quarterback. You with me homie?
Gary Horton (4:02 PM)
I just don't know yet, because he can't seem to stay healthy. I think he has the right coaches this year. They will make this a QB friendly offense, but he must stay on the field to really be evaluated. If they don't have a really strong run game, which could be the case, that could put a lot of pressure on him to carry this offense.
Hi Gary, do you see the Bills having a similar approach on offense with continuing to play fast and being run heavy - and secondly will Watkins be used downfield or more quick screens and other quicker passes to him? thanks
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
I think that's exactly what they'll do on offense. One of their big goals will be to increase the tempo and get the play off quickly. It will be interesting to see if Manuel can do that. We also know, as you say, they run the ball almost more than any other team in the league. That takes pressure off the QB. They now have a franchise WR. This offense has a chance to be very productive.
Jeff l.a.,cali [via mobile]
Is alex smith an elite qb?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I think he's a solid QB, who fits perfectly for the Chiefs. And I think you can win with him, but I'm not sure he can carry a team. I will admit that I liked his deep ball better a year ago than I used to. And he's steady and smart. But I'm just not sure that he makes enough game-changing plays. But with the running game that he has, he can be very effective in this offense. I don't think the Chiefs have any concerns about the QB position.
In the long run it probably means nothing, but what are your thoughts on Marcel Darius not passing his initial conditioning test?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
Teams put a lot into those first tests. It gives you a good barometer of what a guy's been doing in the last month away from the team. That doesn't mean that these players won't get into shape, and they will in all likelihood get ready by the regular season, but I would be very concerned about Darius, considering all of the off the field problems he's had. I can't understand why a guy who needs to re-establish himself wouldn't take really good care of his conditioning and show the coaches that he's ready to play. I think that's a bigger deal than actually the physical ramifications.
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
What is also concerning is that all of these players know what these tests are all about. So, this is no surprise and to not pass is just a lack of discipline.
Ali l.a. cali [via mobile]
Who gets the starting nod in the raider running game d mcfad or mjd?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
The easy answer is that they'll probably share carries and I think a lot of it will probably have to do with McFadden's health. He probably has more explosiveness than MJD, but MJD is a workhorse you can count on. I think they can both be solid producers on an offense that really needs the run game to be the focus.
who should I put in my fantasy team Matthew Stafford or Russel Wilson
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I would probably rather have Matthew Stafford. He'll put up bigger numbers on an offense that will pass more than run. That may not mean wins, but for a fantasy owner, that could be very productive. Wilson's offense has great balance. They run the ball a lot and they don't ask him to put up huge numbers on a weekly basis. He will win a lot more games, but in my mind, his numbers will be solid, but not spectacular, with a very likeable lack of mistakes.
Bacot l.a., cali [via mobile]
Will k mack have a huge impact on the raiders defense?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
First, and foremost, they have very few impact players, so he should be very productive early. He can be a great edge rusher in both the 3-4 and 4-3 defenses. And I think because he is their best pass rusher, they will figure out ways to use him. It would not surprise me to see him in discussions for defensive rookie of the year.
Ben (Baton Rouge, LA)
How should coaches respond to these failed conditioning tests? Should they hand down specific punishments, or simply place a general red flag on that player that needs to be monitored?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
Well, it places a little bit of a red flag. But most coaches prefer to handle this internally. Fining players, etc. sets training camp off on a bad note and that's not what you want. What it really means is these players will spend extra time conditioning in training camp, until they get up to speed. I don't have any doubts that it won't be long before he's passing these tests. Now that training camp is starting, the coaches control them and that's a good thing.
Hoyer or Manziel opening day?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think it's Hoyer, who I really liked before he got hurt, because I think he will make better decisions. I think he is probably way ahead, in terms of his ability to read a defense and getting to the right play. It wouldn't shock me for them to put together a package of plays for Manziel, where he could play in selected spots, but I think this is Hoyer's job to lose, until the Browns are out of the playoff picture, but it certainly makes for an interesting camp, especially with the fan interest.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Gary - As we closer to training camp, of the teams that didn't make the playoffs in 2013, who are your top 5 teams to watch out for in 2014?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
Irregardless of whether they made the playoffs or not, these are some storylines I'm looking for: Cleveland will be interesting, because of the QB situation. I think Seattle is a great team to watch, because I believe their confidence and maturity level will keep them on top. Can the Cowboys defense step up? What happens in Arizona? I believe they have a chance to be a surprise team. And Houston will have a huge bounce back year. They weren't as bad as their record from a year ago. There are a lot of other storylines, but those are a few that really intrigue me.
Side l.a. cali [via mobile]
Will the rams be serious contenders in the nfc west? and will m sam make the team?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I don't think they can be contenders, because I think all three of the other teams are all ahead of them. But I think they can show major improvement and they are a team of the future. I love their youth and I think they have a lot of impact players. And it all comes down to Sam Bradford. Not just for him staying healthy, but in competing at a high level. I think they could be a surprise team, but I don't think that translates to making the playoffs. This is the best division in the NFL.
Who wins the NFC North?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I think it comes down to Chicago and Green Bay. Both teams semi mirror each other: they have great offenses that can put up a lot of points, but their question marks are all on defense. Can they score enough to overcome that side of the ball that will likely give up a lot of points? Aaron Rodgers gives the Packers a chance to win every Sunday, especially with the run game. But I have become a huge fan of this Chicago offense. I think they have only scratched the surface of how good they can be. They can only get better. With less mistakes and underachieving, I think Minnesota can get better. I think this is a two-team race with Detroit sort of making it interesting.
tyronePHILAPA [via mobile]
who's your pick for the super bowl this nfl season?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I probably pick a repeat of last year: Seattle and Denver. I think the 49ers will make it interesting for the Seahawks in the NFC, but I just don't see anybody beating them at home. I think Denver's trip to New England in the regular season will determine home field advantages. I know there are always teams that will rise up and challenge, but unless the Broncos and Seahawks surprisingly fade, I just don't see them losing games at home.
Anthony (Andover, MA)
Will the Panthers defense be OK as far as the pass rush goes if Hardy is suspended for any significant time?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
I think it's the best defensive front seven in football. People don't realize how well they also play the run. They have a very nice group of pass rushers. They just don't give up big plays. Not only are they good on the edge, but their inside pressure has a chance to be terrific.
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
It's nice to actually be able to talk some football with the players reporting to camp. We know the coaches are ecstatic to have these guys for the next six months and not have to worry about what's going on off the field. Every fan thinks their team is going to be better with a lot of hope. This is a glass is half full month, not half empty.
Buzzmaster (4:32 PM)
Thanks for chatting Gary!