NFL 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!
Nick (NY)What is the Bills biggest question marks on Offense and Defense this year??
Gary HortonI know they feel that they would like to have a better No. 2 receiver. Although I liked their 3 WR package last year, at least the first half of the season. There is still some work to do with the OL. They need to keep their RBs healthy. But this is a much improved team from a year ago. Some question marks in the secondary will be answered by a much better pass rush.
Jonathan: (Rogersville, TN) [via mobile]With the Saints missing defensive captain Vilma and head coach Sean Peyton, and The Panthers Cam Newton coming off of one of the best rookie seasons in History who do you think will win the NFC south?
Gary HortonI think the Saints will still be a good football team because of Drew Brees and the offense. But I do think they took a little step back. I believe, as you said, Carolina will be much improved, and Atlanta will be a good football team. Even Tampa Bay will be better than a year ago, but I don't think they'll be in the class of the other three. This looks to be a three-team race.
Stephen (Oklahoma)Did the Rams do enough in free agency and the draft to help Sam Bradford get that offense on track? And how much of the lethargy in that offense was Sam's fault?
Gary HortonI think the Rams will be better than they were a year ago, but I still think there is a lot of work to be done. I don't think they have a lot of depth and I don't think they have enough explosive playmakers. I'm concerned about their receiving corps and the passing game. I'm also concerned about the OL. Jeff Fisher will bring stability to the Rams, but in my opinion, they will need another offseason or two to become respectable enough to compete.
Alex (Anaheim)Who is your Super Bowl Champion as of now?
Gary HortonThe favorite in the NFC, I think you still have to like Green Bay a lot. I never discount the Giants. But I think the team to watch right now are the San Francisco 49ers. I just don't see any weaknesses on that roster. And they're playing in a pretty weak division. On the AFC side it looks like the same teams, the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens. I think the Steelers took a slight step back. But the team that I really like, probably, like San Francisco who hasn't been there is the Houston Texans. If I had to pick right now, Green Bay and New England and my darkhorses being San Francisco and Houston.
Collin (Dallas)Much has been made about some upcoming contract issues for the Texans... how would you prioritize these 3 upcoming free agents: Connor Barwin, Duane Brown, Matt Schaub?
Gary HortonWell, the most important one you try to keep is Matt Schaub. That's where I would look first. Obviously Barwin has become an excellent pass rusher. Front offices in today's NFL have to make tough decisions. I really like the youth and depth of this team. They're only going to get better.
Collin (Dallas)How do you decide during evaluations who is best suited to play end in a 4-3 or OLB in a 3-4? Who is the best prospect who you instantly knew was perfect to rush the passer in the 3-4?
Gary HortonYou have certain skill sets for each position on defense. The more film you watch the more you realize how a guy would fit. For example, a 4-3 DE is totally different than a 3-4 DE in terms of what they're asked to do and t play. That's why I have so much respect for the New England Patriots because Bill Belichick drafts players who have skill sets to play both schemes and to play inside or outside. That really gives him the ability to mix and match for a variety of fronts and schemes.
Collin (Dallas)You mentioned Devier Posey for the Texans as a potential break-out rookie WR in your recent column. I like his potential, but think he is a bit of a project and won't contribute until the 2nd half of the year at the earliest. Do the Texans need to sign a stop-gap veteran to help Andre and Kevin Walter?
Gary HortonNot necessarily, unless a guy became available. I think they would like for him to be the No. 2 guy and take some of the pressure away from Johnson. That means Walter can be the slot guy.
Gary HortonI think Houston will keep their eyes open on the waiver or trade wire.
Gary HortonYou may be right, it may take Posey a few weeks to develop.
Tyler (Kingston,WA)Hey Gary, love your work. How do you see the Colts D being in 3-5 years from now. I know right now it is considered a huge weak spot but under Pagano and the history he's had and his aggressive scheme, I think in time we will be a pretty consistent defense. Thanks!
Gary HortonI think there is no question that they'll get better but it's going to take a long time. Not only are they switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4 but it's going to be a much bigger scheme and not those undersized speed guys that's been successful for the Colts in the past. It's going to take at least a couple of seasons. The offense might be respectable quicker than the defese. Patience is going to be a huge requirement fo Colts fans in my opinion.
Jim (Memphis)Do you see Tim Tebow being the Jets starting QB anytime this season?
Gary HortonIt's hard to say. If he does start at some point, it means that Mark Sanchez has failed. I really think the Jets are set up for a QB controversy. You know the first bad game Sanchez has, the fans will be calling for Tebow. I do know that he's worked really hard to improve his game. He's such a competitor he wants to start, but I don't know how this plays out. The Wildcat type of play that fits him best doesn't make a lot of sense to me. But the Wildcat that they ran with Ronnie Brown, he stayed on the field at RB and switched to QB to create the element of surprise. Now, in this situation, you have to take Sanchez out to put Tebow in.
Darnell (ATL)That GB o-line scares me a lot. Any injuries to LT or C and that offense will not be the same. Is there any possible LTs out there for them?
Gary HortonYou're right from the standpoint that they need to stay healthy. But I like their young tackles. They're good developmental guy and could eventually be a strong duo. Jeff Saturday could be a calming influence because he's so smart and cool at making line calls. I probably like this OL more than some people do.
Al (Wausau, WI)Gary, I assume that we Vikings fans need to be patient with our team, just like the Colts fans?
Gary HortonI don't think there's any question that there are some tough days ahead for the Vikings. Not only do they have enough players, with depth being a factor, but I think there is more age on this team that people realize. The coaches believe in Christian Ponder, but AP's health is a question mark and I don't like the depth at WR. I just don't see enough game breaking players on defense. It has really surprised me at how quickly this team has gone down hill.
Collin (Dallas)Ben Tate was arguably the best backup RB in football last year, but, to me, his bruising style won't hold up for long as a "feature" back. If he produces again as a backup in 2012 would you sell-high on him in a trade?
Gary HortonI think he really fits their zone blocking, one cut and go scheme. I think in today's NFL, it's a real luxury to have two quality backs. I suppose it would depend on how much they were offered for Tate. But I would say this, if I were playing fantasy football this year, I would think about taking Foster and Tate. If I had Houston's entire run game, I would get a lot of points.
Travis (Jacksonville)Which teams have the worst overall talent? Any chance we could see 1 or 2 teams going winless or only winning 1-2 games?
Gary HortonThe teams that come to mind for me that will struggle the most are probably the Indianapolis Colts, the Minnesota Vikings, the Cleveland Browns, St. Louis Rams and maybe the Jacksonville Jaguars. All of these teams have a lot of rebuilding to do and I just don't know that they can be very competitive.
Gary HortonIf you're an NFL fan, this is a very exciting week, because training camps are starting. Everybody is optimistic and I think it's going to be a fantastic NFL season.
Rangers stay alive, drop B's on Kreider OT tally
Sources: Nets contacted Celtics about Rivers
Indians cruise in Francona's Fenway return
Pacers' Hibbert accuses Battier of 'dirty' play
Notre Dame paid Weis more than Kelly in 2011
Jays' Happ ready to start throwing outdoors
5-on-5: NBA draft's most overrated players
Sources: Mattingly wasn't critical of front office
LeBron Scoffs At Jordan's Scouting Report
LeBron James says Michael Jordan's scheme on how to defend him is incorrect
Rowdy Fan Throws Beverage At Orioles Outfielder
A spectator throws what looks to be a beer at an Orioles outfielder
Red Sox Pitcher Slaps His Teammate
Red Sox relief pitcher Koji Uehara slaps Shane Victorino