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  1. #1
    Bruce=GOAT's Avatar
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    Rams' new top talent evaluator gets to work

    Sports > Rams > Story
    Rams' new top talent evaluator gets to work
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    01/12/2007

    Who will be in the huddle next season?
    (Chris Lee/P-D)

    For those who make their living in NFL personnel, it's that time of year.

    "This is it," Tony Softli said. "This is what I do. This is what I love."

    Softli was hired last summer as the Rams' vice president of player personnel, replacing Charley Armey as the team's top talent evaluator. There are two "Super Bowls" in the NFL personnel business the start of free agency (March 2) and the NFL draft (April 28-20). Softli is knee-deep in both pursuits.

    Names of dozens of prospective free agents are on the "sticker" boards that line the walls of his Rams Park office. On Thursday, he was watching tape of the Auburn Tigers when a reporter dropped in for an interview.
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    "What we're trying to do here is build a championship base, a foundation," Softli said. "And it's going to start with this draft. This draft and this free agency period are going to push us forward. ... I think Coach (Scott Linehan) did an outstanding job to push, to keep these players together when we had the losing streak. To keep these guys focused and finishing strong with a chance to get in the playoffs."

    But now that the season's over. ...

    "It's like a tag team," Softli said. " 'Tag, you're it. Let's go get some players to make us better.' "

    Softli's first official day on the job was Aug. 1. He has kept a low profile since then, in part because he wasn't around much during the college season. From late August until early December, Softli was gone nearly every week.

    "It's a short window," he said. "You have a certain amount of time where you see the top players in college football, and so you've got to take advantage of that."

    Over the course of the season, Softli said he visited 35-40 college campuses on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Softli arrived as early as 6 a.m. at some schools.
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    "Then you start watching as much film as you can," he said.

    Softli calls film "a player's DNA." If he wants to know if a corner can play press coverage, or if a back can pick up blitzes, the film tells all. But what about a player's work habits? Does he play through injury? Is he coachable? Does he get along with teammates? Is he grumpy in the morning?"

    Softli gets answers to those questions and others by talking to everybody he can on campus coaches, athletic trainers, strength coaches, secretaries. Watching practice reveals a lot as well.

    "I'll trick 'em," Softli said. "I'll stand in front of them and watch, so they can see me. Because they know who you are. Then, I'll go on the other side of the field and look from afar."

    Does the player tone it down once he thinks the scout has left? Or does he just have one speed?

    Softli also tries to watch as many college games in person as possible.

    "You go down on the field before games and you get to see that fevered pitch," Softli said. "You get that attitude, that mind-set, before a game. To me that's really important because that's what's going to come to our team."

    No matter what college game Softli watched on Saturday, he tried to position himself to watch the Rams on Sunday, whether they were playing at home or on the road.

    "Like when we're playing at Green Bay," Softli said. "I went and watched a Wisconsin game, then drove up to Green Bay, watched our game and flew back with the team."

    In terms of college scouting, Softli wants to personally scout the top 150 players in the draft each fall.

    "Which takes us through almost five rounds of the draft," he said.

    Obviously, it's a moving target, with players added and dropped from the list as the season progresses, right up to the time that sophomores and juniors are added to the draft pool.

    A starting list of 12,000 names is trimmed to about 1,000 draft prospects, which the Rams' scouting staff tries to see during the college season. "And then we'll whittle that down to about 330 for the draft," Softli said.

    While all this is going on, Softli has been evaluating potential free agents with Armey and former Rams player Ray Agnew. Before the NFL scouting combine in February, Softli will present a list of the top five prospective free agents at each position to Linehan, president of football operations Jay Zygmunt and the coaching staff. Linehan's staff will come in with its thoughts on potential free agents, and they'll have a meeting of the minds.

    "This is our first year," Softli said. "(Linehan's) feeling me out, and I'm feeling him out. What he needs and what he wants. It's all out on the table now. It's a matter of just putting it all together, working together and moving forward."


  2. #2
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    Re: Rams' new top talent evaluator gets to work

    Scouting for new players would be a fun job. Trying to find the little details that make or break a player would be a challenge.

    It should be interesting to see how Softli does this year. He has a lot of data to sort through to get his top 330.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Rams' new top talent evaluator gets to work

    I got a good feeling about Softli. It would appear he did a fine job in Carolina, and this is the most press I've seen on our personnel department (except of course, our lack of a personnel dept. earlier).

    This may be an exciting offseason with a much different feel than the past few years.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  4. #4
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    Re: Rams' new top talent evaluator gets to work

    He has to be an improvement over Charley Armey..:l

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    Re: Rams' new top talent evaluator gets to work

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    I got a good feeling about Softli. It would appear he did a fine job in Carolina, and this is the most press I've seen on our personnel department (except of course, our lack of a personnel dept. earlier).

    This may be an exciting offseason with a much different feel than the past few years.
    Walk Softli but carry a big stick?

  6. #6
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    Re: Rams' new top talent evaluator gets to work

    Call me wierd but I'm excited to see what Stofi can do to the talent level on this team.
    RamsFan16

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    Re: Rams' new top talent evaluator gets to work

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    Walk Softli but carry a big stick?
    ---rimshot--- But seriously, folks...is this thing on?
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  8. #8
    RamOfDenmark is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams' new top talent evaluator gets to work

    I've got a good feeling too. His credentials look good, the Panthers have enjoyed some pretty solid personnel while he's been there. I suspect we'll see an improvement in the quality of players we get out of the draft this year.

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    Re: Rams' new top talent evaluator gets to work

    Quote Originally Posted by 81~BIG-GAME View Post
    He has to be an improvement over Charley Armey..:l
    Correct me f I'm wrong but wasn't Charley Armey the guy that built our 2 Superbowl teams?:x

  10. #10
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    Re: Rams' new top talent evaluator gets to work

    and he also drafted Trung Canidate

  11. #11
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    Re: Rams' new top talent evaluator gets to work

    I hoep that he gets out that jeweler's eyepiece and finds some diamonds in the rough...
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    SJax, a developing quarterbacks best friend...

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