Former Carolina Exec Weighs in on Smith

Steve Smith Stiff Arm

To Tony Softli, Steve Smith was a difference-maker at wide receiver 13 years ago. And to Softli, Smith is still a difference-maker even more than a decade later.

Softli was the Carolina Panthers’ director of college scouting when the Panthers selected Smith in the third round of the 2001 NFL draft.

Softli left Carolina in 2006, but he has kept up with Smith while serving as the St. Louis Rams’ vice president of player personnel and more recently as an NFL analyst for 101 ESPN in St. Louis.

He watched Smith play as recently as last season. And while Smith will be 35 in May, Softli thinks Smith can still impact football games, especially for a team like the Baltimore Ravens.

One of the Ravens’ top priorities coming into the offseason was to add a pass-catcher that can consistently make tough catches in critical situations. They feel like addressed that by signing Smith last week. Softli agrees.

“No question,” Softli said. “You’re talking about third-and-5, third-and-6, third-and-7, that’s what type of receiver he is. … The one thing you’re going to be able to see is that he’s going to compete at a high level above the [defensive backs].

“He can still go up and get it. And I think that’s really one of the reasons that they went and got him, plus what he does away from the football and what he does blocking-wise. He’s a complete football player, a complete wide receiver. It’s still fun to watch him from afar.”

Smith’s numbers were down last season, but he did still lead Panthers wide receivers in both catches (64) and yards (745).

He was also selected to the Pro Bowl as recently as 2011 and had 73 catches for 1,174 yards in 2012 while averaging more than 16 yards per catch.

“I think he’s lost a step, and that just comes with age. That’s just a natural progression as you get older. A guy can get a little slower. … [But] I wouldn’t say it’s significant,” Softli said. “I would just say that he’s got that sneaky speed now, whereas before he would just run right by you.

 

More from Softli on Smith here…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

 

Hot off the street

BOLD PREDICTIONS: Ravens at Steelers

This game will follow the script of the Ravens 3 previous losses, in that the Ravens offense will start slow and get themselves in an early hole. They will again play much better in the 2nd half, and ...read more

Through 8 Games, Wagner Proving Ravens Right

The Ravens may be sitting at 5-3 and in second place in the division at the moment, but my how times have changed along the offensive line - especially at the right tackle position. Many fans and m...read more

RAVENS LINKS: Can Flacco Silence Pittsburgh Again?

Can Joe Flacco silence Heinz Field again? Joe Cool has enjoyed some success in Pittsburgh with late game heroics. Jamison Hensley gives us Joe's opinion on going in to Heinz Field and playing the h...read more

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Ravens Sweep Steelers

The Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Perhaps there’s mutual respect but there’s certainly mutual disdain. The Ravens head to Pittsburgh this week, week 9 of the NFL season just ...read more

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens at Steelers

Offense 1. Flip the Script Last Sunday, the Steelers were able to beat the Colts at their own game by winning the time of possession battle. They controlled the clock for close to 40 minutes, near...read more

View More