Tony Softli: Wordsmith, Pt. II

If you aren't thankful that Tony Softli exists, you need to reexamine some things.

A little more than a year and a half ago, Tony Softli, friend of TST and multi-talented footballwalrusman, penned what I considered his magnum opus.

It was everything I never knew something could be, containing perhaps my favorite writing of the 2012 calendar year:

Midway through practice running back Steven Jackson caught a dump pass over the middle and meet linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who delivered a kiss of the pads, and with a loud pop Jackson hit the ground fumbling the ball. The collision drew a big "whoooo" from the crowd.

We have a new effort, though, one that threatens the status of his great works today. Consider the title: Rams Hold All the Cards at No. 2. It's not even factually true since the Texans "hold all the cards" with the first overall pick. What's great about Softli's grasp of the written word is that things start low. Waaaaaay low. And find a way to keep carving out new ground of no.

More than two years later, the Robert Griffin III trade is still paying dividends for the St. Louis Rams. And on May 8, the entire country will find out why.

Softli has this uncanny ability to make a point and then completely undermine the logic required to maintain the validity of that point. ON MAY 8, THE ENTIRE COUNTRY WILL FIND OUT THE RAMS HAVE WASHINGTON'S FIRST ROUND PICK. SURPRISE.

That’s the date when the Rams will capitalize on the last real piece of the treasure that they pilfered from franchise quarterback-hungry Washington back in 2012: the second overall pick in this year’s draft. Interest in said spot continues to grow daily, as teams across the NFL identify get in touch with their "needs" and "wants."

Ooh, that second sentence is a gem. Somehow, "get in touch with" avoided the cutting room floor (note: there is no cutting room floor).

The value of all selections depends on the talent within the draft itself – and it is especially plentiful this year. Primarily underclassmen seem poised to take center stage early. With 102 of them declaring for the 2014 festivities, there is scarce room for seniors in the first two rounds.

Softli's the best at shallow aphorisms. Who's valuating "all selections"? And the lack of useful analysis in what could have been a notable point regarding declared underclassmen is undone by the logical diarrhea of that third sentence. ALL 102 UNDERCLASSMEN ARE GOING IN THE FIRST TWO ROUNDS EVEN THOUGH THERE AREN'T 102 PICKS AND IF THAT'S NOT TRUE THAT MEANS THE WHOLE POINT IS MISCONSTRUCTED MOVING ON TO SOMETHING OTHER THAN LOGIC LET'S DO MATH MATH IS EASY

Invariably, whatever the Houston Texans do with the top pick will start a feeding frenzy among the next six teams: St. Louis, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland and Atlanta.

Did one of you guys tell Softli he couldn't count with his fingers? Six is not a large number.

Even if the Texans opt for a trade, the Rams still hold the golden nugget that could incite other clubs to leapfrog one another, drop back or (uncomfortably) sit and wait in the top 10.

The Rams hold the golden nugget that could incite clubs to exercise their only available option. I have some plastic forks in my office which could incite you to eat roast duck tonight or not. +1 for suggesting sitting in a given spot is uncomfortable but trading down and waiting even more whatever. Let's leapfrog that one.

There are more questions to be answered, too.


Which of the players asked to visit New York will slide into "green room" hell, waiting to get picked?

That's not one of them, but ok.

Who will be the surprise selections early in the first round?

Sure, I'll bite.

Countless scenarios will present themselves – and change – between now and that second weekend in May. For now, let’s take a look at what squads could affect the Rams’ way of thinking at No. 2.

Welp, no time for those questions! Back to the central promise after a ouroburos that we certainly didn't need.

Houston – While none of the current members of the front office or coaching staff were present for the organization’s inaugural draft in 2002...

This is another Softli device we see often. Starting a sentence with something that can be translated to "What I'm about to say has absolutely no relevance on the major topic but it's something I am able to say and I guess I'm therefore going to just say it."

...owner Bob McNair doesn’t want history to repeat itself. The Texans held the No. 1 overall pick and went for need, passing on the best football player/athlete in the draft in North Carolina defensive end Julius Pepper and choosing Fresno State quarterback David Carr.

Peppers, now with Green Bay Packers, continues to have a stellar career. The list of accomplishments is long, and growing: NFL defensive rookie of the year, eight-time Pro Bowler, three-time All Pro, NFC defensive player of the year, 100-plus sacks and member of the 2000s all-decade team.

On the other hand, Carr’s efforts were derailed early. He absorbed a league-record 76 sacks in his rookie season before rallying to lead the NFL in completion percentage in 2006 and eventually throwing for 14,000-plus yards. While he slowly came to be known as a journeyman, he also earned a ring as Eli Manning’s backup on the GiantsSuper Bowl-winning team of 2011.

That's a whole lot of context. Wrap this one up with a bow for me, will ya?

So, what will the Texans decide this time around? Is it best available or another draft-for-need situation? I feel that first-year coach Bill O’Brien will take a page from his time with Bill Belichick and draft defense, targeting a quarterback who fits their scheme somewhere later in the draft.

So instead of presenting a cogent analysis of why Jadaveon Clowney is the outright best available player in the draft over, say, Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles or maybe one of those 102 underclassmen prospects who are all getting square-peg-into-round-pegged into the first two rounds, we're just gonna assume Clowney's the best (because DE?) and insert QB here and no other prospects would be a draft for need situation. Any actual context needed here? I mean, I know you're not gonna just categorize them like that and list their names at this point since we already understand that's what you're suggesting.

Best Available Player: DE Jadevon Clowney, South Carolina

Draft for Need: QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida; QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M; QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville.

Alright. Never mind. What's the next team that "could affect the Rams’ way of thinking at No. 2"?

The Rams are sitting in the catbird seat, and the 30 other clubs know it.

Wait, where are you goi--

If Houston takes a quarterback first overall, the Rams have an extraordinary opportunity to draft the best player in the draft. Clowney, would fit in perfectly with Chris Long, Robert Quinn and William Hayes, forming an unstoppable edge-rushing quartet in the NFC West.

St. Louis has absolutely no interest in snatching a quarterback at this stage – if at all, after signing veteran Shaun Hill last month.

Right, but the teams...the ones affecting the Rams...

At least two of the top six teams, however, can’t say the same. The Cleveland Browns (fourth) and Minnesota Vikings (eighth) need signal-callers badly.

I blame myself. I should've mentioned the "no math" clause here as the Vikings, picking eighth, aren't really in the top six teams because number. And somehow, Jacksonville and Oakland now have Hall of Famers at quarterback I guess. I'm getting tired. Let's just get through this together in one piece.

Meanwhile, the Jacksonville Jaguars (third) have a defensive-minded head coach. If they can’t trade up for Clowney, one could see them reach for Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack. Personally, I didn’t like the fact that he failed to dominate several lower-level opponents like Stoney Brook. He’d perform like a top-three pick against a program such as Ohio State, only to disappear in the Bulls’ bowl game. Still, Jacksonville is liable to overlook some of the peaks and valleys, settling on an aggressive defense and run-oriented offensive attack that can allow quarterback Chad Henne to manage the game in the interim.

As for the Oakland Raiders (fifth), they need an offensive tackle – but could take a QB as well. The Atlanta Falcons (sixth) have huge interest in Clowney and are in dire need of a guy to apply pressure on offenses in the NFC South. Rest assured that if Houston takes a signal-caller, the Falcons will have the Rams’ brass on speed dial. Even so, Atlanta has the farthest to climb among the top six in order to obtain Clowney’s services. How many picks are they willing to sacrifice this year – and in 2015?

Whoa. What the hell was that? That was relevant, thoughtful and well said. Have we turned a corner?

Due to the sheer depth available in this year’s draft, it all boils down to acquiring as many picks as possible to make your team better now.

Nope. Maybe you didn't hear, but the Super Bowl is now given to the team with the highest total number of draft picks. Which players get picked doesn't matter. It's all about just getting as many picks as possible. Like a player at number two? Screw you. Trade down. Like where you're at at 6 after swapping with Atlanta? Keep going, farmboy. Stocked up with half a dozen second rounders after trading down four times? The fourth round's ripe for the picking.

The Rams’ worst-case scenario is still pretty darned good. If they miss out on the Clowney sweepstakes, the teams below them know their need for a QB early is minimal. If the Rams’ asking price in the two-hole proves too high, teams may be inclined to cut a deal with Jacksonville at No. 3. Regardless, sitting and picking won’t ruin a sure-to-be fruitful 2014 haul.

Quantity≠quality, but I guess that's a leap too far for today. Just limit the updates on the Rams' two hole and for God's sake no live stream please.

2 >> Take Clowney if available at No. 2

What is this, an NFL Draft programming language? IF football THEN draft.

2 Dn If Clowney goes No. 1, trade out – but don’t go past Atlanta at No. 6. At least two of the three quarterbacks will be selected early. If the Rams move down past eight, these are the other players at whom they could be staring:

I'm just confused. Don't go past six. Here are players past eight. Also, you pick 13th. Softli's just playing number checkers.

2Up This is not a smart move. Besides, head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead love to collect picks.

What's not? Trading up to #1 overall? Where the hell did that come from? What is 2Up? 7Up is a drink. 1Up is a mushroom that gives you an extra life. And if it's not wise and it's not plausible, why are we even doing this?

The Rams’ brass continues to make it loud and clear, through all avenues of the media, that they want out of the second pick in the draft and will listen to all offers.

You were just talking about trading up to number one. Tony, I'm tired. I'm dehydrated. I can't do this much longer. You started us on a journey about the value of the second overall pick. Then we went into which teams will affect the Rams at two and how. Can you just drop an incredibly vague, poorly clarified generality on a third entirely separate point and call this a day?

After all, the 2014 NFL draft promises the most talent-laden class that I’ve seen in over a decade.


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