A week ago, it was easy to overlook the Los Angeles Rams final five games and start to look towards the 2023 NFL Draft and free agency. Then Baker Mayfield re-energized fans with a last second win and things went from unwatchable to, at least, bearable enough to keep attention.
Still, the draft and all its hopes and possibilities looms large on the horizon. Will it be a disappointing slate of prospects? And what position(s) will the Rams try to prop up with youth? Every fan has his favorites, you know, the guy who will step right in and make a difference. Even casual fans will peek at highlight reels and check out the inevitable parade of mock drafts.
This article is about none of the above. It’s about the guys that do it for real, the Rams personnel and scouting departments. Who they are, their roles, and a little about them. Not particularly exciting stuff, but a nice precursor to all the draft articles to come. Plus, how often does a staffer get to link a vintage TST article in his research?
Taylor Morton- Senior Personnel Advisor
Came to L.A. via St. Louis back in 2012, originally as college scouting director. Hired by then-incoming General Manger Les Snead, they had a long career together with the Atlanta Falcons. Has a long history of scouting, particularly in the southeast. Back in 2016, Morton was cited in the meltdown between Snead and then-coach Jeff Fisher for the Rams lack of offensive line development/talent.
Brian Xanders- Senior Personnel Executive
Assists with college scouting, pro personnel, research, and football systems. After his hire back in 2017, Snead said,
“[B]ack in the day, he was very instrumental in putting together new technologies for football and kind of on the cusp of analytics, so there are a lot of things Brian can bring to the table, projects we can give him, to help us execute our strategy.”
Before joining the Rams staff, Xanders logged 23 NFL seasons with the Atlanta Falcons (10 seasons with Snead), Denver Broncos, and Detroit Lions.
Ray Farmer- Senior Personnel Executive
Farmer’s NFL career began back in 2002, when hired by Les Snead to work in personnel for the Atlanta Falcons. He moved on to the Kansas City Chiefs for seven years, starting as a scout and culminating as Director of Pro Personnel. In 2013, he moved in as Assistant General Manager of the Cleveland Browns and was bumped up to the head spot a year later. His three seasons with the Brownies were filled with turmoil and ended with an NFL suspension and his being fired. He joined the Rams in 2017.
Chris Driggers- Personnel Executive
After nearly 30 years with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Driggers was lost in the Urban Meyer purge in 2021. Over his tenure, he toiled in both the scouting and personnel departments and had been the Jags Director of Pro Personnel since 2015. The Rams hired him before the 2022 season.
James Gladstone- Director of Scouting Strategy
In his own words, Gladstone lays out his duties with L.A. ,
“I handle the day-to-day scouting and football operations of the team, evaluate current and prospective players, and act as the liaison between the scouting department and the organization.”
He joined the Rams after the 2016 draft and has not yet been able to strategize a first round pick, but he has adjusted to Snead’s unique draft style,
“We have a scouting department who is certainly accustomed and comfortable with the circumstances and embraces both an unflinching and agile mindset. And we’re picking through rounds three, four, five, six and seven. What you’re able to do is spread yourself a little bit deeper into the draft that allows us the luxury of focusing on really sound football players at those spots.”
Nicole Blake- Scouting Strategy Analyst
Blake works closely with the area scouts to give Gladstone the best possible player reports and opinions. She was hired in 2020 after spending two years working with NFL offices, with experience in business strategy & operations.
J.W. Jordan- Director of Draft Management
Jordan works as the liaison between the scouting and personnel staffs and Les Snead.
John McKay- Assistant Director of Pro Scouting
McKay spends the lion’s share of his time scouting players on active rosters, practice squads and street free agents, searching for fits into the Rams needs. In the draft season he helps out assessing college players and preparing reports for Les Snead on opposing teams needs to anticipate draft moves they might make and how navigate them. He joined the Rams in 2014.
Ted Monago- Assistant Director of College Scouting
He brought 18 years of coaching and scouting experience to St.Louis in 2013. After a few seasons as a graduate assistant at Idaho and Arizona State, Monago moved to William & Mary and had a hand in tight ends, linebackers and recruiting. He moved on to the Chicago Bears for 12 years, scouting the SEC and upper midwest. He is a yearly overseer of the defensive backs at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Marty Barrett- National Scout
Hired by L.A. in 2017. Long time scout with the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles. Past work done primarily on the West Coast. With the Rams he works as a cross-checker all across the board.
Matt Waugh- Pro Scout
Worked his way through various football internships, snagging one with the Rams in 2017 and moved up through the ranks to scouting NFL rosters and practice squads. Not only for players that fits Rams needs but who opposing teams might be looking at.
Vito Gonella- West Coast Area Scout
Began as a student assistant at Arizona State and came to L.A. in 2017. Ex-Rams Director of College Scouting Brad Holmes credits him for evaluating Penei Sewell’s 2019 season and putting him at the top of the draft wish list. Holmes would eventually take Sewell at #7 overall in 2021.
Brian Hill- Midwest Area Scout
Hill began as a scouting assistant for the Rams in 2014, was promoted to scout for the West Coast and now covers the Midwest. Before being hired by L.A., he served internships with the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs.
Watch Rams scout “B Hill” jump into the #RamsHouse pool… after stating “if Logan Bruce gets drafted at 104, I’m jumping in the pool.” He did not think he would be available that late in the draft. pic.twitter.com/iCbeV4xOTk— Sarina (@sarina) April 30, 2022
Billy Johnson- Southeast Area Scout (Western)
Alabama, Tennesse, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi are his main areas. But he also attends Combines and Pro Days, not only to scout players, but opposing team agents who are there and which players they are looking at.
“It’s a little bit of a spy game, but everyone’s doing it,” Johnson says, chuckling.
Michael Pierce- Southeast Area Scout (Eastern)
Responsible for covering Florida, Georgia and the Carolina’s. Pierce joined St.Louis in 2015 and covered the Midwest and did cross-check work in the 2016 and 17 drafts. Before coming to the Rams, he worked as a scouting assistant for the Reese’e Senior Bowl game and interned with NFL Films.
Chance Trickett- Mountain Area Scout
After stints at Florida State as a recruiter, and Louisiana Tech as Director of Recruiting, Trickett moved to L.A. in 2016. He started as a scout in the Northeast area and is now tasked with Colorado, Wyoming, Minnesota, the Dakotas, and parts of Missouri.
Cedric Jones- Auxiliary Scout
A former first round draft pick, he spent five seasons in the NFL. Jones signed with the Rams in 2001, but tore up a knee and never played in St. Louis. He spent a year as defensive line coach with the Carolina Panthers and 10 years with Southern Nazarene University as offensive/defensive line coach.
Ryon Lynn- Scouting Assistant
Previous stops at Alabama and with the Las Vegas Raiders.
Lawrence McCutcheon- Scouting Consultant
After a stellar five year run with L.A. as a player, making the Pro Bowl from 1973 through 1977, McCutcheon joined the personnel department in 1982. He spent over 40 years in the Rams organization and still consults although he retired in 2016.