Panthers hire Gregory as college scouting director

Updated: June 30, 2006, 10:28 AM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Twenty-year veteran talent evaluator Don Gregory, who spent the past five seasons as a national scout for the Kansas City Chiefs, was named Thursday as the Carolina Panthers' new director of college scouting. He replaces Tony Softli, who departed the Panthers last week to become vice president of player personnel for the St. Louis Rams.

"Don is a very experienced and talented evaluator who will fit perfectly within our organization," said Panthers general manager Marty Hurney in a statement released by the team. "He will be a great addition to what we feel is an extremely talented college scouting department."

The timing of the announcement was not surprising, since the consensus around the league was that Hurney would move quickly to replace Softli, who had been the Panthers' college scouting director since 2000. The addition of Gregory was a mild upset, however, since many in the league felt the successor to Softli would come from an in-house promotion.

No one can argue, though, with Gregory's résumé, and the veteran scout has a strong reputation for being organized and thorough. It is not known how many candidates were interviewed for the position, but it is believed that Hurney worked off a relatively short list.

A college linebacker who played six seasons of semi-pro football, Gregory began scouting in 1986 in the CFL. He also worked in the NFL Europe League, and with National Football Scouting, Inc., one of the two combine services that provide reports to subscriber franchises, before joining the San Diego personnel staff in 1995.

It was with the Chargers, where he worked for general manager Bobby Beathard, that Gregory first met Hurney, who was also in the San Diego personnel department.

After four seasons with the Chargers, he worked in the XFL for the league's only year of existence, and then joined the Kansas City scouting staff in 2001. Gregory will oversee the team's scouting efforts for the draft and, if he assumes some of Softli's duties, could also help prepare the Panthers for free agency.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.