SCOUTING DICTIONARY

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Anchor
A ship’s anchor is used to stop it drifting away, and to keep it in one fixed place. Anchor in this sense is fairly similar. How good is a player at holding his ground, and not being pushed back. This generally applies to offensive and defensive linemen.

Active Hands
Can refer to a number of positions, on offense and defense. In simple, how much does a player use his hands? A linebacker can be seen to have to have active hands if he can get himself off blocks using hand fighting to make a play.
Backpedal
The way a defensive player runs backwards, which is especially useful in zone coverage, and on plays which could be a run or a pass. Backpedalling allows the defensive player to keep his eyes on the backfield, as well as receivers, so he can watch how the play happens and react to it.

Ball Hawk
A defender who has the awareness and physical ability to make plays on the ball. A ball hawk will generally record a high number of passes defended and interceptions.

Ball Skills
You’ll hear this term mainly in regards to defensive players, as offensive skill positions players should already have it. It refers to a player who can react to, and make plays on, the ball. Interceptions and passes defended are pretty good indicators of ball skills.

Bend
Mainly a term reserved for edge rushers. When a defender comes round the outside edge of his blocker, he needs to be able to make a beeline for the quarterback. Bend refers to how the body of a player ‘bends’ to accomplish this. This requires flexible ankles and great balance.

Biting Up
When a defender in zone coverage expects a run on a play, especially the case on play-action, and either hesitates in his coverage, or in fact moves towards the ball carrier. Even the slightest hint of this can leave a receiver open.

Body Catcher
A generally negative term for receivers who try to avoid catching passes away from their body at all costs. They are relying on good throws and / or good body positioning to be able to make the play.

Bull Rush
A defensive rush move. The defender will slam his hands into the chest of the blocker, extend his arms fully, and drive his legs to push his blocker backwards. This is the most common rush move there is.
Catch Radius
This refers to a combination of height, wingspan, and jumping ability. If a player is at position ‘X’ when the ball is getting to him, how far can he reach to possibly (note this is not the same as ‘probably’) catch the football.

Center Fielder
This refers to the deep safety who has the range to be able to cover a large area.

Click-and-Close
The ability of a defender to transition from one direction to another, in order to get to the ballcarrier. For example, a cornerback in a backpedal might have to suddenly run forward after the QB throws a screen pass.

Club Move
This is a pass rush move whereby the defender starts by driving his blocker back. He then forces the blocker outside, either by a punch to the outside arm of the blocker, or a yank. The defender then rips his arm past the body of the blocker and continues to the QB.

Combination Block
When more than one offensive player blocks a defensive player. Can also be called a ‘double-block’.

Cut Block
A block by an offensive player below the knees of a defensive player. Also referred to as a ‘chop block’. This is a controversial tactic which is illegal on passing and kicking plays.
Dime
A defense which contains six defensive backs. A ‘dimeback’ is the sixth defensive back.

Disengage
The defender is ‘engaged’ when on a block. To disengage means simply to get off that block.

Dirty Nose
Refers to a defensive back getting involved in the dirty work. Whether that means running into congestion to make a tackle, or pushing piles, a defender who doesn't mind getting his nose dirty will be preferred by coaches and scouts to those who want to hold back.

Double Covered
This occurs when two defenders are assigned one offensive player. In general, this will involve a cornerback taking the receiver, and a safety over the top to protect against the long ball.

Downhill Runner
Refers to a running back who attacks the line of scrimmage, largely synonymous with a North-West runner. They are generally powerful and don’t mind running through contact.
East-West Runner
As opposed to a North-South runner, an East-West runner tends to move more laterally, and aim for the outside. These are generally quicker and faster runners who can make guys miss.

Explosive
This can refer to a number of positions, and can mean a number of different things. In terms of defensive linemen for example, it means the ability to get off the snap quickly and convert speed to power.
False Steps
False steps are just as they sound, wasted movement. In reference to defenders, an instinctive defender will read-and -react, whereas other defenders, who tend to be more athletic, can move without thinking, and then rely on their athletic ability to get them into position. They will struggle to do that in the NFL.

Flashes
Inconsistent, but there is ability there. Even if you only see a couple of really good plays from someone during a film session, that player flashes.

Fluid Hips
Fluid hips refers to pretty much every position on both sides of the ball, and it involves how quickly a player can change direction at speed.

Forward Lean
This is a good thing, especially for running backs. Forward lean allows runners to be able to put their weight into tacklers, and also allows a player to fall forward when tackled, and potentially add a yard or two to the end of the play.
Grab Move
A pass rush move whereby (usually) an edge rusher hits the inside arm of his blocker, getting him off balance, and then rips through to get to the QB.

Gunner
A position on special teams. The ‘gunner’ is the outside man on special team’s coverage units.

Gunslinger
Refers to the QB position. A Gunslinger is a risk taker, who is willing to throw the ball into coverage and tight windows. He usually has good arm strength, and trusts his receivers to make plays.
Hands Catcher
This is a positive term. Hands catching means a player can catch the ball away from his body. This requires technique to locate the ball, bring his hands together, then move the hands in sync to the ball, and watch the ball into the hands.

Highpointing
This is a crucial attribute for a wide receiver. A player cannot just expect to be open every play and have his quarterback rifle the pass into his body. Sometimes a receiver needs to ‘go up and get it’. Highpointing is the ability to time a leap so as to reach maximum height when the ball arrives.
More terms coming soon.
More terms coming soon.
Kick-Slide
An offensive tackle must be able to get outside to meet a rusher. To do this, he will lift his lift his outside foot and ‘kick’, or extend it out quickly, to reach a depth at which he can square up to the edge rusher. In order to make it in the NFL, an offensive tackle must have a refined kick slide.
Length
A shortened way of saying 'arm length'. Simple as that.

Locates the Ball
Refers to how a player (especially defensive backs) sees the ball while it’s in flight. Good CBs turn their head when the receiver does, so that he can locate where the ball is in the air, and potentially make a play on it.
Mirror
Also known as ‘to shadow’. I usually this term in relation to offensive linemen, and how they move in accordance to where the defender moves so as not to let them get past.

Motor
Pretty synonymous with what they call ‘work rate’ in soccer. How fit, and how intense a player plays. For example, will a defensive tackle chase down runners all the way across the field if he has to, or will he give up as soon as the play leaves the pocket?
Nickel
Quite simply, a defense which contains five defensive backs. The ‘nickelback’ is the fifth defensive back on the play.

North-South Runner
A running back who will generally look to go between the tackles, as opposed to the more lateral movement of an East-West Runner.
More terms coming soon.
Pad Level
The angle of a player’s body (or pads). Forward lean is an example of good pad level in running backs, for example.

Plug-and-Play
Any prospect who looks pro ready. He should have a polished technique, and be gifted enough physically that he seems like he would be a Day 1 starter in the NFL.

Progression Reads
Refers to the QB. The player the QB looks to first is the first read, second is the second read, and so on and so forth. Can a QB progress through his reads? The rate at which Aaron Rodgers goes through his reads is one of the many reasons why he’s a top QB in the NFL.

Project
A player who isn’t as ready as his peers to play in the NFL, but may possess something to convince a team he deserves a shot. Maybe he has great size, or great speed.

Punch
This is how a lineman uses his hands to hit the opposing player back. Either to get him off balance, or just push him back.
More terms coming soon.
Rip Move
A pass rush move whereby a defender points his shoulder into the blocker, and then lifts (or rips) with the arm of that shoulder underneath the blockers arm.

Road-Grader
An offensive blocker who powers through opponents in the run game. The player will generally have great lower body strength, and possibly an aggressive nature in-game.
Seeing Ghosts
A quarterback has to be brave in the pocket. He must only think of his own game. Seeing ghosts occurs when a quarterback gets concerned that defenders are bearing down on him, even when they’re not. This is when a quarterback seems to get nervous in the pocket. It occurs when he has a lack of pocket awareness and gets nervous that he doesn’t know what is coming.

Separation
The gap which opens up between a receiver and the person who is trying to cover him. Receivers will always get better separation in college than the NFL, so a key requirement is to watch for how late they get separation. Getting open when the ball is thrown is an extremely valuable attribute.

Shade
Refers to a defensive lineman who lines up on the shoulder of an offensive lineman, as opposed immediately opposite him. This refers mainly to one-gap systems.

Soft Hands
This is to do with pass catching. Does the ball nestle into the gloves of a player, or is there more of a ‘thud’ sound. In order to have soft hands, a player’s technique must be good. Both hands must meet, and then move towards the ball in a synchronised fashion.

Speed Rush
A pass rush move whereby an edge rusher explodes off the line and tries to beat his blocker round the edge. Since a rusher rarely beats his man just using speed alone however, it usually involves speeding upfield and then using a bull rush while the blocker is off balance after being forced to move outside so quickly.

Spin Move
This can be used in many different positions, and it is what it sounds like. Whether it’s Tony Romo spinning away from JJ Watt and throwing a long touchdown, or a defensive lineman spinning away from his blocker to make a play, or maybe a receiver spinning after catching the football to get away from a tackle.

Stares Down His Reads
Occurs when a QB makes it obvious as to who he will throw to. Usually, his eyes stay on his first read in hope that he can get open, and it comes from a lack of field awareness.

Strong Jam
The initial hit to a receiver that a cornerback imposes on a receiver in press coverage. The cornerback is looking to slightly re-route the receiver to get him to lose timing with the QB.

Swim Move
A pass rush move which can be either an inside or outside move. It involves a pass rusher using his outside arm on the blockers outside arm, or the inside arm on the blockers inside arm, to swat away his blocker to either side.
Two-Gap
Generally synonymous with the 3-4 defensive system, but not exclusively. Whereas a One-Gap defensive lineman only has to defend ‘one gap’, a Two-Gap lineman has two gaps. For example, a nose tackle who lines up directly over the center has to defend both A-Gaps.
Under-Tackle
Same as a 3-Technique Defensive Tackle. Lines up on the outside shade of the guard.

Unicorn-Safety
This refers to a deep safety who can cover and tackle at a high standard, and has the accompanying physical attributes. Earl Thomas of the Seahawks can be considered a ‘Unicorn’.
More terms coming soon.
Walked Back
This occurs when a player on offense gets pushed back by a defender.

Window
The area between two defenders on a pass play, in which a receiver is between them. A tight window is where the defenders are pretty close together, whilst an open window is where they are spaced apart somewhat allowing for a catchable opportunity.
More terms coming soon.
More terms coming soon.
More terms coming soon.

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