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NFL Draft Scouting Lingo: What Do Those Phrases Mean?

In collecting story links for today's Fleur-De-Links, I came across an interesting piece on the MSN Fox Sports NFL page. In it, Adam Caplan breaks down some of the specific and sometimes colorful scouting phrases that are thrown around in the ongoing player evaluation and NFL draft processes.

Given that we are in the thick of these processes in the weeks running up to the draft on April 28, I thought it'd be fun to highlight some of the phrases explained in the article, connect to some previous draft discussion threads from CSC dealing with "best player available" and "drafting for need", and then dig into a discussion of these phrases, as only the CSC faithful can shovel it.

Make the jump to see some of the examples, and then channel your inner Mike Mayock, Mel Kiper, Jr., Todd McShay, Walter Cherepinski, or whomever you worship, to join in the discussion thread.

And don't forget to check back later for the Fleur-De-Links linkage.

Mr. Caplan organizes the terminology into three main sections: offense (further subdivided into positions), defense, and generic.

Here are some of his choice terms...


"Throws in a phone booth." - Quarterbacks who do this look like they are too tight throwing the ball and have a hard time uncoiling.

"Upright" - A back such as this one runs too high, which makes him susceptible to getting hit too much. These backs generally have a higher rate of fumbling.

"Straight-line speed" - You'll often hear draft analysts talk about wide receivers having built-up or straight-line speed, meaning they aren't truly fast. They can run fast in a straight line, but don't have good short-area quickness.

"Good punch" - Good arm punch refers to offensive lineman who extend their arms out and literally punch their hands into a defensive lineman's chest to push him back. Getting the first punch in at the snap is a huge advantage against oncoming rushers.


"Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane." - I've often heard defensive players framed by this term. It refers to a player who looks good in uniform or physically, but basically can't play, or is raw.

"Cuts through the wash or the trash." - You'll often hear linebackers who are physical earn this term, but in a positive way. Linebackers who are physical and push away players who come at them tend to earn praise by "cutting through the wash."


"Low-hanging fruit" - This moniker refers to players who are often overlooked in the scouting process. You'll often hear undrafted free agents referred to this term.

These two pieces from the last two years are a bit broader than the individual terms detailed above, but they do shine a light on the scouting process a bit...

BPA Fanpost from the wee hours post-First Round of the 2010 draft. by Jeff I.B.

Stu's BPA Fanpost from January 2009.

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Now that you've read all these, what are your thoughts on this scouting terminology?

Do you agree with the meaning the phrases are assigned?

What value do you think these terms have?

Are there other terms you have heard that weren't included in the above list?