Just as the calendar turns to April and the NFL Draft inches closer, a rabid subculture begins to surface with increasing frequency. "Draftniks" – a mostly complimentary term used to describe avid and obsessed football fans that pour over NFL Scouting Combine results and pro day workout numbers – start to infiltrate the internet, sports radio and cable sports networks everywhere.
For diehard fans, it is indeed the most wonderful time of the year.
Opinions, views and analysis spark fodder and discussion, while also creating a unique language all its own called "scout speak". Players are referred to as "quick twitch" athletes, "3-techniques" or "workout warriors" in the days leading up to the annual talent grab bag.
As the Chicago Bears spend the final two weeks before the April 26-28 draft finalizing their draft board and preparing intensively with coaches, scouts and new GM Phil Emery, they'll certainly discuss the virtues of hundreds of players with colorful descriptions. In that spirit, we provide the following glossary of scouting terms.
With the right vocabulary, you just might be the next Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, or Mike Mayock.
Used to describe a lineman's ability to stand his ground and not be moved.
A quarterback's tendency to lock on one primary receiver, tipping off astute defenders.
A receiver that catches the ball in his body rather than snatching it with his hands. Body catching can lead to deflected balls and dropped passes.
Gets through trash
A positive trait where a defender is able to sort through a logjam of players to get to the ball and make the tackle. Demonstrates agility and awareness.
A skill used by offensive lineman to get into a defender with his hands.
An unflattering term used to describe a fringe player – as in "just another guy". Interchangeable with the term "slap/slappy".
A player who bends his knees rather than his waist; a positive characteristic, especially for offensive lineman.
Light in the pants
A player that is considered undersized in the lower body. Not strong or physical enough.
A player that exhibits little, if any, emotion. Displays a lack of intensity.
A player, commonly a wide receiver, that takes long steps instead of short, quick steps. Tends to move in and out of his breaks slower.
Plays until he hears glass break
Positive trait. Goes until the play is over and the whistle is blown.
On the hoof
Initial impression of a player at first glance.
Plays with his pads too high
Loses leverage by playing too upright.
A positive. Refers to a player who possesses reflexive muscles that make him more explosive and able to react quickly.
A player that is easily discarded or tossed around.
A defensive lineman lined up on the outside of a guard's shoulder, commonly referred to as the B gap. A key characteristic of the Bears' 4-3 defense. Ideally, a player should be fast and quick, and able to penetrate through one gap. Also known as an under tackle.
A player that falls between two NFL positions in a gray area, such as either a defensive end or outside linebacker, due to size and speed factors.
Size, speed and strength.
Jeff Curts is a graduate of Sports Management Worldwide, having completed the Scout & General Manager course under the direction of former NFL scout and current Sporting News draft expert Russ Lande. Jeff is founder and publisher of the Web site Bears Claws and hosts the program "Bears Claws" on BlogtalkRadio. He is a regular contributor to BearReport.com.