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The CJ NFL Draft Terminology Guide

For NFL fans, the draft can be one of the most exciting times of the year. But for the novice draft watcher, the terminology used throughout the draft can sound like a whole different language. That is where this handy Draft Terminology Guide comes into use.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

If you are not a draft junky like myself (or you just speak regular English), you may find yourself needing subtitles during this weekend's draft. Fear not, we are here to provide you with our NFL Draft Terminology Guide so you don't need to feel nervous about watching the draft and sounding like an idiot when you don't understand the words coming from the announcers mouths.

Rest easy folks! With this guide at your fingertips, even the most novice draft watcher can follow the nonsensical BS slingin' lingo that the "draft experts" will be throwing around this weekend.

The CJ NFL Draft Terminology Guide


A player who has great athletic talent, but generally sucks at football.

Profile: This is a guy that looks great when running around in tights and sans his shirt (the exact opposite of Andre Smith), but performs poorly once the pads go on.

Example: Dion Jordan

Best Available (also referred to as Best Player Available or BPA)

Not necessarily a great player (though he can be), but he is better than the players who are left. Also could be used to describe a team going for the best overall player left, even if they weren't a previous target.

Big Arm

This is not a reference to the actual size of the players' arm. No, this is in reference to how far and hard a quarterback can throw the ball.

Profile: A quarterback who can throw the ball very far and hard; the exact opposite of Jon Kitna

Example: Matthew Stafford

Boom or Bust

The "Forest Gump - Box ‘O Chocolates" of draft picks. This guy might be great, or he might suck.

Profile: A player with one standout year at college.

Example: Boom - Cam Newton; Bust - Akili Smith

Can't Miss Prospect

A guy the "experts" think will be a star and has approximately zero chances of sucking.

Profile: This is a guy who has had consistent success at the college level and fits every stereotype for the position he plays (size, speed, strength, knowledge, etc)

Example: Andrew Luck


A smart player.

Profile: A player whose physical tools are not impressive, but is a great player because of his knowledge of the game.

Example: Wes Welker, and to a certain extent, Tom Brady and the Manning Brothers

Change of Pace Back

A fast running back who shares time with a bigger, more powerful running back.

Profile: A fast running back who does not play all the time. Though technically a big and powerful running back could be considered a Change of Pace Back if the starter was small and fast (i.e. Jerome Bettis to Willie Parker), those who determine how the terms are to be used have saved this one strictly for the fast running back.

Example: Darren Sproles

Cover Corner

This one is redundant, after all, a cornerbacks job is to cover a receiver. If the guy is not a Cover Corner, I would suggest not drafting him.

Profile: Every cornerback who ever played in the NFL.

Deceptively Fast/Quick/Athletic

This is one of my all-time favorites goes to a player who looks to be slower than he really is.

Profile: The term deceptive goes along with speed, quicknesss or athleticism, because a player doesn't look like he'd fit the bill.

Example: Wes Welker is "deceptively" quick. Jordy Nelson has "deceptive" speed. JJ Watt is "deceptively" athletic.

Downhill Runner

A running back who runs straight ahead and doesn't do much shifting from side-to-side. I would like to meet an Uphill Runner. I would assume an Uphill Runner has very powerful legs!

Profile: Powerful running backs that run straight ahead.

Example: Jerome Bettis

Every Down Player

A guy who does not have to come off the field in certain situations.

Profile: Hopefully most players drafted into the NFL.

Example: 95% of the NFL

Fluid Hips

You might think someone with fluid hips may have trouble standing up on a football field. You would be wrong. This is a guy who can turn from front to back (and vise versa) very quickly and in one fluid motion.

Profile: Good defensive backs.

Example: Deion Sanders

Football IQ

This is a guy who knows the game of football very well...this is generally a guy who gets little credit for his athletic ability.

Profile: This is a player whose athleticism is generally being downplayed.

Example: Clay Matthews

Football Player

This is a great one popularized by Jon Gruden and apparently signifies a guy who seems to love the game. You would think if a guy is not a "Football Player" you wouldn't want that guy on your team.

Profile: Good player who does the little to win, but still does

Example: Russell Wilson

Franchise Quarterback

A quarterback who is worthy of big time money and is a worthwhile candidate to build your franchise around.

Profile: A quarterback with Super Bowl expectations.

Example: Tom Brady


A guy that has the speed and body control of a small guy, but in a big man's body.

Profile: Usually a defensive end who is big yet runs incredibly fast.

Example: Javon Kearse

Good Anticipation

This player seems to know what will happen a moment before it actually happens.

Profile: A guy who takes chances, but rarely gets burned by the chances.

Example: Ed Reed

Good at the Point of Contact

I believe those who use this term don't actually know what the heck it means. I suppose it means that a defensive player fights off blocks and tackles well and an offensive player breaks tackles well.

Profile: Any successful defensive or offensive player ever.

Example: Ray Lewis was pretty good at the Point of Contact

Good Ball Skills

This is not a player who can spin a football on one finger Harlem Globe Trotter style. This term means a player is good at catching the football, aka has "Good Hands"

Profile: A wide receiver or defensive back who is talented at catching the football.

Example: Randy Moss

Good Base

A guy who keeps his feet wide and therefore is good at keeping his balance.

Profile: Generally used in reference to offensive and defensive linemen. Players without "Good Bases" do not last long in the NFL.

Example: Geno Atkins seems to have a wonderful base.

Good Between the Tackles

A running back who runs well up the middle of the field.

Profile: A powerful "downhill runner." This running back is often times paired with the ever popular "Change of Pace Back"...though not always (see example below).

Example: Adrian Peterson

Good Hands

A guy who does not drop passes.

Profile: A wide receiver who actually does what he is paid to do: catch the ball.

Example: A.J. Green

Good Intangibles

A guy who is not necessarily the best player, but finds a way to win or get the job done.

Profile: This is more often than not a term that accompanies the "High Motor" guy (see below).

Example: Tim Tebow

Good Leverage

A player who bends at the knees and stays lower than his opponent.

Profile: Usually a defensive player or offensive lineman. Players without the "Good Leverage" designation are those you normally see laying on their back.

Example: Geno Atkins

Good Locker Room Guy

This is a guy who is a good leader and an easy player to coach. A hard working guy who takes responsibility and has the ability to lead.

Profile: Team captains.

Example: Peyton Manning

Good/Low Pad Level

This is one of my all-time favorites. A close cousin to the "Good Leverage" designation. A guy who bends his knees, plays low, and is hard to tackle (as an offensive player) or a good tackler (as a defensive player).

Profile: This is a designation saved mostly for running backs and defensive players.

Example: Emmitt Smith

Good in Space

What guy isn't good in space? If the game of football was played in open space, everyone would have a shot at being an NFL player. This is a guy who does well in the middle of the field with no script to follow.

Profile: Generally a slot wide receiver who can make big plays off of short throws.

Example: Wes Welker


This is a guy who does the dirty work. Doesn't look pretty, but gets the job done.

Profile: Usually an offensive lineman.

Example: Alan Faneca

Heavy Hands

If you think this term makes zero sense, you're not alone. Apparently this means the guy blocks (or fights off blocks well).

Profile: A good lineman.

Example: I never met him, but I am sure Orlando Pace had very "Heavy Hands"

High Character Guy

Close relative of the "Good Locker Room Guy." Means the guy has never been arrested.

Profile: Essentially the equivalent to the "Good Locker Room Guy".

Example: RGIII was a "High Character Guy"... which is very close to being a "Good Locker Room Guy!"

High Football IQ

This is a designation for players who are not stupid.

Profile: This can be any player with the exception of a linemen. Linemen are rarely, if ever, referred to as "High Football IQ" guys...even though offensive linemen usually have very "High IQs."

Example: Peyton Manning

High Motor

Probably my favorite. This is a guy who tries hard and seemingly gets more out of his body than is expected.

Profile: A player that does not get credit for being athletic - despite being athletic. His playmaking ability is attributed to his "no quit" attitude rather than his athletic prowess. Equivalent of the "Freak" or "Athletic" designation. Therefore, players cannot be a High Motor Freak or High Motor Athlete...

Example: Justin Smith, Clay Matthews and JJ Watt are all-time "High Motor" guys.

High Upside/Ceiling

A guy who has great "Measurables" but has underperformed, yet, hasshown flashes of greatness.

Profile: Often times a small school guy that has flown under the radar.

Example: Jason Pierre Paul

Intriguing Prospect

Means the analyst doesn't know shit about how good the player is. May be good, may be a waste of a pick. A player that your eyes like, but your mind says to avoid.

Profile: A player who should be good, but has never shown the ability to match his potential.

Example: Jerome Simpson?

Lacks Speed for the Next Level or Lacks Elite Level Speed

A slow player.

Profile: A player who was extremely productive at the college level, but the scouts just can't explain his success due to his "Measurables." (See below for measureables.) Jerry Rice was in this category

Example: Not sure if Jordy Nelson fell into this category, but he likely did.


This is a new one that I have only heard Todd McShay utter. It is a term I think he just made up so he could sound cool - even though he does not sound cool.

Profile: This is a defensive end/linebacker hybrid player - though I don't know where the hell he got the "O" in the name. The term should really be "LEE," no "O"...or possibly just "Hybrid."

Example: There are a bunch of these in the 2015 draft: Shane Ray, Dante Fowler, Jr., Vic Beasley, etc.


The measurements (height, weight, hand size), speed, and strength of a player.

North South Runner

A cousin of the "Downhill Runner" and close relative to the "Between the Tackle Runner." This is a running back who runs straight ahead and does not make many lateral moves.

Profile: A 4-yards and a cloud of dust type running back.

Example: Mike Alstott


A guy who makes a lot of big plays.

Profile: On offense, this is usually a small and quick wide receiver or running back. On defense this is a guy who forces or recovers a lot of turnovers.

Example: Percy Harvin (at least he used to be)

Possession Receiver

A wide receiver with good hands and who runs many shorter routes over the middle.

Profile: A big wide receiver that does not have a lot of speed, but does have good hands.

Example: TJ Houshmanzedah

Plug and Play

This is not a video game. No. This a player who can immediately start on an NFL football team.

Profile: Usually a three or four year starter at the college level with consistent and impressive stats.

Example:  Andrew Luck


This is one of the most dangerous words in the draft evaluation process and generally means a player sucks at football...but maybe, just maybe, he could be good one day.

Profile: A player with great god given talents and "Measurables" who sucks at football and will likely be out of the league before seeing a second contract.

Example: JaMarcus Russell


A player with great "Measurables" who has not played much football but has a "High Ceiling."

Profile: A "Freak" "Athlete" with great "Measurables" and a "High Ceiling."

Example: Margus Hunt

Pure Corner

Another term with little to no true meaning. This is apparently a guy who fits exactly what "experts" think a cornerback should be (whatever that is).

Profile: Usually a very athletic and natural cornerback with "Good Ball Skills."

Example: Darrelle Revis

Quicker Than he is Fast

This term is tied to its' cousin "Shifty." A guy that is very quick, but not overly fast in long straight lines.

Profile: Small running backs and wide receivers that are very quick.

Example: Wes Welker

Raw Talent

A football player who is a "Freak" or "Athlete" but has barely played football.

Profile: An incredible athlete that has not played much football - or maybe has underperformed based on his athletic ability.Example: Ziggy Ansah


This is a guy who is picked before some ESPN announcer thinks he should be picked.

Profile: Usually a very good and productive player who is not flashy, but does what you want a player of his position to do. This player also plays a position of need for the team who drafts him.

Example: Levi Jones was considered a reach

Read Option Type Quarterback

The Read Option is a type of offense that requires the quarterback to handoff (or fake a handoff) on nearly every play and then decide to either make the handoff, run himself, or throw, depending on how he reads the defense.

Profile: This is an "Athletic" quarterback who runs a lot.

Example: Tim Tebow, maybe RGIII

Runs Behind His Pads

Another catchy phrase some analyst invented. I would like to see the guy who does not "Run Behind his Pads!" - I am sure he would be injured a lot. In fact, I don't know what the hell this term means and neither does the person using it.

Profile: Any guy who plays football and knows how to properly put on his pads.

Run Stuffer

A player who is good at occupying blocks and clogging up the running lanes. This one actually makes some sense.

Profile: A very large man that plays on the DL.

Example:  Sam Adams (pre Cincinnati days)

Second Gear

A guy who is fast and hard to catch. This is strictly reserved for offensive players. According to those privileged enough to use this one, a defensive player does not have this gear...unless he gets the ball in his hands (via turnover or as a returner), at which time, he may have that "Second Gear."

Profile: A very fast player with the ball in his hands.

Example:  Mike Wallace


A guy that can make hard cuts, quick lateral moves, and is very hard to tackle. Often times these players are "Quicker Than They are Fast."

Profile: Small running backs and wide receivers that are "Good in Space."

Example: Andrew Hawkins

Shutdown Corner

A cornerback that is so good he can keep a team's best wide receiver from making any plays. In fact, teams rarely even throw to the wide receiver covered by this guy.

Profile: Dominant cornerback who rarely sees the ball thrown to the player he is covering.

Example:  Deion Sanders


A guy who is good, but who not many people have heard of.

Profile: This is a good player who has not been discussed much in the media...often times because many in the media have never seen him.

Example: Terrell Owens

Stiff Hips

This sounds like a problem an old person has. This term refers to a players' ability to transition from running backward to forward (and vice versa) and is a damning label for a defensive back.

Profile: Defensive backs that will spend their short careers chasing down players that blow by them.

Example:  Rod Jones (Bengals CB in the mid ‘90s)

Stretch the Defense

The sibling of "Taking the Top Off the Defense." This refers to a fast wide receiver (or sometimes a pass catching tight end) who causes safeties to have to play very deep, opening up the middle of the field.

Profile: A speedy wide receiver who usually runs straight down the field.

Example: Randy Moss, Willie Gault, Alvin Harper, Mike Wallace

Sure Thing

This is a guy the "Experts" claim has zero risk and will most certainly be good. The equivalent of "Can't Miss."

Profile: A guy with a long, impressive, and consistent college track record.

Example:  John Elway

Take the Top Off the Defense

I love this one (heavy sarcasm here). A clever, yet stupid, way of saying a guy is very fast and can "Stretch the Defense."

Profile: Very fast wide receiver

Example: Randy Moss, Willie Gault, Alvin Harper and Mike Wallace

Tremendous Upside

A guy who has never done anything to really impress, but who the "Experts" think "should" be good.

Profile: A player that has accomplished very little but has good "Measurables."

Example: Vernon Gholson had "Tremendous Upside"...ask Jets fans how that worked out.

Trust Your Board

This is not a term used to describe a player, but rather a team's drafting strategy. Prior to the draft, teams rank players on a "Board" and this theory of drafting has the team drafting the highest player left on their "Board" and not going out on a limb to pick someone else. Often times "Trust Your Board" is teamed up with the "Best Available" discussion.


A guy who is a good player, but doesn't quite fit the stereotype for any position.

Profile: A player that is seen as too small for one position, yet too big for another. Coaches do not know where to play him, and therefore he normally sucks at both positions.

Example: Reinard Wilson

Value Pick

A player who is still available to be picked when many thought he would not be.

Profile: This is a player who has been passed by a lot of teams due to either injury, character concerns, or poor drafting.

Example: Aaron Rodgers


This is a player who does a lot of things good and is oftentimes used in a number of different roles.

Profile: A very good "Athlete" and sometimes even a "Freak." Rarely are "High Motor" guys "Versatile," they are "Grinders" instead.

Example: Charles Woodson, Champ Bailey, Rod Woodson

Waist Bender

No, this is not a sexual reference. This term comes with a negative connotation. A "Waist Bender" is a player who does not have "Good Pad Level" and suffers from poor "Leverage." This player stands up too straight and bends at the waist rather than the knees.

Profile: Usually an OL who isn't great

Example: Daniel Coates (former Bengals backup TE) was quite the "Waist Bender"

Wes Welker Type

One of my all-time favorites! This is a wide receiver who is not physically imposing or athletically gifted, but has "Good Hands," is a "Good Route Runner," and is generally perceived to be a "Possession Receiver."

Profile: A small wide receiver who is best on short routes over the middle and can make big plays out of short Wes Welker.

Example: Jordan Shipley, Julian EdelmanBrandon Stokely, etc.


A guy that does not impress you when watching him, but seems to always win. This player is rarely fully appreciated.

Profile: A player that does not do anything particularly well, oftentimes looks odd doing things, but seems to "Just Win Baby."

Example: Brett Favre, Tim Tebow

Works Well in Space

Who doesn't? This term is synonymous with "Shifty" and "Quicker than Fast." These are guys who turn short plays into long plays.

Profile: Players who are very hard to tackle and have a knack for turning short plays into long plays.

Example: Percy Harvin

Workout Warrior

A player who is a physical specimen and looks great at the beach...or in his workout spandex.

Profile: A "Workout Warrior" is a player who generally sucks at football, but can run fast, jump high, lift heavy weights, and looks like they were chiseled out of marble. This player is generally drafted very high by teams that are very poor at identifying talent (Jets).

Example: Vernon Gholson

And there you have it my friends! Your draft terminology guide. Keep this by your side this weekend and you will have no problem understanding the second language that draft announcers are speaking.