Football scouts have their own language, and following along sometimes can prove difficult for even the serious football fan. Our team at Scouts Inc. has compiled and defined a list of terms to help you better understand the language of football scouting.
Anchor: An offensive lineman's ability to hold his ground against a physical defensive player on a bull rush or blitz.
Awareness: A player's ability to recognize movements around him and react in a preemptive manner to make or disrupt a play.
Base: The ability to move in any direction at a moment's notice without interruption or hesitation. Similar to body control.
Bull Rush: A defensive player who runs directly into a blocker without making any movements to go around.
Collapse the pocket: When the horseshoe of protection created by the offensive linemen for the quarterback breaks down due to a defensive player penetrating the area of protection.
Diagnose: When a defensive player recognizes a play as a pass or run after the snap by reading his keys and using good instincts.
Drive block: When an offensive lineman moves and controls his opponent off the line of scrimmage in the run game.
East-west: When a ball carrier moves laterally more often than running forward, decreasing his ability to gain positive momentum and yardage.
Engulf: When one player is surrounded by a mass of players or physically overwhelmed by a single player and thus becomes a non-factor in helping to implement, or hinder, a play. Offensive or defensive term.
Explosiveness: The ability to rapidly accelerate from stop to start. Also, the ability to strike quickly in blocking with the use of arms and hands.
(To) Fill vs. the run: When linebackers or safeties recognize and react to the run, stepping up to occupy the space created by the offense when attempting to run the football.
Gets over trash/moves well in trash: The ability of a defensive player, usually a linebacker, to move fluidly through the bodies on the ground and in front of him to get to the ball carrier without disrupting his natural athletic movements.
Get under the offense tackle: Defensive lineman's ability to use leverage to hold his ground at the point of attack and prevent a runner from coming through the gap that is his responsibility.
Hips and turns: The ability of a defensive back to open his hips without losing speed in transition from a backpedal to a full-out run. Indicates whether a player in coverage can change directions and stay with quicker, shiftier receivers.
Initial punch/Hand punch/Violent punch: The force and hand strength used by a player when trying to create separation from an opponent. Most often refers an offensive lineman's force on a defensive lineman when pass protecting.
Knee-bender: An offensive or defensive player who can bend his knees easily. He is not a stiff player who plays straight-legged but instead has the ability to bend at the knees, making him more explosive in blocking or taking on blocks.
(To play with) Leverage: Maintaining solid balance and body control. Not playing straight-legged or bending at the waist. Playing in a good football position.
Makes plays on the move: Typically, a linebacker or defensive end who is better in space or when allowed to run free than when forced to play in traffic.
Mauler: A player with the size and strength to win most battles in a short area but who usually lacks great mobility.
Measurables/tools: Quantitative measurements of a player, such as his height, weight, speed and bench press repetitions.
Mirror-and-slide: The ability to move sideways with a defender while maintaing a solid base. Mainly refers to offensive tackles who can keep good position while staying in front of an outside edge pass rusher.
Move-the-chains player: A possession receiver who makes the tough catch in a crowd, knows where the first-down marker is and is a go-to guy on third down.
Moving target: A defender who is on the move, flowing to the ball or playing laterally. The term mainly refers to offensive linemen who are trying to find the "moving target" and get him blocked in space.
Nonstop motor: Never stops hustling or takes a play off.
North-south: A ball carrier who doesn't dance and gets upfield right away.
One-gap DT: A defensive lineman who can hold the point of attack in either A gap, between the center and guard, and occupy a blocker.
Overextend: When a player lunges and gets out of position in his haste to attack or be the aggressor.
Pad level: Refers to an offensive or defensive player. Ideally, a player will keep his pads square to the person he is blocking or who is blocking him. Maintaining good pad level allows a player to keep his feet and stay off the ground.
Pass pro: Pass protection.
Phone booth: A short area or confined space when close to the line of scrimmage.
Playing too high: When a player is not a natural knee bender. He plays straight-legged and is stiff in his lower body. He does not bend well, which causes him to play too erect.
Point of attack: An area between the tackles where the offensive play is designed to go.
Punch: A technique in which a blocker strikes the opposing defensive lineman in the chest to stop his advance. The heavier the punch, the better the chance of stopping the defender in his tracks.
Quick-twitch athleticism: The explosive movement needed for short sprints, as opposed to the long muscle groups needed for long distance running. Someone with quick-twitch athleticism can be very quick initially, as well as in change of direction, etc.
Quicker than fast: Fast refers to long speed (40 yards for example). Quick refers to his first 2-3 steps, or covering 5-10 yards.
Redirect: A player's ability to alter his path or direction to make a block or get to a tackle.
Rip move: When a pass rusher punches his lead hand and arm (left arm when rushing right; right arm when rushing left) under the outstretched blocking arms of the pass blocker in order to get his shoulders, then his body, past the blocker.
Run fits: When all defensive linemen are protecting their assigned lanes to defend the run.
Scraping the line: When a linebacker has to scrape right behind the defensive tackle to slide to the outside and fill the run lane, or when a defensive lineman has to scrape behind another defensive lineman to slide to the adjacent run lane.
Second level: The area beyond the defensive line, generally considered the space where the linebackers roam. Running backs need to be able to make people miss at the second level, while blockers need to be able to make contact with defenders at the second level.
Shaded nose: When a defensive lineman lines up just off center from the man across from him.
Shed: When defensive linemen use his hands to control and disengage from blockers.
Possession skills or measurables: Attributes such as size, strength and hands that enable a receiver to make tough catches in traffic.
Short-area quickness: A player's ability to be sudden with his movement in a limited space. This is most often used in describing an interior defensive lineman's movement inside the tackle box but is not limited to defensive players.
Short set in pass pro: Offensive lineman who can get out of his stance quickly and get into position as a pass blocker on a three-step drop.
Space (plays well in): A player's ability to be under control and gather himself effectively in an open area.
Stalk blocker: When a wide receiver positions himself to block a defender (most often a defensive back) using his hands and staying upright on the perimeter to extend a ball carrier's ability to gain extra yards.
Stiff hips: The inability of a player to bend and move laterally. A stiff-hipped player would be limited in changing direction or moving fluidly.
Straight-line speed: A runner's speed when he doesn't have to change direction. Example: 40-yard dash.
Stretch the seam: A receiver's ability to get deep vertically between defenders.
Sub packages: The defensive and offensive personnel inserted to change the base package in specific situations. Examples: A four wide receiver sub package is countered by a nickel or dime package, which inserts extra defensive backs and a pass-rush specialist. A goalline or short-yardage offensive approach may use a jumbo package with an extra tight end or offensive lineman inserted is countered by an extra defensive lineman and removing a defensive back in the defensive sub package.
Technician: A fundamentally sound player who puts himself in good position to make plays.
Three-technique: The alignment of a defensive tackle on an offensive guard.
Two-gap DT: An interior defensive lineman aligning head up on a guard with the responsibility to control the blocker and shed to either side effectively.
Under tackle: When an interior defensive lineman is aligned on an inside shade of an offensive guard.
Waist bender: Any player who is not very flexible through his hips and tends to bend midway down his torso while moving. This is a negative term that refers most often to an offensive lineman when attempting to block a defender.
Wall-off blocker: An offensive player who stays upright and positions himself effectively to keep a defender from making the play. This is a finesse approach to blocking, not a physical or explosive technique.
Wave player: A backup player who has the ability to perform well over short periods while the starter rests.