Teams prefer piano players in the trenches
By Matt Mosley
One of the most important steps in becoming an NFL draft guru is learning how to properly use words and phrases that leave your co-workers and spouse feeling inadequate and slightly dim.
It's also important to make constant references to a mock draft that you may or may not actually produce.
I like to keep mine hermetically sealed until the eve of the draft to stave off other would-be draft gurus who could use my information to suggest they nailed 88 of the first 100 draft picks, otherwise known as the point when you've given up on having healthy relationships.
But with the combine beginning in Indianapolis this week, it seems like the appropriate time to pull back the curtain and try to provide helpful definitions so that you won't get the wrong idea when you hear the phrase "Big on Big."
Think of the following draft glossary as the key to convincing your loved ones that you truly are superior to them in every way.
And just to keep you guessing, why don't we start with the A's:
The ability to hold one's ground. Example: "That former student-athlete really anchors well at the point of attack."
Large buttocks and thigh area. This is considered a positive, although women often take exception. Example: "We have to get our hands on more of those bubble butts."
Cuts through trash:
Does a good job of maneuvering around pileups to make plays. Example: "The linebacker knows how to cut through the trash near the line of scrimmage and still spend time with his family."
Bobbles the ball before securing it. Example: "Double-catches give defenders time to break up plays and triple-catches give Cowboys safety Roy Williams time to make plays."
Someone who effectively rushes the quarterback from the outside. Example: "Shawne Merriman is an edge pass-rusher in San Diego's 3-4 defense when not serving four-game suspensions."
Flatten the corner:
The ability of a pass-rusher to lower his inside shoulder and bend his knees while turning the corner on a blocker who's leaning on him. Example: "Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware knows how to flatten the corner against offensive tackles and also finds time to buy every shirt that Lacoste makes."
To establish credibility, I will take the rest of this more seriously.
Gathers to cut:
This refers to a receiver who has to take choppy steps before breaking into a route. Example: "T.O. gathers himself for several minutes before cutting."
Hangs in plant:
When a defensive back hesitates in planting his feet and driving to the ball. Example: See: Roy Williams.
Describes how quickly an offensive or defensive lineman gets off the ball. Example: "We're concerned about the young man's IQ."
The ability to avoid being tackled. Example: "The Saints' Reggie Bush is perhaps the best juker in the league, although juker doesn't appear to be a word."
Scouts prefer this type of player to a waist-bender. Example: "He's gone on another knee-bender, which should give him more leverage in trash."
Player who doesn't take quick steps and often has a tough time getting in and out of breaks. Example: "T.O. is able to drop balls in [long] stride."
Refers to a player's energy. An annual nominee for most overused word during the draft. Example: "This kid has a high motor, mainly because I've never heard of this kid in my life!"
A special type of shoe that supposedly improves a player's 40-yard dash time. These are not allowed at the combine, but players try to use them during pro days. Example: "Isn't it wonderful to see an athlete with nubs succeed?"
On the ground:
Not a phrase you want showing up next to your name. It's typically used to describe offensive linemen who can't stay on their feet. Example: "Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas is rarely seen on the ground in Madison."
Plays the piano:
Describes a lineman who does a good job moving up and down the line of scrimmage. Example: "Michigan's Alan Branch plays the piano like Van Cliburn."
Phrase used to compliment a player on how quickly he reacts. Example: "Pittsburgh's Darrelle Revis doesn't have quick-twitch athleticism, but his first name does have an odd spelling."
Wide-bodied, powerful blocker. Example: "Texas Tech's Manuel Ramirez was a road-grader at the Senior Bowl, and that was somewhat surprising since he played in the same offense the Sigma Chis used to win the intramural title."
Player who is effective running in a straight line but has trouble making cuts. Example: "Some defensive backs not named Roy Williams have tremendous straight-line speed but have trouble using their hips to transition into covering receivers."
A defensive lineman who can cover two gaps in the offensive line. Example: "Louisville's Amobi Okoye is an accomplished two-gap run defender and is kind to small woodland creatures."
A running back who has the skill to produce at numerous positions in the offense. Example: "A utility back can be someone spectacular such as Reggie Bush or he can be a likable soul such as Aveion Cason.
One of the most important traits for a running back. The ability to quickly identify holes. Example: Emmitt Smith had remarkable vision and the good sense to know he had a great chance of edging out someone from the cast of 'Gimme a Break' in a dance contest."
Wood hauler's butt:
Usually refers to an offensive lineman who has no appreciable rear end. When you arch your back while carrying firewood, this is the result. Example: "Cowboys right tackle Marc Colombo has a wood hauler's butt, but still deserves to be treated like a human being."
An offensive lineman who works well in space. Example: "He's an excellent zone-blocker because he senses defenders entering his area and there aren't many viable words beginning with Z."
Matt Mosley covers the NFL for ESPN.com. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org