Top 10 scouting clichés 

February, 23, 2009
I've always been fascinated watching and reading about the scouting process, and this week's NFL combine keeps my riveted to the TV.

The business of scouting -- whether it relates to the NFL or to college recruiting -- truly has its own language. Spend enough time talking to some coaches and scouts and you'll find yourself spouting out the verbage. Here are my 10 favorite scouting clichés.

1. He's got tight hips: It's the worst thing you can say about a cornerback, and it's not much better if you're a linebacker or any other position player. Most scouts will tell you that how well a guy can turn, run and change direction is often more vital than what he clocks in a 40-yard dash. Being labeled "stiff" is a stinging blow. Wonder how a guy can out-test everyone at his position -- as Nebraska's Lydon Murtha did last week -- and yet few people are buzzing about it? The explanation you usually get revolves around how stiff the player supposedly is.

2. He's got a foot: Coach speak for the amorphous injury that some player had to deal with. This kinda reminds of the occasional college war room moment where the head coach is intrigued by a prospect on film and asks his assistant, "He got grades?"

Then you get that long pause followed by the nervous "Yes."

"OK, what kind of grades?"

Longer pause.

3. He's a two-stepper: This is a good thing and in lieu of a stopwatch, it'll do as coaches try and gauge speed. They think that if you're a two-stepper, you have the speed to cover a five-yard stretch in just two strides.

4. It's a taffy-pull: One of my new favorites. Scouts love their analogies, and this one is as good as it gets to describe a defender who struggles to get rid of a blocker. You don't want a taffy puller. You want a guy who can "ragdoll" some 300-pounder.

5. He's fast-twitch: Fast-twitch refers to the muscle fibers connected with explosive movements. If you're described as such, you're probably a coveted prospect. Long-distance runners are said to be more wired with slow-twitch fibers, while sprinters are charged with fast-twitch.

6. He can really spin it: Everybody loves to watch quarterbacks who can zing the deep out. Being able to really spin it is a lot better than "he throws tail-draggers or wounded ducks."

7. He can run the horn: There are plenty of drills devised to figure out which pass rushers can contort to dip their hips, turn their bodies and accelerate around a blocker to get into the backfield. Coaches will use cones or giant hula hoops laid out on the ground to test who can do it and who can't.

8. He doesn't fog the mirror: Not the most flattering thing you can say about someone. The rough translation means the player is barely coherent in his alertness.

9. He gets caught in the trash: Some defenders don't show the wherewithal to navigate through the pile-up of bodies in the line-of-scrimmage area.

10. He's alligator fast: On the bright side, you're fast. The downside? While you have some good straight-line speed, you don't have much ability to go side-to-side with any real agility.

Random Stuff

• Bryce Brown isn't the only celebrated 2009 recruit still trying to decide on where he's going to sign. Orson Charles, a swift tight end from Florida, who might opt for the same college as former Miami QB Robert Marve (another Tampa Plant High product), took a visit to USC last weekend. Charles, who wore No. 7 in high school, apparently is quite attached to his jersey number. It also came up on his visit to USC, as Zack Lehatto reports:

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