71 of the Worst NFL Draft Cliches, Buzzwords, and Assorted Word Salad



By this week, all the soundbites for every NFL draft prospect now run together into an indecipherable word salad. Actually, it all becomes gobbedly-gook well before this week, due to the over-usage of cliches. All the Draftniks do it:

Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay, Mike Mayock, and Jon Gruden most of all. Gruden speaks with a much higher buzz word/NFL draft catch-phrase per sentence percentage than anyone. If I sat down and watched Gruden’s “QB Camp” show again, this list would be four times as long.


Actually, I shouldn’t single out Gruden, maybe Mayock is the most cliche, or any of them for that matter. By the end of NFL Draft weekend it all bleeds into the same page and runs the same.

Yes, I’m aware that many of these are just scouting terms that have made their way into the mainstream lexicon as the NFL Draft went from niche to headliner. And yes, those scouting terms do have an actual specific meaning in some cases, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t make fun of them. And yes, I do actually know what all of these are supposed to mean, but seriously, when you hear them Tbursday-Saturday, soooooooooooooooo baaaaaaaaaaaaaad!

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It probably just conveys how much the NFL Draft coverage is in overkill mode now. It’s a highly specialized activity that’s now all up in the faces of even casual football fans. Without further ado, let’s get the NFL Draft cliche party started.

1. “Has all the measurables”

2.”measurables monster”

3. “aced the scouting combine”

4. “combine hero”

5. “he can make all the throws”

jimbo fisher jameis winston 2015-nfl-mock-draft

6. “character issues” 7. “red flags”

8. “off-the-field issues” <– these are all essentially all the same thing. They are blanket terms that can cover serious things like alleged murder and rape accusations. I mean “red flag” is a legitimately important metaphor, and players who have committed violent crimes don’t really deserve euphemisms.

However, these phrases can also cover immature, dumb, but essentially harmless things like stealing crab meat and yelling “fuck her right in the pussy” on top of a table. When we were 18 or 19 we pretty much all did stuff that was beyond stupid and inexplicable.

These three terms can cover a wide spectrum of events, and they range greatly in how serious or superficial the magnitude.

Can’t you just say the legal term for the alleged crime? Supposed infraction? Would that really be such a big deal?


9. “quicker than fast”

10. “can drop his pads”

11. “all he does is make plays”

12. “manufacturing touches”

13. “his tape is better than he tests”

nfl draft town 2016 nfl mock draft

14. “can get up the field”

15. “straight line speed”

16. “generational talent”

17. “a wow get off”

18. “sets a violent edge”

19.”great acceleration to the ball.”

20. “a height/weight/speed guy”

21. “best take get off”

22. “converts speed to power”

23. “edge-rusher” <–a new position made up during the past ten years, used to be called “defensive end” or “outside linebacker”

24. “plays well in space” <– this one always reminds me of “IIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNN SPPPPPAAAAAAAAACCCCCEEEEE” like the old Daffy Duck cartoons “Duck Dodgers! Of the 24th and a half century!!”

25. “hand-in-the-ground player” <– so he’s a gardener? and yes I know what it really means

26. “high character guy”

27. “tremendous upside”

28. “untapped potential”


29. “great ball skills”

30. “you coach him up” <– one of Kiper’s favorites, at this point Mel Kiper essentially is Frank Caliendo doing Mel Kiper, much like Jon Gruden actually is Frank Caliendo doing Jon Gruden.

31. “plays faster/slower than his tape/tests”

32. “5 technique, 3 technique”<– just a trendier, more scientific renaming of the defensive tackle or nose tackle position

33. “gets all the 50/50 balls” <– a more recent one, which originated in basketball

34. “shows great physicality”

35. “at the point of attack” <–this isn’t a trench in the Ardennes during World War I


36. “a space eater/run stuffer/a big body” we also would have accepted “road grader”

37. “a high motor guy”

38. “intangibles”

39. “SEC speed” <–the bastard cousin of this one is “he’s good at catching it in a crowd because he’ll always be in one”

40. “true north/south runner” <– I know what this means, but man I still really hate this one

41. “great acceleration in getting to the second level,” “pad level” is a catching on a lot too.

42. “very coachable”

43. “doesn’t have a lot of tread/too much tread on the tires”

44. “a locker room guy”


45.”he’s a football player” <–well, no shit he’s a football player but yes, we still hear this one all the time

<-which is loosely related to “He just wins” and “he’s just a winner”

45. “a man child”

46. “he’s a beast”

47. “Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane”<– a guy who really looks like he should be very good, but actually totally sucks. This one might be a bit sexist, misogynist depending on just how far you go in being pc.

48. “It’s a quarterback driven league”

49. “It all starts with the quarterback”

50. “It’s a passing league”

mike mayock randy gregory

51. “blue collar”

52. “lunch pail”

53. “hard hat”

54. “grinder”

55.  “he’s a freak/physical freak/freak of nature”

56. “can be gap sound”

57. “fox hole guy” <– bastard sibling of “point of attack” “in the trenches guy”

58. “phone booth guy” “you put ’em in a phone booth” “he plays in a phone booth”

59. “plays to the whistle” “gets after it on every play”

Has your mind been turned into oatmeal yet, from all of this mush, or should I continue?

60. “passes the eye test”

61. “eye discipline”

62. “physical specimen”

63. “football IQ”

64. “a quick study”

65. “plug n play”

jon gruden chicago bears

66. “day one starter”

67. “mortgage the future”

68. “heat seeking missile”

69. “those big paws”

70. “unleashes upfield”

71. “good gap integrity”

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.


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