Posted: Friday April 27, 2007 11:59AM; Updated: Friday April 27, 2007 12:00PM
As you might have heard, the NFL Draft has become arguably the nation's biggest sporting event. If you're going to tune in for any of the 18 hours (!!!) of live coverage this weekend on ESPN, you'll want more than just your copy of Don Banks' latest mock draft. Here's the 10 Spot's glossary of key draft terms:
1. Character issues. Euphemism for "possible future felon," except when it means "already convicted felon." How big of an "issue" character is correlates inversely with the player's talent and projected impact. The "issue" can apparently be wiped clean if you admit to the wrongdoing ahead of time, whether it's steroids (see Castillo, Luis) or smoking pot (see Johnson, Calvin; Okoye, Amobi; and Adams, Gaines).
2. Workout wonder. The player was no star during actual games but wowed scouts at the combine or his "pro day" by displaying key football skills such as running fast without pads, shuffling between orange cones and soaring in the standing broad jump. Such brilliance is enough to convince purportedly sane team executives that said player will be terrific at the "next level" despite being merely mediocre against lesser competition in college. See Mamula, Mike.
3. Mr. Irrelevant. No, not the last pick in the draft. Rather, it refers to Lions president Matt Millen, who somehow keeps his job even though his draft picks tend to disappear as completely as the patience of Detroit fans.
4. Reach. Means either a) the draft analyst's often meaningless "grades" have the player ranked much lower than where he's just been selected, so said analyst is saving face by ripping the pick, or b) the GM has just lost his mind, and his job might soon follow. These options are not mutually exclusive.
5. Waist-bender. Not a compliment. Used for an offensive lineman who bends from the waist, like an old man trying to pick up the morning paper back when people read actual newspapers, rather than from his knees. Decreases "leverage." Often associated with guys whose waists are so huge that it's a wonder they can bend at all.
6. Tremendous upside. A description of Mel Kiper Jr.'s wall-of-follicles hairstyle.
7. Best player available/on the board. The team has just squandered its pick by ignoring its many glaring positional needs to take a shiny, big-name player, often at an offensive skill position. See Millen, Matt, and his first-round wide receiver fixation.
8. Sleeper. No longer a meaningful term. Back in the dark ages, it referred to a small-college player than nobody had heard of before (see Simms, Phil, from Morehead State in Kentucky). But that's virtually impossible now that seemingly every 12-year-old knows more about the draft than Einstein knew about physics.
9. Motor. Used most often with defensive linemen and linebackers, it means the athlete actually tries relatively hard for all six seconds of a typical play. Apparently this trait is rare enough that it deserves special notice. The antonym of "workout wonder."
10. On the clock. The team with the next pick is said to be "on the clock," since the NFL allots a specific amount of time between selections depending on the round. In the first round that amount is an inexplicable 15 minutes, because despite several months of scouting most teams seem absolutely perplexed when their turn finally arrives. Picks are usually handed in during the final seconds except for the Vikings, who routinely miss the deadline altogether.
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