There are several words used by analysts to describe college players entering the NFL draft that drive me crazy.
- Athletic. What does it mean to be athletic? Shouldn’t all athletes getting paid to play sports be considered athletic?
- High upside. How many teams draft players because they have little or no upside?
- Get-off. This is a newer term and it’s just weird. Am I reading about NFL prospects or porn actors?
Perhaps my least favorite words, however, are “effort” and “motor.” I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think effort has to do with how hard you try and motor has something to do with how hard you try throughout an entire play/game/season (I’m not sure about motor. It’s another one of those words, like “athletic,” that people tend to throw out there even though they really don’t know what it means).
Nearly every prospect is judged as either a max-effort guy with a high motor or someone whose effort is questionable with a motor that runs hot and cold.
Look, I get it. We all want players on our favorite teams that give 110 percent so we feel obligated to make judgments about a guy’s effort before he even gets into town. But you have to understand something when reading scouting reports and stories about a player’s effort or motor: Only the really good players get critiqued on effort.
Typically, you don’t see the mediocre linebacker or struggling-to-get-by running back called out for being lazy. Those types of players really don’t stand out in the first place, so it’s tough to tell if they’re dogging it.
The good prospects — players that are good enough to play in the NFL — are held to a different standard. NFL-caliber prospects look more impressive than everyone else. When they’re not dominating or playing at a level we feel they’re capable of, well, then they must have low motors or issues with effort.
Packers first-round pick Nick Perry has had his effort questioned.
From Bob McGinn (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel):
“Perry, who hails from Detroit, didn’t give teams pause from a character standpoint. He just didn’t play hard. In fact, one scout maintained that if (Jerel) Worthy was a 70%-30% player in terms of giving effort, Perry was 30%-70%.”
From the National Football Post:
“Scouts believe Perry could play harder. One called him an underachiever. There are concerns about his conditioning. ‘His get-off can be lethargic,’ one general manager said.”
Not all scouting reports questioned Perry’s effort. Here’s a sample of reports that were impressed with Perry’s effort and motor:
“I like Nick Perry’s consistent effort. He shows good range and is always making tackles downfield well away from his starting point. It is also encouraging to see him get his hands up on tons of passing plays in which he was unable to get to the quarterback. That shows both effort and awareness on his part.”
“Works hard to collapse the pocket with a relentless motor.”
“Plays with a good motor, works hard in pursuit, finds the football and has good range.”
So which is it? Does Perry dog it? Is his motor hot or cold? Is he lethargic or explosive?
We don’t know. And we won’t know until we see him play for the Packers. I understand that McGinn is just doing his job and relaying what others are telling him about Perry. McGinn also provides plenty of other insight about Perry beyond just his effort issues, but I wish the words effort and motor would go away along with athletic, upside and get-off.
Tell me what we know about a player, not what we perceive. And even if we’re relatively sure that a player might have effort issues, let’s remember that these are 21-year-old kids straight out of college. A lot of us probably had effort issues at that point of our lives.
Unless it’s Randy Moss or Albert Haynesworth, we usually don’t judge a player’s “effort” once they’re in the NFL. Players are either good, or they’re bad. They either get the job done, or they don’t.
There’s no reason we shouldn’t use the same criteria to judge a player before he puts on an NFL uniform.——————