Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Scouting Glossary: Release Stance and Motion

Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Scouting Glossary details the release stance and motion that he seeks from NFL Draft prospects at wide receiver, using Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba as an example.

Why is the Release Stance Important?

Wide receiver play bears a lot of similarities to pass rushing. Receivers and pass rushers are both trying to gain ground on an opponent from a static stance. Both positions have to manipulate the opponent to generate an advantageous path. And both positions have to know maneuvers where they attack and defend their leverage.

The stance is the foundation for all of these requirements and it means that the stance has to do three things:

  • Facilitate explosion and pose a threat that every release will lead to a vertical route.
  • Eliminate the potential for any wasted movement that can give an opponent a first-move advantage if playing the receiver tight.
  • Disguise the receiver’s true intentions with a neutral body position and that net neutral for receiver play is “every route potentially being a deep vertical route.”

When a wide receiver has an efficient and comfortable stance, he can do a lot of things that will get him separation.

Here’s Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s stance and release motion explained.

You can find a summary of the components of a good release stance and release motion below.

Components of a Good Release Stance

These are the elements of a good stance for a receiver. The components have enough leeway for the receiver to be comfortable and efficient with their stance and movement.

  • Feet staggered with the back knee aligned with the front heel.
  • A balanced stance with ~ an 80/20 weight ratio with the front foot and the back foot.
    • This facilities explosion off the line.
    • It limits the potential for wasted movement.
    • It reduces the potential for defender contact to knock the receiver off balance.
  • The stance should include some bend in the knees and hips.
    • It’s an athletic stance to facilitate balance.
    • The bend shouldn’t be too low or defenders can easily jam the receiver.
  • The arms should be uncrossed and hanging on either side of the front knee.
    • This allows for the receiver to efficiently pump his arms for acceleration if not jammed.
    • It also allows for the receiver to efficiently use his hands to counter jam attempts.

This sets the stage for the receiver to deliver an efficient and explosive release motion.

Components of A Good Release Motion

The release motion is the initial step from the stance. The best route runners sell the potential of the vertical route, specifically, the deep go (or nine-route) with every route release.

Receivers do this because if they can compel the defender to believe it’s a deep route, the defender will turn his hips downfield to keep up. This allows receivers to set up their actual route.

But, what if the route is actually a deep go? 

While true that receivers may try to manipulate the opponent into believing they are running a shallow route when running a deeper route by using a slower pace, it’s still an exceptional circumstance. Most receivers still begin a deep route with an explosive release motion and manipulate it in a different manner because it’s harder for defenders to guess a route if every route begins the same way.

The release motion that helps receivers achieve this goal has these components:

  • Going from “low” to “lower” in the stance and exploding outward with the pads down.
  • Rolling off the front foot with no rocking or extra steps with the back foot.
  • Pads over the knees.
  • Arms pumping with a deep sprinter’s motion.
  • Helmet over pads and eyes up and looking straight downfield.

These components sell the perception that the receiver is going deep. That perception sets the stage to manipulate defenders in a variety of ways.

An efficient release motion allows the receiver to attack the defender at full speed immediately, which can force the defender out of position.

When a receiver forces the defender to account for an explosive release, it allows the receiver to use his feet to manipulate the defender further out of position.

And if the defender is playing tight to the line, a receiver’s stance helps him maintain a balanced position. This will help him efficiently anticipate and counter any physical contact from the defender.

The most common issues wide receiver coaches have to correct with young pros are their stances and release motions. Added steps with the back foot and crossed arms in the stance are two of the most common culprits.

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If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2020 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2020 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

Best yet, proceeds from sales are set aside for a year-end donation to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse of children. 

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