Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Scouting Glossary: Three Facets of Finishing Routes with WR Zay Flowers (Boston College)

Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Scouting Glossary defines three facets of finishing routes with NFL Draft prospect, wide receiver Zay Flowers of Boston College. 

The Finish Is the Third Phase of Route Running in Football

The Rookie Scouting Portfolio scouting criteria for route running separates the process into three phases:

  1. The Release: When the receiver leaves the line of scrimmage and begins his route.
  2. The Stem/Setup:  The path the receiver takes and the choices he makes to set up his break.
  3. The Finish: The receiver’s change of direction at the top of the stem (the break) and his position and his path taken to optimize his availability for the quarterback to target him.

Although the best routes are routes where the receiver wins separation in the early phases of the pattern, the quarterback is not always in a position or situation to locate the receiver and deliver a viable target. How well a receiver finishes his route can be the difference in the outcome of the play.

There are three facets of finishing routes that a receiver can execute to optimize the effectiveness of a passing play: finishing friendly, running away from the defender, and re-routing when the first break doesn’t generate a target.

Finishing Friendly

Although many routes are choreographed so the quarterback throws the ball to an anticipated location of where the receiver will be when the ball arrives, there are also many routes where the quarterback doesn’t begin his throw until the receiver has finished his break.

This may have to do with the quarterback moving from one potential target choice to another and often while navigating his away around defenders trying to tackle him or fill his passing lane. There are a variety of factors that may disrupt a quarterback’s timing or alter his choices.

One of the most important things a receiver can to do aid his quarterback in these scenarios is to finish friendly:

  • Turn the chest and pads toward the quarterback out of the break.
  • Turn the head to the quarterback.

Finishing friendly maximizes the visual size of the target and this is important for a quarterback operating from a crowded area. This is especially true when pressure forces a quarterback to drop his eyes from what’s happening downfield to avoid imminent danger and then refocus on potential targets.

There are a lot of bodies moving in space at a high rate of speed in a short period of time. The more a receiver can position himself to make the target easier, the better the quarterback’s chances of delivering an accurate throw.

Running Away from the Defender

Regardless of the direction in that a route breaks, the receiver must be mindful of executing a break that will maximize the space between himself and the nearest defenders in the area. This is easier to do when a break requires the receiver to continue moving at a high rate of speed.

It’s still vital for a receiver to continue working away from defenders when running routes with a break that requires a 180-degree turn out of a sudden stop — a stop executed after the receiver has been accelerating downfield. Although the receiver may not re-accelerate to full speed from such a break, continuing to move away from the trailing defender with a friendly finishing position with the head and chest facing the quarterback also optimizes the potential for the receiver to earn the target.


There’s a point of diminishing returns with a route break where the coverage catches up to the receiver or the quarterback cannot make the throw due to pressure that forces him to avoid defenders. The receiver must understand when this is happening and work his way to an open area of the field where his quarterback has a reasonable chance of targeting him.

This is the act of re-routing. When a receiver re-routes, he’s determining his new path based on the movement of the quarterback and the coverage near him.

Receivers who possess a good feel for the coverage triangle are more apt to re-route effectively.

The Three Facets of Finishing Routes with WR Zay Flowers

And of course, if you want to know about the rookies from this draft class, you will find the most in-depth analysis of offensive skill players available (QB, RB, WR, and TE), with the 2022 Rookie Scouting Portfolio for $21.95. 

Matt’s new RSP Dynasty Rankings and Two-Year Projections Package is available for $24.95

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 the sexual abuse of children. 

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