<
>
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT
Get ESPN+

Welcome to the National Pick League! Inside a play that's killing defenses

During almost every NFL game this year, we're hearing announcers say, "They just used a little pick route there." It often comes with a chuckle, the same way you laugh at an obvious hold. "You can call a penalty on every play in this league, Bob!" And the game moves on. But it also has become a divisive point. After all, if it's run against your team, it's an obvious case of cheating. But if your guy is getting open off these "picks," then it seems to be a clever way to move the sticks or produce points. Maybe it's even incidental.

So, which is it: an illegal play or smart football, blatant cheating or a little basketball on grass? Well, it's really both, and every team in the league is doing it to counter man-coverage schemes from defenses.