American Football Player Body Types

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American football player body types: While watching football with the guys on the set of the College Football Studio Show, I asked one of the former Quarterbacks how he recognized the play on television, specifically how the offense was positioning the Tight End.

I thought there would be an in-depth explanation, but his response was that he could tell from the player’s body type. And while I’m not going to pick up on this as well as someone who played the game and was around these guys all the time, I do think that there is an advantage to being a woman when it comes to using players’ bodies to help identify their position. The following is a description of the prototypical player at the offensive and defensive positions, including their skills and body types.


6’3, 225 lbs. The Quarterback is involved in almost every single play on offense and therefore needs to have an excellent understanding of the game as well as quick, intelligent decision-making skills. He has to be a leader. Some quarterbacks are more mobile than others.

Mobility helps in the event the Pass Rush forces him out of the Pocket and he needs to run. The prototypical QB has big well-defined biceps. Andrew Luck #12 (Sophomore at Stanford) 6’4, 235 lbs. Christian Ponder #7 (Senior at Florida State) 6’3, 227 lbs.

Running Back

6’1, 225 lbs. By definition, these players have to be great runners. It helps if they have good vision to see holes and lanes before they even open up. They can also make catches and serve as a receiving threat and should help block when not being used in the play. It’s important that they don’t have problems holding onto the ball (fumbles are a big concern).

American football player body types

The key for Running Backs to find success is to patiently move to the hole and then burst through it. Having the ability to quickly change direction on the move can really make these players stand out. Mark Ingram #22 (Junior at Alabama) 5’10, 215 lbs. Jacquizz Rodgers #1 (Junior at Oregon State) 5’7, 188 lbs. (Note that below Jacquizz is standing in front of his brother James #8 who is the same size but plays Wide Receiver, just to show that these are prototypical body types but not limiting or conclusive).


6’0, 240 lbs. These are the stockiest of the players or at least should be as their strength and vision are more important than speed for their purpose in the running game. Like their body types, they are used for short-yardage situations in both running and passing situations. Oftentimes, Running Backs rely on their Fullbacks to lead the way for them to run through the defense.

The importance of a Fullback clearing a path for the runner is immeasurable. In fact, I personally incorporate a Fullback into my life in NYC just to get across the sidewalks. Sometimes when it’s really crowded, I will seek out a solid-looking man to walk behind whose presence on the sidewalk automatically clears a path for me and helps me avoid getting knocked around by tourists who aren’t paying attention to where they’re walking. Stanley Havili (Senior at USC) 6’1, 230 lbs, Owen Marecic #48 (Senior at Stanford) 6’1, 234 lbs.

Wide Receiver

6’3, 220 lbs. Speed is one of the most important qualities for these players. They also need to be agile and jump up and catch the ball. And they need good hands to hold onto it. These are the divas on the football field and the ones who probably look for the most attention.

As a professional Wide Receiver pointed out, the reason they are like this may be due to the fact that they need to fight for the Quarterback’s attention to get the ball thrown to them on each play, while the other players, such as Quarterbacks and Running Backs are certain to touch the ball throughout the game on designated plays. AJ Green #8 (Junior at Georgia) 6’4, 207 lbs, Michael Floyd #3 (Junior at Notre Dame) 6’3, 220 lbs.

Tight End

6’6, 265 lbs. These players are the tallest receivers. They aren’t as fast as the Wide Receivers or Running Backs though. They’re a little slower and larger and used often to block or occupy defenders.

They get much fewer passes thrown to them during the game than the Wide Receivers. Kyle Rudolph #9 (Junior at Notre Dame) 6’6, 265 lbs. Luke Stocker #88 (Senior at Tennessee) 6’6, 253 lbs.

Offensive Tackle

6’7, 335 lbs. These guys are typically the largest (in terms of height and weight) on the Offensive Line and actually on the entire field. They need an initial punch at the line that disturbs defenders immediately.

The best ones are large and strong but also mobile enough to get into the best blocking situations. Gabe Carimi #68 (Senior at Wisconsin) 6’7, 315 lbs. Lee Ziemba (Senior at Auburn) 6’8, 320 lbs. Matt Reynolds #70 (Junior at BYU) 6’6, 329 lbs.


6’4, 310 lbs. The Center is the captain of the line and needs to be a quick thinker. He snaps the ball on every play (usually to the Quarterback so that relationship is important) and has to be able to quickly deliver it at the same point every snap.

They also serve as a great blocking force on the line. Mike Pouncey #55 (Senior at Florida) 6’4, 310 lbs. Tim Barnes #63 (Senior at Missouri) 6’4, 310 lbs.

Offensive Guards

6’4, 330 lbs. The Offensive Guard is about the same height as the Center but should weigh more. He needs a wide, powerful base to push against the defenders and drive them off of the line.

He also needs to stay balanced and be a strong, immovable force against charging defenders. Justin Boren #65 (Senior at Ohio State) 6’3, 320 lbs. Carl Johnson #57 (Senior at Florida) 6’5, 360 lbs.

Defensive Tackle

6’4, 300 lbs. He isn’t the fastest player on the field but needs to be quick. His strength is used to stop the run and push through to the quarterback, depending on what the situation necessitates. He must quickly be able to start the play by getting out of his stance and be able to change directions easily.

The best Defensive Tackles will also be able to cause the Pocket to collapse (where the Quarterback stands) and will interrupt the passing play that way, but not all will be as good at rushing the Quarterback as they are at run-stopping. He is generally the biggest and most powerful player on the defense and may even be as big as the Offensive Linemen. Jarvis Jenkins #99 (Senior at Clemson) 6’4, 310 lbs. Jared Crick (Junior at Nebraska) 6’6, 285 lbs.

Defensive End

6’5, 285 lbs. This player should be the fastest on the Defensive Line. He needs to be able to quickly rush the Quarterback while having enough strength to get past the Offensive Linemen. Robert Quinn #42 (Junior at North Carolina) 6’5, 270 lbs, Cameron Heyward #97(Senior at Ohio State) 6’5, 288 lbs.

Inside Linebacker

6’3, 250 lbs. The prototypical Inside Linebacker (ILB) is faster than the linemen but slower than everyone else on the defense. He is typically the biggest and strongest of the linebackers. This position is for a natural leader who can quickly read the offense and know how to pursue the ball carrier.

He is involved in blitzing and must defend the middle against the pass. If there is only one inside linebacker as opposed to two, he is called the Middle Linebacker (MLB). MLBs are the captains of the unit and must know many different strategies, reads, and skills. Mike Mohamed #18 (Senior at California) 6’3, 236 lbs. Greg Jones #53 (Senior at Michigan State) 6’1, 235 lbs.

Outside Linebacker

6’3, 245 lbs. The Outside Linebacker (OLB) is generally a little faster than the Inside Linebacker (ILB). In fact, OLBs tend to be the fastest and most agile Linebackers on the defense. The Strongside Linebacker (SLB) is bigger and stronger than the Weakside Linebacker (WLB) because he spends more time at the line and is on the side with more players (strong side).

The SLB is on the side with the TE on both running and passing plays. The WLB deals well with covering open space. Both must be able to take on blockers and have explosive power. Akeem Ayers #10 (Junior at UCLA) 6’4, 254 lbs. Von Miller #40 (Senior at Texas A&M) 6’3, 240 lbs. Mark Herzlick #94 (Senior at Boston College) 6’4, 236 lbs.


6’1, 205 lbs. This player needs to be fast to keep up with the Wide Receivers. He’s probably the fastest player on the defense. He’ll also need to be able to jump well to match up with receivers who are taller than him.

His main responsibility is to cover Wide Receivers to defend against the passing game. Patrick Peterson #7 (Junior at LSU) 6’1, 211 lbs. Brandon Harris #1 (Junior at Miami, FL) 5’11, 190 lbs.


6’2, 220 lbs. The Safety is fast and the Free Safety is probably even faster than the Strong Safety because he spends more time in deep zones. He needs to be able to time his jumps well to get defend the pass. The Free

Safety relies more on his speed and agility and Strong Safety relies more on his strength, especially when patrolling the underneath zones. These players may be the best all-around athletes on the field. Free Safety Lance Mitchell #10 (Junior at Oregon State) 6’2, 207 lbs. Strong Safety Tyler Sash #9 (Junior at Iowa) 6’1, 210 lbs.

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