lineman football

What Is A Lineman In Football?

You’ll see players taking positions on the field at the start of any down in football. One such group of players are the linemen. If you’re looking to understand the game of football, then you need to know what a lineman in football means.

So, what is a lineman in football? In American football, a lineman is a player on the offensive or defensive team specializing in play at the line of scrimmage. Linemen are the heaviest and largest players on the field on any team.

There are the offensive linemen and defensive linemen. The linemen of a team in possession are the offensive linemen, while the linemen of the opposing team are the defensive linemen.

On the line of scrimmage, there are usually 5 offensive linemen and three to four defensive linemen depending on the defensive formation.

Looking to learn more about the lineman position in football? If yes, then keep reading below.

What Does Lineman Do In Football

When discussing the roles of a lineman in football, you need a clear distinction between an offensive lineman and a defensive lineman. They’re both linemen in football at the line of scrimmage. But performing different roles.

As for the offensive lineman, he’s one of the five players protecting and blocking the defense from tackling their quarterback. He lines at the line of scrimmage and makes schemes of play. 

But the specific assignments of an offensive lineman can vary depending on the play they call. In a run play, the lineman will block a specific zone in the field or player. However, in a pass play, the lineman will do everything to prevent the defensive lineman from getting to the quarterback.

On the other hand, the job of a defensive lineman is to shed off blocks from ball carriers and offensive linemen. A defensive lineman is usually the first line of defense at the scrimmage line.

Defensive linemen are usually strong and big players. Simply put, a defensive lineman matches up with an offensive lineman. They’re crucial in pressuring the passer and containing the offense’s run.

As shown earlier, teams can have three or four defensive linemen on the scrimmage line, depending on the defensive formation. For example, a four-three defense sets four defensive linemen at the line of scrimmage. The four linemen use the defensive line to directly put pressure on the offense quarterback.

What Makes A Good Lineman

Not that you know who a lineman is in football and their roles; let’s see what makes a good lineman. Can any player play as a lineman? What are the physical attributes of a lineman?

opposing teams in american football wearing orange and green jerseys

Keep reading below.

Body Size

A good lineman requires a pretty big body size. When discussing body size, we consider the player’s height and weight. In addition, we also look at the overall muscle tone and body bulkiness.

There are no strict rules in the NFL regarding linemen’s body sizes. But the agreeable rule for linemen in the NFL is a weight of 300 pounds and a height of six feet and four inches.

Body size and height are important as linemen do a lot of tackling and shedding. A bigger body size is a must for defensive linemen that deal with a lot of tackling. To contain a run offense and press the quarterback, a defensive lineman requires a pretty big body size.

But is body size everything? Let’s dig deep and see more attributes that make a good lineman.


To be a good lineman, you need to be intelligent. Intelligence is important, especially for offensive linemen. A good lineman needs a good balance between football and classroom smartness.

Offensive linemen need a pretty good understanding of the game. This helps them make important calls. They can only do this if they’re intelligent.

While intelligence can’t be taught, film watching at all football levels is essential. It helps you understand your opponents well and how they react in different situations.

Watching films of opponents can help you find keys to assist them during the game. The same applies to defensive linemen that make crucial calls in the game.

Overall, a good understanding of football and how players align is essential. In addition, players need some levels of smartness to make key decisions in a game.

Work Ethics

No player succeeds as a lineman without a proper work ethic. Most scouts agree that work ethic is the first thing they look at when scouting offensive linemen.

While work ethic should apply to all positions in football, for an offensive lineman, it goes without saying. Some players do have a work ethic naturally, while others have to be taught. This is possible as players come from different backgrounds.

Overall, hard work helps players win games. It’s something every lineman needs if they’re to achieve their goals.


You’ve already seen many attributes that a lineman should possess. But nothing beats a lineman with good footwork. In most cases, a lineman is between a rusher and a passer. He can only achieve this with good footwork.

Generally, some of the linemen’s attributes can be negated if he has exceptional footwork. Some of the best pass-protectors in the NFL have the best footwork.

Great footwork simply means having a great foot, speed, and ability to adjust and maintain a good position on a fly.

football teams wearing white and black jerseys at the start of a football match

Any pass-protector needs to maintain good balance and avoid lunging at defenders. This requires maintaining a good and stable base. Doing so allows you to adjust and absorb any impact from the passer.

To illustrate the importance of good footwork, scouts overlook short arms when scouting as long as the player has good footwork. In theory, offensive players with longer arms can reach further than defensive linemen with shorter arms.

However, if an offensive lineman has shorter arms and good footwork, they can do the job well. It goes without saying that some of the best linemen out there have some of the best footwork.

What Positions Are Considered Lineman

Now that you have a clear understanding of what a lineman is in football let’s see the positions considered for a lineman. 

Below, I’ll do a breakdown of the different lineman positions in football.

Offensive Line

Offensive Tackle

An offensive tackle is the first position considered a lineman on the offense. He lines at the scrimmage line with the main responsibility of stopping the defensive ends.

On passing plays, offensive tackles help protect the quarterbacks. They help protect the blindside of the quarterback.

On the offensive line, you’ll find two offensive tackles. The two will line up against each other.


Guards are also considered linemen. They’re the interior offensive linemen. Guards help protect pass and run plays. However, their roles can change in passing plays. On passing plays, guards help block the defensive tackles from the opposing team.

They also help create holes in rushing plays. They’ll create holes in the defensive line for the running backs to run through.

At any given time, there are two guards on the pitch. There’s one guard on either side of the center.


The last position considered lineman position on the offense is the center. This is the last position on the offensive line. It’s a crucial position in any offense, responsible for snapping the ball and starting play.

Immediately after snapping the ball, a center takes the role of moving defensive tackles on rushing plays. They help protect the running back.

The center keeps defensive tackles on the outfield when teams are on a passing play.

american football player holding the football at the scrimmage line

Defensive Line

On the defensive line, two positions are considered to be linemen. These are:

Defensive End

The defensive end positions are considered linemen. These are players playing on the outside of the defensive line. Defensive ends take on quarterbacks and cause sacks.

They line up far outside to have more room from the offensive tackles. A defensive end is one of the best and highest-paid positions in football. They usually rush at quarterbacks and cause sacks.

However, their roles change on rushing plays where they help contain the runs. They do this in the backfield and ensure the running backs don’t get on the sideline.

At any given time, there are two defensive ends on the field. Each defensive end lines up on the end of the defensive line facing the offensive tackles.

Defensive Tackle

On the defensive line, the final position is the defensive tackle. It’s an important position where players plug holes in the running play.

Defensive tackles are usually the biggest players on the field. They’re positioned right in the center of the defensive line.

However, their roles change on passing plays where they rush to sack quarterbacks. They rush to the quarterbacks using the interior offensive line and prevent throws.

Best Defensive Lineman for 2022

The defensive lineman position is quite attractive and boasts some of the top players in the NFL. It’s pretty hard evaluating the best defensive linemen in the league.

In this section, I will name some of the best defensive linemen in 2022, according to CBS Sports. Check them out.

  • T.J Watt – Steelers
  • Myles Garret – Browns
  • Nick Bosa – 49ers
  • Maxx Crosby – Raiders
  • Von Miller – Bills
  • Cameron Jordan – Saints
  • Joey Bosa – Chargers
  • Trey – Hendrickson – Bengals
  • Robbert Quinn – Bears
  • Shaquil Barret – Buccaneers

How Important Is a Lineman in Football

The lineman position is quite important, whether on the offense or defense. For the offense, a lineman is the backbone and strength of the team. He makes important calls on the team’s offensive plays. The offensive lineman is in charge of making the play schemes.

women athlete playing american football

Undoubtedly, the offensive lineman is the key in football. Even teams with the best quarterbacks, fastest wide receivers, and tight ends can fail to score if they lack a good offensive lineman.

Offensive linemen are starters up front and play a key role in how the game goes. 

Take, for example, teams in league with the best offensive linemen and those with the worst offensive linemen; almost all teams with good offensive linemen made the playoffs.

The patterns from teams with good offensive linemen indicate that they usually win games. It just brings out the importance of a good lineman in football.

A Lineman in Football FAQs

Are Lineman and Linebacker The Same Thing?

A lineman and linebacker are different positions and players in a football game. They position differently and play different roles. Generally, linemen are bigger and heavier than linebackers.

On the line of scrimmage, linemen are the first line of defense, while the linebackers make the second line of defense.

Regarding size, linemen are bigger, averaging 324 pounds, while linebackers average 245 pounds.

Is Lineman A Hard Position In Football?

A lineman is a hard position in football. Linemen are usually the biggest and strongest players on the field. While it’s not the toughest position, their roles are still pretty difficult, and they get little credit.

How Many Linemen Are There In A Game

There are usually five offensive linemen in a game. The linemen are two tackles, two guards, and one center. They all play a crucial role in blocking defenses and protecting the player with the ball.


There you go! That’s all you need to know concerning a lineman in football. It goes without saying that a lineman is one of the most important positions in football.

A lineman in football lines on the line of scrimmage and is usually the first line of defense. There are the offensive linemen and defensive linemen depending on the team with the ball.

The team with the ball lines five offensive linemen at the scrimmage line, while the defending team lines three to four defensive linemen depending on the defensive formation.

Overall, a lineman position is important and requires players with good intelligence, agility, big body size, excellent footwork, and a good understanding of the game.

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