What does IOL mean in football?

The acronym IOL in football refers to the position group of called the interior offensive line. An offensive line in football contains five players, the interior refers to the three middle positions of left guard , center, and right guard.

The acronym is often used on draft day when ranking guards and centers.

The interior offensive line plays a role in both pass protection and run blocking.

On pass coverage, these players are going to be responsible for stopping interior pressure from coming through the middle of the formation. This will generally come from DTs and MLBs.

The interior offensive lineman will have to get in front of blitzing defenders in order to keep the pocket clean. If they allow pressure up the middle there is a good chance the quarterback is going to be sacked.

On running plays IOLs are expected to create holes in the offensive line for the ball carrier to run through. This is done by physically moving the defensive lineman out of the way in order to create a gap.

Once the gap is open the ball carrier will run through it towards the opponent’s end zone.

Oftentimes the positions of offensive guard (OG) and center are going to be included together due to their similarities. The two guard positions have virtually no difference between them aside from the side they line up on.

And after snapping the football the center plays a very similar role to the guards in pass protection and in run blocking.

For this reason, these players are often considered interchangeable and are grouped together and referred to as the interior offensive line. When looking at prospects during the draft this term is often used as it encompasses players that could play any of the three positions.

Teams that are struggling with a lack of talent at left guard for example would look at all interior offensive lineman prospects in order to find a good player.

What Positions Makeup IOL?

Now you know that the acronym IOL stands for interior offensive line but what positions fit under this umbrella. Below we are going to break down each position that fits in the position grouping.


The center lines up right in the middle of the offensive line and is one of he positions that is included in the IOL. The center has the unique job of snapping the ball each down to start the play.

Once the ball is snapped the center will play like any other interior offensive lineman. In pass protection, they will be asked to block large defensive players such as defensive tackles.

Due to the size of the player sit is common that the IOL will double team defensive tackles on passing plays.

On rushing plays the center will again be facing off against the defensive tackle usually trying his best to push the defensive player backwards towards his own endzone.


The other two positions considered in the interior offensive line are the left guard and the right guard.

Unlike offensive tackle playing left or right guard does not change much in terms of responsibilities at the position.

Both guards will primarily block defensive tackles and blitzers on pass protection plays.

On rushing plays, these players will block defensive linemen as well as occasionally pulling from the formation and running downfield to block for the ball carrier.

That is all for IOL in football check out our guide to other position acronyms such as LS, OT, or SS.

1 thought on “What does IOL mean in football?”

  1. Thank you. I’m watching the draft and was trying to figure out what the “i” meant. Now I know thanks to your site


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