What is a lineman in football?

A lineman in football refers to a player that plays on the offensive or defensive line. Lineman are typically the largest and heaviest players on the football field. On any given play there are going to be five offensive linemen on the field and anywhere from three to four defensive linemen.

Lineman on both sides of the ball play in an area of the field referred to as the trenches. These players line up right on the line of scrimmage and face off against one another once the ball is snapped.

Offensive linemen look to protect the quarterback on passing plays or block for the ball carrier on rushing plays. While defensive linemen aim to tackle the quarterback on passing plays and bring down the ball carrier on rushing plays.

What positions are considered lineman

Now that you know what a lineman is in football you may be wondering which positions make up these players. Below we will break down all of the positions in the offensive and defensive line.

Offensive Line

Offensive Tackle

The offensive tackle position lines up at the end of the offensive line and has the primary purpose of stopping defensive ends. These players are primarily valued for their ability to protect the quarterback on passing plays.

Offensive tackles are also known for their job of protecting the quarterback’s blindside. This is the side of the field the quarterback cannot see an makes the left tackle position very valuable.

There are two offensive tackles on the offensive line with one lining up at each end.


Guards in football are interior offensive linemen and play a role in pass protection and run blocking.

On passing plays guards will usually have the responsibility of blocking the opposing team’s defensive tackles. Oftentimes the guard and the center will work together to double team block these players.

On rushing plays guards will look to create holes in the defensive line for the running back to go through.

There are two guards on the field one being on either end of the center.


The center is the final position in the offensive line. This position is unique because they are responsible for snapping the ball to start each play.

After the center snaps the ball they have very similar role to the center. On rushing plays, they will look to move defensive tackles out of the way of the running back.

While on passing plays they will look to keep the defensive tackles out of the backfield.

Defensive Line

Defensive End

These are the players on the outside of the defensive line who are most responsible for rushing the quarterback. Since these players line up on the end of the defensieve line they often have more room to beat the offensive tackle.

Defensive ends usually lead their team in sacks and are often one of the highest paid players on the defense.

On rushing plays defensive ends typically look to contain the running back in the backfield not allowing him to get outside to the sideline.

There are generally two defensive ends on the field with one lining up on either end of the defensive line.

Defensive tackle

The final position on the defensive line is the defensive tackle. Defensive tackles are the largest players on the defense and line up right in the middle of the defensive line.

These players use their large size to plug holes in the run game making it difficult for the running back to hit his hole.

On passing plays, defensive tackles will look to rush the quarterback through the interior of the offensive line.

That is all on lineman in football, if you want more detail on these positions check our other guides such as what is an offensive lineman or what is a defensive lineman.

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