Rocky Top Sports World

Which of the Defensive Positions in Football is Best for Your Young Athlete?

If your young athlete is preparing to embark on their football journey, you might be wondering which of the positions in football is ideal for them. We’ve already covered offensive positions in football, which means it’s time for defense! They say that defense wins championships, so without further ado, let’s explore the defensive positions in football and help your young athlete pick the role that’s right for them.

Defensive Lineman

defensive lineman

The defensive line helps to anchor the defense by applying pressures to the offensive line and attempting to either prevent run plays or get to the quarterback to prevent pass plays. Defensive linemen typically have a larger build, which allows them to gain leverage against the also large offensive linemen. Some of the top skills that are prized among defensive linemen are strength, the ability to effectively use leverage, and effective use of hands. Notable defensive linemen have included Fletcher Cox, J.J. Watt, and Aaron Donald.


Linebackers function as the middle of the defense, playing between the defensive line and the secondary. Linebackers are regularly tasked with a variety of defensive assignments, sometimes being deployed alongside defensive linemen to rush the quarterback or prevent run plays, and other times being sent to drop back into coverage. As a result, linebackers ideally possess a combination of strength and speed that allows them to rotate between these roles. Some notable linebackers have included Lawrence Taylor, Ray Lewis, and Brian Urlacher.


cornerback covering receiverCornerbacks are tasked with matching up against wide receivers and preventing pass plays, either by lining up directly against a specific receiver in man coverage, or by covering an area of the field in zone coverage. Since cornerbacks need to match up against the explosive speed of wide receivers, they will ideally possess explosive speed of their own as well as quick reaction times so that they can recognize and break up plays in split seconds. Some notable cornerbacks have included Deion Sanders, Richard Sherman, and Darrelle Revis.



Safeties are typically the players that are located the deepest in the defense and are responsible for providing help to other defensive players as needed, while ensuring that no plays can happen over the top of the defense. These are typically some of the most football-savvy players on the field, as they are often responsible for determining where they should be as a play unfolds. Additionally, because they are the deepest player on the field, a lapse in coverage from a safety can often result in an offensive score. Some notable safeties have included Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu, and Rodney Harrison.

Bonus — Special Teams

While we’ve now covered offensive and defensive positions in football, there is one more unit that is an important part of any football team — special teams! Let’s briefly explore these positions:


football kickerThe kicker is responsible for kicking off the ball to the other team at the beginning of each half and after scoring plays, as well as converting field goals and extra points. These players should ideally possess a combination of kicking power and accuracy, while also being able to stay cool under pressure. Some notable kickers have included Adam Vinatieri, Stephen Gostkowski, and Justin Tucker.


The punter plays a role similar to the kicker, however they kick the ball to the other team in the event that the offense does not convert a new set of downs and decides to send the ball away rather than risk turning it over on the spot. Like the kicker, the punter needs to have a good degree of kicking power combined with accuracy. Some notable punters have included Ray Guy, Johnny Hekker, and Sam Koch.

Now that you know more about the defensive positions in football, as well as special teams, you’re all set to help your young athlete decide which position is best suited to their skillset. Remember, plenty of successful players have switched positions multiple times, so there’s no need to worry if your child decides to make a change along the way. The most important thing is to have fun, after all. And if you’re looking for the perfect place to have your child’s next big football game, check out our state-of-the-art sporting complex.

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