The average height of a male football player varies by position. Being taller or shorter can be either advantageous or disadvantageous, depending on the role. For some positions, the athlete’s weight is more important than his height. However, these players are usually taller because they are able to carry the extra mass while still retaining their agility and athleticism. As you might expect, the tallest football players are found in the National Football League.
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The average height of the 32 NFL starting quarterbacks as of the date of publication was 6 feet 3 inches, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com. Taller quarterbacks are able to see over their offensive lines to better locate open receivers on the field. Nevertheless, some shorter quarterbacks, including 6-foot Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints, have found a great deal of success.
Other Backs and Wide Receivers
Running backs, wide receivers, cornerbacks and safeties are the most athletic players on the field, and they range in height from 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet 2 inches. They must cover lots of ground, both on offense and defense. Taller running backs often are at a disadvantage due to a higher center of gravity. It is also much more difficult for them to run through the smaller openings. Tall wide receivers, however, such as 6-foot-5-inch Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions, make bigger targets and may reach high for passes.
Tight Ends and Linebackers
Tight ends are thinner and faster than other linemen, and bigger and often slower than wide receivers. It is not uncommon to find tight ends who are 6 feet 6 inches tall. Marcedes Lewis of the Jacksonville Jaguars is one example. Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers is a shorter and faster tight end, standing just 6 feet 3 inches tall. Linebackers, on the other hand, are similar in weight to tight ends but a bit shorter. For example, the San Diego Chargers' Larry English and the Houston Texans' Brian Cushing, measure 6 feet 2 inches and 6 feet 3 inches, respectively.
Defensive and Offensive Linemen
Linemen are the tallest, heaviest and strongest players on the field. For example, all of the 2013 Seattle Seahawks’ offensive linemen are between 6 feet 3 inches and 6 feet 7 inches tall, while all of the defensive linemen stand between 6 feet 1 inch and 6 feet 7 inches tall. While body weight and strength are more important than height for linemen, retaining the necessary mobility to effectively play these positions would be difficult at a short stature while weighing over 300 pounds, as most linemen do.
The height of college football players is comparable to their professional counterparts because the vast majority of males finish growing by the time they reach 21 years old. For example, the average height of the 2013 USC quarterbacks is 6 feet 3 inches. The average height among USC's running backs, cornerbacks, safeties and wide receivers is just over 5 feet 11 inches. The average heights of USC’s tight ends and linebackers are 6 feet 4 inches and 6 feet 1 inch, respectively, while their offensive and defensive linemen have average heights of 6 feet 5 inches and 6 feet 2 inches, respectfully.
Football players at the high school level normally vary greatly in height. Many have not finished growing, and age differences of one to two years between players are more telling of their height difference than for older football players. Only 10 players on Anaheim (California) High School’s 49-man football roster as of the fall of 2013 were 6 feet tall or taller.