Football Defensive Tackle

Football Defensive Tackle

Defensive Tackle

The defensive tackle (DT) in football is a player positioned on the line of scrimmage in the defensive line. Defensive tackles counter the offensive guards (G) and center (C) in the opposing team's offensive line.


Defensive tackles are positioned in the middle of the defensive line. Their main role is to rush the passer and stop any players that head toward the center of the line of scrimmage. The defensive tackle who lines up across from the ball, also called the nose tackle, is the core and leader of the defensive line. They will be the most important part of the defensive line when it comes to run-stopping.


Defensive tackles should be larger in size and excellent at tackling. They also should be strong enough to take hits, quick enough to avoid getting tackled, and agile enough to attack their own opponents.

Depending on the defensive formation, defensive tackles will be in charge of stopping runs through gaps in the offensive line. Most defensive formations have either one or two defensive tackles. If there are two defensive tackles, they will share the responsibility of stopping runs through gaps on either side. If there is only one defensive tackle, usually called a nose tackle, they alone will be responsible for stopping runs on both sides of the center.

Notable NFL Defensive Tackles

  • Aaron Donald
  • Alan Page
  • Bob Lilly
  • Buck Buchanan
  • Cortez Kennedy
  • “Mean” Joe Greene
  • Merlin Olsen
  • Randy White
  • Warren Sapp


What is a defensive tackle in football?

A defensive tackle is a type of player in football who serves as a blocker on the defensive line. They are typically positioned in the middle of the line of scrimmage and are sometimes also known as defensive guards. In many formats, defensive tackles are referred to by the abbreviation DT.

What does a defensive tackle do in football?

The main responsibility of a defensive tackle is to rush the passer and to stop any offensive player who heads towards the center of the line of scrimmage. For this reason, defensive tackles are thought of and set up as the opposite position of both the offensive guards and the center of an opposing team’s lineup.

What is a nose tackle?

A nose tackle is a specific type of defensive tackle who lines up directly across from the ball. The nose tackle is the leader and the core of the defensive line as they start at the center of action and attempt to jam up as many offensive players as possible. While a standard defensive tackle may switch positions around the line, a nose tackle always remains across from the ball.