Football Positions Ranked By Importance
All of the positions in football are important in their own way. One thing that's important for new fans to remember is not to get too caught up on who has the ball. Players can play a big part in the game without touching the ball, and players such as running backs aren't as important as new fans might think.
A ranking of the positions is subject to personal opinions and could easily be argued. Also, each team operates differently, meaning certain positions are more important to some teams than others. With that said, below is a general ranking of position by its importance to the success of the team as a whole.
1. Quarterback (Offense)
The QB is required to handle the ball and make decisions every single play. On passing plays, the quarterback has to deliver the ball perfectly to his receiver. A slight imperfection will not just impede the success of his offense, but could lead to an interception and possibly a pick six.
2. Left Tackle (Offense)
The left tackle has the role of protecting the quarterback's blind side from the defense's best pass rusher. The defense will put their best pass rusher on this side because they can sneak up on the quarterback's blind side, giving them a good chance for a sack or deflection.
3. Center (Offense)
The center is the only other position besides quarterback to handle the football every play. The center is also responsible for making reads on the defense and calling blocking schemes. A center's vision and football IQ is what makes him a crucial piece in the offense. If the blocking is way off, you can often blame the center for the reads he made at the line.
4. Middle Linebacker (Defense)
5. Safety (Defense)
The safety is not only responsible for multiple assignments in the passing game defense, but also is tasked with support in run defense. Also, safeties are typically the last line of defense on long pass plays. This means any mistakes they make will be amplified.
6. Defensive End (Defense)
A good pass rush is the key to a good defense, and the DE is the muscle of a good rush. Defensive ends must put pressure on the quarterback, otherwise the most talented offensive player will have ample time to get off a good pass.
7. Wide Receiver (Offense)
A quarterback needs weapons to throw to if the offense wants to generate yardage. Wide receivers run routes and catch passes. They are often some of the biggest names on the field since they are involved on the big plays. However, the offensive line and quarterback have to do their jobs to even give the wide receivers a chance.
8. Tight End (Offense)
The tight end is a bit of a modified receiver. While these bulky players will sometimes go out to catch a pass, they are also responsible for blocking on most plays. A good tight end can give an offense extra options.
9. Cornerback (Defense)
Cornerbacks are nimble, athletic defense players that cover the offense's wide receivers. A bad cornerback is a huge problem for a defense, as he will get exposed throughout the night. A good cornerback can take away an offense's best wide receiver.
10. Running Back (Offense)
The running back used to be far more important than it is in today's modern game. Passing has become much more prevalent, and teams often use a 'running back by committee' approach. This is a position that ranges in value from team to team. Ezekiel Elliott, for example, is one of if not the most important players on the Cowboys. Having a successful running back can define an offense.
11. Outside Linebacker (Defense)
The outside linebacker plays behind the defensive line. Their roles include covering tight ends and shutting down or containing the run game. They are ranked a bit lower since they aren't implemented on every play.
12. Right Tackle (Offense)
The right tackle has all the same jobs as the left tackle, but is much less important because he is not on the quarterback's blind side. This gives him a bit more room for error, and he also will draw weaker matchups than the important left tackle.
13. Left Guard (Offense)
The left guard is on the blind side of the offensive line. They don't have to take on the highly skilled pass rushers like offensive tackles do, but they are tasked with stopping 300+ pound defenders! This position requires a lot of strength.
14. Right Guard (Offense)
The right guard has the same job as the left guard. However, he's slightly less important since he is not on the blind side.
15. Kicker (Special Teams Offense)
A game can come down to a place kicker's ability to hit a clutch field goal. However, this is unlikely. While kickers can make a break a season on one play, throughout the season they are not nearly as useful as others because they take part in so few plays. Kickers are also thought of as fairly replaceable.
16. Punter (Special Teams Kicking Team)
17. Returner (Special Teams Return Team)
18. Long Snapper (Offensive Special Teams)
Long Snappers take over for the center on a field goal attempt or a punt. A Long Snapper's success is mostly defined by getting the ball to the punter or holder successfully. Similar to a punter, a long snapper has much more of a chance to lose you the game than win you the game. An errant snap could give your opponent free points!