The Offensive Tackle Position: An In-Depth Guide

Posted by Throw Deep Publishing Staff on

Offensive lineman are the steady force behind each successful offense. When things are going smoothly, the skill players will receive the glory, and an offensive lineman is just fine with that. On the flipside, the offensive line unit is quick to receive blame when things aren’t going so well for the offense.

What is an offensive tackle in football?
Their job is crucial, and is unquestionably one of the most important offensive football positions, yet slow to be glorified by outsiders. Perhaps none more so than the offensive tackle, who is tasked with being on an island against an opposing team's best pass rusher all game. Positioned at the end of the offensive line, they possess no exterior help from another offensive lineman, except for tight ends and running backs occasionally helping out.

Their duty in the run game is important, as they are tasked with blocking imposing defensive lineman, while also having the athleticism to work up to linebacker level blocking guys who are much quicker, and lower to the ground than they are. Possibly their biggest measure of success is winning their 1 on 1 pass blocking responsibilities to create a sound pocket for their quarterback to throw from.

Though they receive little praise from fans and outsiders, if you ask a quarterback, they will be quick to tell you the value and piece of mind that an offensive tackle provides both them, and an offense is astronomically important.

What does an Offensive Tackle Do?

If you had to ask an offensive tackle what they “do”, I’m almost certain that they would tell you that they have the task of blocking physical specimens all game, who are also much more athletic than they are. Blocking defensive lineman and linebackers demands a lot of athleticism, agility and coordination from an offensive tackle to line up snap after snap to execute their job.

What is an offensive tackle in football

It’s much harder than it sounds, but offensive tackles really only have 1 of 2 jobs on a given play, which is to execute either a run or a pass blocking scheme against the defense. Defensive coordinators work to ensure that their job isn’t as easy as it sounds, as defenses will show a variety of pre-snap looks, blitzes and movement forcing offensive tackles to possess a high-level of football IQ to find success. Behind every elite offense in the NFL is an offensive tackle, quietly but effectively doing their job to give the QB time to throw and creating solid running lanes for running backs to utilize.

Why is it called Offensive Tackle?

The name itself is tough to correlate to a job on the offensive side of the football, after all, it is the job of the defense to tackle! Looking back to the origination of football, a primary strategy of offenses was to run the ball to the outside. Due to this, the edge defenders were often tasked with tackling the ball carrier. For whatever reason, this verbiage carried forth on both sides of the ball, resulting in the “offensive tackle” name for the position.

Offensive tackles make up 2 of the 5 offensive lineman spots on offense. They consistently line up in the same spot the entire game, as the outermost lineman on both sides of the formation.

What are some other names for the Offensive Tackle?

Both OT and T are standard abbreviations for the offensive tackle position.

Below are some common nicknames for offensive tackles, and the offensive lineman unit as a whole.

Big Uglies

What are the Skills and Body Type needed to play the Offensive Tackle position?


Blocking Technique
Hand Placement
Functional Strength

Offensive tackles may appear big and slow, but they are far from it as their position demands a high level of functional athleticism at their weight. They must display elite footwork and physicality to find success in run and pass blocking.

Body Type:

(General estimate for NFL players at the position)

Height- 6’3-6’8
Weight- 300-340
Build- Thick

Offensive tackles are typically tall and lengthy players. Athleticism and lateral movement skills are a huge part of their job, and they are often considered offense's most talented lineman.

Who are some of the best Offensive Tackles ever?

Jonathan Ogden (1996-2007) - An 11-time Pro Bowl selection, and Super Bowl champion, Ogden had a dominant career spent entirely with the Baltimore Ravens.

Anthony Munoz (1980-1993) - A starting tackle for the Bengals for 13 seasons, Munoz is still viewed by some as the best offensive lineman to play the game. In 1998, shortly after his playing career, Munoz became a Pro Football Hall of Fame member

Joe Thomas(2007-2017) - While playing for a struggling Browns franchise his entire career, Thomas still managed to put together a fantastic individual career. He was selected to 10 straight pro bowls, and was one of the most durable players in the NFL, playing 10,363 snaps in a row before suffering an injury in his final season in the NFL.

Joe Thomas - What is an Offensive Tackle in Football

Why is the Offensive Tackle so important?

If you’ve ever taken a look at an NFL defensive end, you’ll quickly see why an offensive tackle is an essential piece of any offense. With modern defensive ends combining both length and speed, an offense must be able to depend on their offensive tackles to win the 1 on 1 matchup in both the run and the pass game.

Specifically, the left tackle is responsible for protecting the quarterback’s “blind side”, as his back is turned to the left side of the defense as he drops back to pass. Due to this, the left tackle is often thought of as a team’s most talented offensive lineman. Offensive tackles are often left on an island all game, and their role in allowing the quarterback to feel comfortable in the pocket, and create lanes for explosive plays in the run game is a huge asset for any offense looking to put points on the board.

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