Why tall quarterbacks have an advantage in the NFL

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Tall quarterbacks have an advantage in the NFL for several reasons. The biggest reason they have an advantage is because being tall makes it easier for them to see over the defensive lineman. It should also be clear that just because you are small doesn’t mean that you can’t make it in the NFL. There are several short quarterbacks in the NFL such as Russell Wilson, who didn’t get picked until the third round are among the league’s best, but being tall does have it’s advantages. 

The biggest advantage is that tall quarterbacks can see over the huge defensive lineman and have a less of a chance of getting their ball knocked down. The next reason being tall helps as an NFL quarterback is because not only are you able to see over them, it also makes it easier to throw the ball over the head of defensive lineman and therefore are not as susceptible to having balls knocked down at the line of scrimmage. In a matter of fact, according to an article on a Wisconsin Fox Sports site, the average defensive lineman was 6’5, 310 pounds.

The reason taller quarterbacks would be less susceptible to having the ball knocked down at the line is because they don’t have to put as much trajectory on the ball to get it past the line. More often than not, defensive lineman who knock down passes at the line are close to the quarterback. So if a 6’4 quarterback it trying to throw a hail mary it is highly unlikely that he will have the ball knocked down. In addition, if you are taller and have longer legs that also means you can take longer step steps to evade pass rushers.

The bad news for short quarterbacks is the past dictates that NFL scouts take height into consideration when deciding who they are going to choose in the draft and in some cases, coaches even make decisions on height in terms of who they are going to start.

One of the more famous decisions when it comes to this issue was in the 1999 Music City Miracle game when Wade Phillips, who at the time was the coach of the Buffalo Bills chose Rob Johnson over Doug Flutie, who is 5’10 was passed over in his career by numerous NFL evaluators something that Flutie is still bitter about even to this day, according to an article on

Those of you that may not know, Flutie was one of the greatest quarterbacks in Patriots history for the better part of the 1980′s and also threw the hail mary pass that helped propel Boston College to a national championship in 1984.

While being short in the NFL does have some small disadvantages it is not impossible to be an elite, short quarterback in the NFL. Two quarterbacks who are short in the present day NFL that come to mind are Russell Wilson (5’10) and Drew Brees (6′). Brees won a super bowl in 2009 and has been among the league’s best in several passing categories over the last several seasons while Wilson is better known as one of the league’s rising stars for the Seattle Seahawks.

So what advantage do tall quarterbacks have? Two. They can see over the defensive lineman trying to maul them. NFL scouts are much more likely to pick them.


More about this author: Erich Heinlein