NFL Defensive Tackle

Last Updated:
September 19, 2023

Job Description Overview

As an NFL Defensive Tackle, your mission is to stop the opponent's running game and pressure the quarterback. You will be part of a team that works together to keep the opposing team from scoring. You'll need to have the strength to push through offensive linemen and the agility to quickly change direction to make a tackle. 

Your role is key in making sure the defense holds strong and outplays the opponents. You’ll analyze game footage and evaluate the opposing team’s strengths and weaknesses. You’ll work with your teammates to perfect your game plans and strategies. During games, you'll need to quickly adapt to changing situations and make split-second decisions to make sure you make the play.

To succeed as an NFL Defensive Tackle, you’ll need to have excellent communication skills, be coachable, and have a passion for the game. This job requires a deep understanding of the sport and the ability to work under pressure. If you’ve got what it takes, this could be the perfect job for you.

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Job Duties and Responsibilities

  • Start with a stance and read the offense to anticipate the play
  • Quickly assess whether to push forward to tackle the ball carrier or to deflect and block the offensive line
  • Beat the offensive lineman with speed and power to penetrate the line of scrimmage
  • Keep the offense from running up the middle by clogging gaps and disrupting plays
  • Communicate with other defensive players to make adjustments based on changes in the offense
  • Provide pass rush by taking advantage of one-on-one matchups and using quick push-pull moves and spin moves
  • Stay low to maintain leverage and keep offensive linemen from pushing them back
  • Maintain gap integrity by being disciplined in their alignment and responsibilities
  • Control the line of scrimmage by standing their ground and filling gaps to stop the run game.

Experience and Education Requirements

To become an NFL Defensive Tackle, you need to have both education and experience. Most potential players must have a high school diploma or equivalent and have played football in high school. After high school, players can attend college for football training, and a bachelor's degree can be helpful. It will enhance their chances of playing in the NFL, but it's not mandatory. Prospective players may also attend the NFL Combine to showcase their skills. The Defensive Tackle position requires a specific set of skills, including strength, agility, and the ability to read the opposing team's plays. Gaining experience with a professional football team or training in a college program can help players achieve a successful NFL career as a Defensive Tackle.

Salary Range

Are you curious about the salary range for an NFL defensive tackle? The answer varies based on experience, performance, and team location. As of 2021, the median salary for a defensive tackle in the United States is around $3 million, with top performers making over $10 million per year. In other countries, such as Canada, CFL players, including defensive tackles, can make an average of $80,000-100,000 per year. While this range may seem high, NFL players, including defensive tackles, have a short career span, with an average of only 3.3 years. So, the salary earned during their NFL career must last throughout their lifetime. 



Career Outlook

If you're considering a career as an NFL defensive tackle, you'll be glad to know that the outlook is promising for the next five years. Despite COVID-19 and its impact on live sports, sponsorship deals, and ticket sales, the NFL is still a booming industry. In the last year, the NFL has signed new broadcasting deals worth billions, which indicates continued growth. Moreover, the defensive tackle position is always in demand because of how vital it is in stopping the opposing team. In 2021, Aaron Donald of the LA Rams became the highest-paid defensive tackle in history at $135 million over six years. So, if you're willing to put in the work, the prospects are bright for a career as an NFL defensive tackle.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What does a NFL defensive tackle do?

A: NFL Defensive Tackle is a position in American football responsible for stopping the opponent's running game and rushing the quarterback by rushing through the offensive line.

Q: How does a Defensive Tackle differ from other positions?

A: Defensive Tackle plays a critical role in stopping the run game, occupying blockers, and plugging gaps in the offensive line. They require strength, size, and agility to maneuver through blockers.

Q: What skills does someone need to become a successful Defensive Tackle?

A: A successful Defensive Tackle must have exceptional strength, agility, speed, and quick reflexes. They also need to have an instinctive understanding of the game and excellent decision-making skills.

Q: What are some challenges commonly faced by NFL Defensive Tackles?

A: NFL Defensive Tackles have to face a variety of challenges, including the size and strength of opposing linemen, injuries, and constantly changing game strategies.

Q: How can someone become an NFL Defensive Tackle?

A: Becoming an NFL Defensive Tackle requires a combination of natural talent, dedication, and hard work. It's important to train consistently, participate in high school and college football teams, and attend Pro Days and the NFL Combine to showcase your skills.

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