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Kinanthropometric Characteristic Comparisons of NCAA Division I Offensive and Defensive Linemen Spanning 8 Decades

Jacobson, Bert H.; Dawes, Jay; Smith, Doug; Johnson, Quincy.

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: December 2022 - Volume 36 - Issue 12 - p 3404-3408, doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000004179


To compare body mass and stature of OL and DL for each decade since 1950 and to subsequently compare speed using more recently available NFL Combine data to determine if the rates of gain have been consistent or declining.


Ten universities were randomly chosen from the “Power Five” conferences based on the prominence of their football programs. Recorded data included players' body mass, stature, and available 40 yd. times. For each team, 8 OL and 8 DL were chosen, totaling 80 OL and 80 DL.


Body mass increased significantly for both OL (57.9%) and DL (54.4%). However, the rate of weight gain for either OL or DL was not linear.

Both OL and DL consistently increased in height from 1950 with OL and DL increasing @ 5 in./12.7 cm and 4.7 in./11.4 cm, respectively.

40 yd. times have improved over the 3 available decades (2000–2020). The 2020 times were significantly faster than the 2000 for both OL and DL.

These findings may have profound implications related to player safety. The overall increases in body mass of linemen in combination with greater speed may result in devastating consequences to the human body in a contact/collision sport such as football. Indeed, new rules are being considered to reduce debilitating injures.


Due to improvement in training methods, more focus on proper dietary intake, and a likely natural increase in phenotypes over generations, football OL and DL players have become larger, stronger, and faster. As a results, more force is produced in competition (harder hits, greater speed of movement) which can lead to an increased risk of injury. ON THAT, YEARS AGO I WROTE (BREAKINGMUSCLE.COM) ABOUT FOOTBALL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT HAVING DECREASED IN SIZE AND WEIGHT WHICH FURTHER ADDS TO THE FORCE/SPEED INJURY POTENTIAL FACTOR.

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