This player receives the snap from the Center and executes the play. Quarterbacks have to have strong arms to pass, good eyes to see the field and read defenses, quick feet to scramble away from defensive players or run with the ball, good conditioning to absorb punishment from defensive players, and tenacity to not buckle under pressure.
Offensive Line or O-Line
The player who is in the middle (i.e., center) of the offensive line. This player hikes or snaps the football to the quarterback on the quarterback’s command (“hike hike”) to start each play. After the snap, the center then blocks defensive players to protect the quarterback so that the quarterback has enough time to set up a play.
A proper snap is critical to the execution of a play. If the center snaps the ball to a quarterback who is directly behind him/her, then the quarterback is closer to the defensive line and has less time to set up a play. If the center snaps the ball to a quarterback who is several yards behind him/her (for example in the “shotgun” formation), then the quarterback has more time to read the defense and figure out what play to execute. A “bad snap,” like when the ball hits the ground instead of going to the quarterback can result in all sorts of problems, most notably a “fumble,” and players will scramble to pick up the fumbled ball.
On each side of the center is an offensive guard.
Offensive Guard [G]
These players line up on either side of the center and are called left guard (left of center) and right guard (right of center), respectively. They are usually large in size (oftentimes weighing over 300 pounds) because their job is to (1) stand still and form a wall along with the center to protect the quarterback and buy him enough time to throw a pass (called pass blocking) or (2) use their brawn and skill to forge a path through the defense, knocking defensive players down, so that a runner can gain yards for the offensive (called run blocking). Run blocking requires a little more athletic ability and mobility than pass blocking.
On each side of the guards are offensive tackles.
Offensive Tackle [T]
These players line up outside each guard and are called left tackle (beside the left guard) and right tackle (beside the right guard). These players are usually big (over 300 pounds), tall (over 6 feet), and have long arms because their job is to keep any and all defensive players from getting around the end of the offensive line to attack the quarterback. These players are quick on their feet because they have to slide left, right, forward, or backwards to prevent the fastest or biggest defensive players from getting to the quarterback
Tight End [TE]
This player lines up just outside the Tackle, often the Right Tackle, on the O-line. The side that has the Tight End is called the strong side of the O-line because of the extra blocker. This player pulls double duty, serving as (1) an offensive linemen when blocking beside a Tackle, and (2) a receiver going out for passes. A Tight End needs to have the strength of a lineman and the agility and speed of a receiver.
Wide Receivers [WR]
These players line up on or near the line of scrimmage and use their speed, good hands, and skill to run routes and catch passes. One receiver lines up behind the line on the right and is called a Flanker. Some wide receivers are small and exceptionally fast, while others their height to catch passes over defenders.
Running Back [RB] and Full Back [FB or F]
These players line up in the backfield behind the quarterback. The Full Back is strong and oftentimes blocks for other running backs. The Running Back is has an incredible eye of the field and uses his speed and agility to cut across and through paths (forged by blockers) to advance the ball on run plays. Running backs also break open for passes from their quarterback.