A player on the offense who is part of the offensive line. The offensive linemen can play one of three positions: center, guard or tackle. An offensive lineman is usually among the largest players on the team. The linemen are responsible for blocking the defensive players to allow the offensive skill position players to gain yardage and score touchdowns without being tackled by the defense. On pass plays, the five offensive linemen will make a barrier around the quarterback to give him time to complete a pass.
Offensive linemen are an essential component of an effective offense. The linemen must be able to keep the defense from reaching the quarterback or running backs so that they can run the plays and gain yardage. The linemen will do that by blocking the defenders in particular directions to try and open gaps in the defense that the offense can exploit. Linemen are the largest players on the team as a premium is placed on strength and toughness, but linemen must also have the athleticism to get out in space and make blocks downfield.