Lineman. Some of the most special players on the football field. Unsung in so many cases, they are often overlooked. Reliable, strong, and willing to sacrifice for the team, they have a ton of weight placed upon their shoulders. Though defensive lineman spots, especially the defensive ends have become increasingly popular and well known in today’s game, the offensive lineman remains very quiet. Defensive tackles do as well, but that does not mean the positions are not valued. In fact, it’s the opposite. Because of just how important and understated they are, it’s easy to overlook their footwear. Today, we will be taking a look at the best cleats on the market for lineman. We’ll answer your questions in our buying guide, and then we will review the most popular pairs currently available to help you make the best decision to protect yourself or the one you are close to.
Top Lineman Cleats Comparison Chart
|1. Adidas Freak Mid MD||Mid Top||Adult & Youth||$$$|
|2. Adidas Adizero 5-Star 7.0||Low Top||Adult||$$$4|
|3. Nike Alpha Pro 2||Mid Top||Adult||$$$$|
|4. Under Armour Speedform MC||Low Top||Adult||$$$|
|5. Under Armour Highlight MC||High Top||Adult & Youth||$$$$|
|6. Nike Vapor Untouchable Pro 3||Mid Top||Adult||$$$$|
|7. Nike Vapor Carbon Elite TD||Low Top||Adult & Youth||$$$$|
|8. Under Armour Men’s UA Spotlight||Mid Top||Adult & Youth||$$|
Lineman Football Cleat Buying Guide
Why Are The Cleats Different?
Let’s think about what a lineman is asked to do. In most cases, they are asked to basically push around another human being. Whether they are on the offensive side or the defensive side, this is basically the case. You are either trying to push your man back or to the side so that your team can run or pass the ball, or you are attempting to push your man away and then get to the quarterback. In some cases, it might be slightly different, but that is the crux of it. With all of that pressure to you, you have to have good footwear. Not all cleats are created equal, and they definitely are not all made to be the same. Some are for smaller, quicker players. These cleats offer less protection. A lineman needs a good cleat that protects him just in case he might fall or get pushed onto someone else. While cleats can never prevent an injury, they can certainly go a long way toward helping them occur.
The Three Types of ‘Cuts’
Low Top Cleats
The cuts of your cleats is one of the most important factors when you are shopping for any football cleat, but it is even more crucial in regards to lineman. First and foremost, you have the low cut cleat. This is basically a low top sneaker that has a cleat on the bottom of it. This cut emphasizes speed, flexibility, and quickness. They don’t offer much in the way of support because of those things, so it is easier to roll an ankle or to get stepped on and get a toe injury or something similar. This type is by no means a bad cleat, but it’s just not going to be the right answer for a lineman to wear.
High Top Cleats
The second type is the high cut. Think about a basketball shoe that has a high top. These are made with full protection in mind. They support the ankle a ton, locking you in and making you feel secure. You do lose flexibility and can’t move around nearly as well, for sure, but they have more overall protection so you don’t get hurt. In most cases, this is going to be the type of cleat you want. There are some exceptions for lineman, like the aforementioned defensive ends, but if you are on the offensive side of the ball, unless you run the option, or you are a defensive tackle, you’ll most likely want to turn to this type.
Mid Top Cleats
The third type is a hybrid of the two, if you will. These are known as mid tops. These seek to give you the best of both worlds by giving you some ankle protection to keep you from rolling them over while also giving you some flexibility as well. They are much lighter most of the time that high cuts but are heavier than the low cut, too, meaning they are a good mix. Usually, this type is worn by running backs because it helps them move quickly but also keeps them safe. However, if you are a speedy rusher on the defensive line, this could be an option for you. If you have ever had ankle issues, it would be wise to pick the high cut, but if you want a bit of a speed advantage as you look to sack the passer, then a mid cut could be your way of getting just that.
One thing you just have to realize and accept is that you can’t have it all with cleats. Technology has come a long, long way and the shoe companies are doing a good job at making shoes as light as they can to retain the same amount of protection. But they are not miracle workers. In general, the more protection you have, the heavier the shoe will be. You are just going to have to accept the extra weight, unless you want to go out there with a glorified soccer cleat and end up with all kinds of injuries. So just be wise and keep this in mind!
Two General Types of Football Lineman Cleats
Molded Plastic Cleats
The cleats themselves are located on the bottom of course, and this is what makes the shoes into cleats. There are two main types that you will find on the soles of football cleats: detachable and molded. Molded cleats are mostly made from rubber, and they are mass produced and fitted to your shoe already. This means you don’t have to worry about changing them, and that they are great for kids. If you ever have one break, though, you will have to buy a new pair of cleats, unless you want to be walking around lopsided, which is not encouraged. The other type is detachable, and those types are very hard and screwed in by the wearer themselves. This way, you can change the type of cleat depending upon the weather and the type of surface you are on. You might find yourself playing on a wet field, or maybe a field hasn’t seen rain in two months. The two conditions are very different. On the wet field you’d want a longer cleat to help give you traction, while on the hard field, you’d want a shorter cleat to help dig in.
Detachable & Adjustable Studs
Detachable cleats give you the chance to change them to your liking, but they do take some time to mess with. You, or someone else, will have to change them, and that means tightening a few studs into place on each shoe, which can get quite time consuming. Detachable ones are also a little bit more expensive than rubber ones. You might find some that come with a kit, but if you don’t then you’ll be buying the cleats to change into, making them even more costly. Also, detachable ones are going to give you by far the best grip out of the two, largely because you can change them to suit your needs in any conditions. You just can’t do that with molded cleats as they are what they are. You can’t ask for them to be great in the wet or on super hard surfaces because they are probably going to be made for just a middle ground. Keep that in mind as you weigh your options.
Cleat & Foot Sizing
This section is incredibly important. No one wants to be uncomfortable on the gridiron, and that has to be even more the case when you are playing on the line. It’s already a dangerous position and you don’t have a ton of fun, but when you take comfort out of it, you’ll go crazy. We suggest that you go to a store and try on cleats. This will give you an idea of what you like.
You can always go online and buy the one you liked, and even if you don’t find the perfect pair, you will have a grasp of how each one fits on you. Make sure that you don’t go in the morning or after a lot of down time as you will have no swelling of the feet, which is going to happen as you play. Also, you might want to take the socks that you play in along with you. This will help you get a feel. Usually people forget that the thickness of those socks is much greater than the thickness of regular socks, and they then make a mistake in their size as a result.
Finding the Right Fit for Comfort & Performance
When trying on shoes, always make sure you’ve got some wiggle room between your toes and the end of the shoes. If you don’t have that when you are just sitting around cold, you are never, ever going to have it when you are playing and have your feet swollen. Also, make sure the width is to your liking. Some companies are notoriously poor for those that have wide feet, so you may have to make an adjustment on size. Be careful doing this, though, so that you don’t mess up the length. The temptation will be to go from a narrow size 12 (your ‘perfect’ length) to a 12.5. However, if this throws off the length, you might find yourself sliding inside of the cleats. We don’t suggest you be cramped up with your toes, but you definitely do not need to be slipping, either. If you can’t find an adequate solution, it’s best that you just go on to a new shoe entirely. Too big or small is not good, you’ve just got to find that sweet spot. Hopefully this helps you do just that.
Closely related to sizing is breaking in your cleats. Remember, if they don’t fit well to begin with, they never will. Breaking in cleats does not mean they just magically mold to your foot. Instead, breaking them in just means getting the stiffness and rigidity out of them. You can do this a little bit at a time, and that is the smartest way of doing it. Instead of just wearing them to practice or a game right out of the box, thus hurting you feet, wear them outside a little bit. Take a walk with them on, or a light run, and just work them into use. Don’t go too quickly, as they could end up hurting you feet. Some take longer than others to break in, so be ready to exercise patience just in case they seem to be a little bit needy, if you will.
Choosing Youth Cleats
Lastly, if you are a parent, you should know that buying large so that your child can grow into them is not such a good idea. This seems like a tempting move to save money, but at the end of the day, cleats don’t cost all that much, especially the ones that have molded cleats on the bottoms. Because of that, you can find a good pair that is pretty inexpensive. You shouldn’t have to be cramming their feet in their for a second season or making them suffer by having them wear cleats that are too big. You can avoid that by simply getting them a properly sized pair of cleats. In all likelihood, they won’t be able to wear them anyway for two seasons in a row, unless they have stopped growing, so just save yourself some time and the trouble by sizing them correctly. You won’t have to hear complaints from them nearly as often, trust me! It’s well worth the money.
Best Football Cleats for Lineman Reviews
Under Armour Highlight Mc Football
Coming in at #1 on the list is a high cut pair of cleats that will keep you and your ankle very happy. While it does that, it will also look great, coming in a number of colors to pick from with a great design that can help you either stand out or match the rest of the team. In addition to that, they are quite affordable as well, making them a great pick up if you are in need of a reliable pair on the cheap. The shoes use both synthetics and mesh in the upper to give you durability and some breathability as well, which is needed if you are on the line as you don’t want to accumulate weight from sweating too much.
The boot secures your ankle and locks you in snugly, with the tongue molding to your foot and helping to give you more comfort and a better all around fit as well. The use of SuperFoam in the insole means that you are able to have comfort and have those tough shocks absorbed. This is an understated need, but you do want some of that as you play as it can be tough to do the same things repeatedly without feeling stress and strain to the feet. The plate the cleats are on is made from TPU, which makes them very durable and stable, increasing the positives of this shoe. Just know they are a little heavier and less freeing than others, but that is to be expected with the position.
- Great style and colors
- Snug and comfy fit
- Shocks get absorbed
- Boot up higher than most high cuts
- Little bit heavy
Adidas Freak X Carbon High Cleats
It’s a new day in the world of cleats, and whereas the Highlight Mc was a huge and old school traditional high cut, the Freak X Carbon is not. This could either be a good or bad thing for you. First things first, it doesn’t come up as high as the UA offering. However, it still offers quite a bit of support for the ankle, thus you are going to be a little bit more flexible inside of them, which could be a big boost to you if you are someone that likes to move around a bit. Secondly, they are going to lighter. Both the smaller length and the fact they are made from carbon help boost this reduction in weight. They have done this thanks in part as well to the Sprintskin technology they have created, which is essentially laminated support. It cuts down the weight and also gives a good amount of support to the wearer. One thing to be cautious of with these is that they are made from just about purely synthetics. They do claim to use some mesh, but it is hard to see where it is, so take that with a grain of salt. They could be hot, but that could help in colder temps. By using a heel cup in the back of the foot, they help keep your foot more secure than most out there, allowing the rest of the foot to move around a little bit, unlike a lot of other types of cleats. Just know these are going to be quite as protective because they are lighter as well as possibly being warmer to wear.
- More flexibility
- Lighter weight and more freedom given
- Heel cup locks you in
- Lighter means less protection
- Not a lot of visible mesh
Nike Men’s Force Savage Elite TD
Coming in a few traditional colors and one that stands out (a yellow one), the Force Savage gets its Elite name from the fact that it uses some of Nike’s trademark patents to a plumb. First of all, the use of the Flywire cables is instrumental in the way the shoe fits, feels, and performs. By using this system of lacing, it takes the pressure off of the forefoot area and broadens it out to take the load away.
On top of that, Nike has used its Lunarlon foam in the midsole area to give you cushioning from the shocks you will experience. The high cut also keeps the ankle in place and protected, but it does so while looking incredibly stylish and well maintained. The cleats themselves are molded on and are configured in a way to give you good traction both from side to side and up and down as you push and pull your man.
Use of synthetics is prevalent and it is also hard to spot mesh on these, so you will have to be ready for a lack of ventilation for those warmer days. The to has a lot of rubber around it to protect you in the event of being kicked or stepped on, too, increasing the protection you get from them. The shoes are a little tough to clean and do take quite a beating after a while, so keep that in mind.
- Flywire spreads the pressure out evenly
- Very stylish cleats
- Toe guards do a great job
- Wear and tear issues after consistent use
- Tough to get to come clean
Under Armour Men’s Hammer Detachable
If you really want to stick with Under Armour but you don’t like the Highlight Mc or think that it is too much protection and not freeing enough for you, then the Hammer is a good choice for you. The Hammer is a mid top, though I’d say it is between a mid and high, and offers a lot of protection to the wearer without locking you down and making you feel trapped like the Highlight would for some.
The SuperFoam compound has been used in these as well, giving you excellent amounts of comfort and the ability to have those shocks absorbed, which are numerous and add up quickly. The insole has a sleeve that helps you to fit into them and allows you to cut without moving around inside. These are made from synthetics, but a lot of mesh is present in them to help you air out and get less sweaty, helping you to move better and a little bit quicker in the game.
The mesh has been reinforced, so you don’t have to worry about it tearing easily, which some mesh does, unfortunately. Perhaps the biggest selling point for these is that they have detachable cleats. So many cleats are now molded, so it is nice to have options. You can chop and change whenever you like to match the conditions on the field. One strike against this pair is that they have a lack of colors to pick from. Another is that, of course, they don’t have as much protection as a high cut!
- Good for D-ends
- Very breathable
- Cleats can be changed whenever you like
- Not as much support as full on high cuts
- Not many colors to choose from
Adidas Men’s Freak X Carbon Mid Football
If you want to be freaky fast out on the field and don’t want to be weighed down as much by the Freak X Carbon High, then the Mid could be the answer for you. This would be best suited for guys that are quick and rush off the edge, or maybe even for offensive lineman who play in an option or spread scheme that are smaller. These won’t give you as much protection as the high, for obvious reasons, but they still do a good job at keeping you reasonably protected.
They have the heel cup and the Sprintskin as before, helping to lock you in and doing so without the additional weight that cleats of old would have had. The EVA insole is great because it molds to your specific foot and does not irritate you, allowing for maximum comfort to ensue. The colors of the shoe are awesome and very flashy, allowing you to stand out or blend in the with team, so that is a major bonus that you get with them.
Some users have complained that the ankle area feels loose on them, and a likely explanation for this would be because it’s not as high as others. They are also pretty stiff, due to the synthetics, so that is something to watch out for. Even after breaking them in, which could take a bit of time they won’t be the easiest to wear.
- Very agile cleats
- Good for pass rushers
- Very flashy looks
- Ankle is a little loose
- Breaking in can be hard
Adidas Performance Men’s Crazyquick 2.0 Mid
Coming in right after the Freak X mid is another mid from Adidas, the Crazyquick. The Crazyquick is one of the newer generation of shoes that has a totally different look to it. Because of that, you’re either going to love them or just despise them. This mid cut has the new bootie design that so many are going with. This means the tongue is up above the heel.
Again, this can be a good thing or a bad thing for you, and it just depends on your preferences. The plate itself houses what they call sprintstuds and quickstuds to help you make the quickest of cuts. Obviously, if you are a bigger player, have had injuries, or are not a defensive end or quick o-lineman, you might want to avoid these because they do have a little less protection.
However, if you need a versatile cleat for multiple surface types and are a defensive end that wants to get to the quarterback, then this could be the perfect pair for you. They do run a little bit narrow, so you need to watch out for that. They also run small overall, so you might want to look at a different style of cleat if you need a better fit or are buying online and don’t want to just guess at it.
- Modern styling
- Good for quick cuts
- Great for defensive ends
- Not as much protection
- Runs narrow
- Also runs small
Nike Air Zoom Super Bad 3 TD Men’s Football
A third mid cut cleat in a row, the Nike Super Bad 3 TD is one that will help out those quicker players that don’t want all that bulk holding them back. Using Nike’s phylon technology in the midsole, they are able to be well cushioned and comfortable without being heavy. These look unique and are supportive and durable due to the way they have positioned the synthetics to help in those regards.
The plate on the bottom uses Pebax and has 12 cleats that are configured to give you variable control on a number of different types of ground. The toe cleats help you to push off better out of your stance to make you more explosive and powerful. The heel even has a cleat there to further aid in this endeavor. Like the previous two, these are probably best for smaller and quicker lineman that don’t need as much protection.
If you’re in the interior, it’s probably not the best choice. The inner sleeve of these cleats has a strap included that you can adjust for your ankle to help make up for some of the lack of weight that they have to them. The thing to watch out for, besides the lack of protection from them in relation to others is the fact that they are quite stiff. Synthetics can be that way sometimes, and with these it can take a little while to get them broke in to wear they feel right on you.
- Very durable cleats
- Cleat in front and rear for quick stops and starts
- Adjustable strap for ankle
- Tough to get broken in due to stiffness
- Not as much protection as high cuts
Nike Men’s Alpha Shark 2 Three-Quarter Wide Cleat
If you find yourself in the dilemma of not being able to find shoes that are wide enough for you, then this could be just the answer for you. The Alpha Shark doesn’t come in a ton of colors and he style is a little bland, but honestly doesn’t that fit right in with the attitude of a lineman: always ready to serve without recognition? Much like the newer models that companies are moving toward, this pair of cleats has the tongue up above the heel, meaning it is a mid cut.
Some people claim that they are easier to get on, some do not, so that is still up in the air as to whether or not it helps with that aspect. While you don’t get quite as much support as the full high cut cleats, you do get a lot of support going laterally due to the three quarter collar in the back. They also do a very good job with the dynamic fit system that give you excellent lockdown to stabilize you and keep you up on your feet.
The cleats are molded on and the tops are made from synthetics. The cleats look very stiff, so the combination with the upper means this will be a little stiff to wear, so be prepared. The problem that you might have with these is that they are not wide enough for very wide footed people. Nike usually runs narrow, so wide to them isn’t as wide as you might expect or need.
- Good lateral support
- Locks you down excellently
- Durable all around
- Going to be stiff
- Not as wide as you’d like for them to be
Nike Men’s Lunarbeast Pro TD Football
Nike continues to run the table here with their Lunarbeast, which is yet another example of the fresh changes seen in the industry. Once again, the tongue rises up above the heel to give you a midcut. The difference with this pair is that they use the old hook and strap method. What this does is double down on your stability by giving you something more than just the ordinary laces you usually see.
In the area where the heel fits in to the shoe, they use the Phylon compound which makes them cushy and also allows you to be responsive and quick off the mark. Sometimes, too much cushioning sees you sink down and makes you unable to get off the mark in a hurry. These do not do that. The looks are excellent and shiny thanks to the synthetics used, and they come in a ton of colors to pick from.
The synthetics are going to make them durable, but it is hard to see where ventilation is going to come from for you. Some users have found the heel device to hurt them, while many find that these shoes run small and have to size up. You also might have to take your time breaking them in.
- Lots of colors to pick from
- Phylon is cushy yet responsive
- Hook and loop gives extra stability
- Stiff and difficult to get used to
- Runs small
- Heel area is painful for some
Nike Men’s Zoom Merciless Pro Shark PF Turf Cleats
Nike rounds out our list after running the table late on with their Merciless Pro Shark. These shoes are made specifically for turf, so if your team practices or plays on it, it could be worth your while to buy these, especially since they are a pretty low price. They will help you get through those games as best they can by giving you the grip you need out there.
Apart from that, there isn’t much difference between them and the Alpha Sharks earlier. They, too are ¾ height and a mid cut, so they won’t give interior lineman as much to go by. But they still have a Phylon midsole that keeps you stable and gives you cushioning, while also using rubber soles to give you exquisite grip on the turf. One other thing to watch out for is that they do wear out after a ton of use, so watch for that to occur.
- Great on turf
- Good price
- Phylon midsole is versatile
- Not a ton of ankle support for the big boys
- Not extremely durable
Conclusion & Final Recommendations for Adult & Youth Lineman Cleats
When it comes down to it, picking out a pair of cleats to play on the line comes down to personal preference. If you find yourself being a quick player on the edges that hasn’t had injuries before and want a little extra speed and less bulk, then you can go with a mid cut. However, if you are bigger, or have had injuries, then you might want to make sure to have a high cut. With so many options out there today, and the market trending toward the mid cut more and more, it can be tough to find the high cut. But after today, you know where to look for if you need the utmost in protection. If not, enjoy your additional speed!
FAQ’s About Best Football Cleats for Lineman
Are Soccer Cleats OK to Wear?
Unless you are a kicker, the answer to this question is a big no. For one, the traction isn’t quite as good at allowing you to push off as soccer cleats don’t have a cleat under the toe. They also are much lighter and don’t offer nearly the same amount of support, so you have to be very careful with that. While maybe some skill position players could get away with it, it’d be akin to suicide to suggest them to a lineman.
How Long Do Most Lineman Cleats Last?
Football cleats vary in their durability. Some are going to be better than others. And a lot of times, price doesn’t make a big difference in determining this. A pair of cleats could be cheap yet made from strong materials. Those materials might be heavier and less flexible, but they could last a very long time. Then, you might have an expensive pair that feel great and flex easily that just don’t hold up as well.
It really just depends. The important thing is to take action if you notice that your cleats aren’t doing what they used to do. If they are causing you aches and pains that you didn’t use to have, if they are have tears in them, or if the outsole area is cracking, it is time to get yourself a new pair.
What Companies Make the Best Cleats for Lineman?
While there are more than three companies in the game, right now it’s hard to look past the top three as it stands. Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour have each carved out a huge slice of the football cleat market, and as such, they are just going to be taking up a large portion of any list as a result. Each have their own pluses and minuses to them, but you can be sure that with the right fit on you, each will give you better results and keep you healthy on the gridiron.