For the second straight season, we have researched all 704 NFL Starters to get a full picture of the helmets, cleats and gloves worn by NFL football players. While completing this research is a tall task, it provides us with valuable information about what the world’s best football players wear. We have calculated the brand share and even honed in on some of the specific models these pros are wearing. For this article, we’ll be focusing on some of the league’s most athletic defenders, the linebackers.
About the Research: This research focuses on the helmets, cleats and gloves of the 704 NFL Starters. We tracked 352 Offensive Players (32 QB’s, 32 RB’s, 96 WR’s and 160 OL) and 352 Defensive Players (64 DE’s, 49 DT’s, 64 OLB’s, 47 ILB’s and 128 DB’s). For this research, injuries were not considered, the best players at each position were selected. We used both ESPN and OurLads as a resource for our depth charts. The research was conducted from Week 15 to Week 17 (Dec. 20 – Jan. 2).
Our final note is to remember that players switch equipment all the time (sometimes even at halftime), so there is no way to ensure 100% accuracy throughout the season. Our findings still offer the best representation available of what brands and models are most popular among NFL Starters.
Helmets Worn by NFL Starting Linebackers
Linebacker is one of the most diverse positions of the defense. These fearless warriors fill gaps in the run game and run with wide receivers over the middle in the pass game. Linebackers are the leaders and lifeblood of an NFL defense and need equipment that allows them to dominate. It’s vital that these tackling machines are wearing a protective football helmet so they can make plays all day long. Let’s take a look at what brands and models are most popular among NFL linebackers.
Riddell | Worn by 81% of NFL Starting Linebackers
The most popular football helmet brand among NFL linebackers is Riddell and by a wide margin. This past season, we saw 81% of starting NFL linebackers wearing Riddell helmets – a majority of them in the Riddell Speedflex. The Speedflex is the most popular helmet in football and has been for about 5 years. The ‘flex is the perfect blend of modern external styling and top of the line padding. The key to the 5-star rated helmet’s success is its ability to flex (duh) and absorb contact. The hex panel on the front of the helmet, the shell, and even the facemask, work to flex and absorb impact. This is one of the best helmets on the market and worn by some of your favorite NFL linebackers including Darius Leonard, Deion Jones, and Patrick Queen. You can grab a Riddell Speedflex from Riddell for about $470.
The other popular Riddell helmet is the Riddell Speed. Prior to the existence of the Speedflex, the Riddell Speed was the most popular helmet in football. Since the Speedflex has taken over the football world, we’ve seen the usage of the Riddell Speed decline quickly. The Speed is still a 5-star rated helmet and one of the lightest helmets available – weighing only 3.7 pounds. The Speed is still worn by plenty of NFL linebackers, including Devin White, Myles Jack and Roquan Smith. You can still get a Riddell Speed from Riddell for about $370 ($100 cheaper than the Speedflex).
Schutt | Worn by 16% of NFL Starting Linebackers
This past season we saw 16% of starting NFL linebackers wearing Schutt football helmets. The most popular helmet among them was the newest innovation from Schutt – the Schutt F7. The F7 is the newest and safest helmet in Schutt’s lineup and scores a perfect 5/5 on the VT Helmet Rating Scale. The key to the F7’s success is the “tektonic plates” on the top of the helmet. These unique panels actually move independently from the rest of the shell to help disperse rotational force. Basically, the helmet does an excellent job of preventing the impact from reaching your head. This helmet is an excellent option for any position and worn by some of the league’s best defenders including TJ Watt, Khalil Mack and Josh Allen. You can check out the Schutt F7 from $550 – $750 on Schutt’s website.
The other Schutt helmet, only worn by 6 starting NFL LBs, is the Schutt Air XP Q11. The Schutt Air XP Q11 is a combination of the classic Air XP shell and the newest padding from Schutt. The Air XP Q11 is popular among NFL veterans including Anthony Barr and Bobby Wagner. The Schutt Air XP Q11 is currently a pro-model only but you can get the similar Schutt Air XP Q10 for $450 from Schutt.
Vicis | Worn by 3% of NFL Starting Linebackers
Finally, making up 3% of the helmet brand share among NFL starting LBs, is Vicis. This past season we saw 3 LBs in Vicis helmets – Matt Milano in the Vicis Zero1 and Joey Bosa and Drue Tranquill in the Zero2. Vicis is relatively new to the helmet game (founded in 2013), but they have created the safest helmets the game has ever seen. Vicis owns 3 spots in the top 6 on the VT Helmet Rating Scale, including #1 and #2. These are the best helmets on the market but their unique “bobble-head” shape seems to deter a lot of players. Check out the Vicis Zero2 on Vicis.com, starting at $700.
Cleats Worn by NFL Starting Linebackers
As I mentioned earlier, in the NFL, linebackers are expected to do it all. These talented defenders have to be capable of stuffing the run, rushing the passer and covering WRs in the secondary. Due to all of these responsibilities, these guys need cleats that can handle all of that. Some LBs tend to select a cleat with plenty of ankle support while others roll with a lightweight, speed cleat. Let’s take a close look at what cleats your favorite NFL LBs wore this past season.
Nike | Worn by 66% of NFL Starting Linebackers
The most popular cleat brand amongst NFL starting linebackers is Nike. We saw an astounding 66% of NFL starting LBs trusting the swoosh – most of them in the Nike Vapor Untouchable Pro 3. Despite this cleat being 4 years old, it’s still the most popular among the league’s best; that fact alone speaks volumes to the performance of this cleat. The main reason behind this cleats’ popularity is it’s carbon fiber traction plate. This traction plate has diamond studs that grip the ground and the carbon fiber feels as if it’s springing you into your next step. These cleats actually make you feel like you’re running faster which is every football player’s dream. Foyesade Oluokun, Tremaine Edmunds and Darius Leonard all wore the Nike VUP3 last season. These cleats are tough to find, but there are some on stockx.com and eBay.
Jordan | Worn by 18% of NFL Starting Linebackers
The second most popular brand amongst NFL starting LBs with 18% of the total brand share, is Jordan. Over the past several seasons, we’ve seen Jordan Brand cleat usage on the rise. These 1980s and 1990s Jordan basketball silhouettes have quickly become very popular among big skill players on the gridiron, especially linebackers. Jordan retros are perfect for linebackers because they have solid ankle support, a wide traction plate and of course, plenty of swag. We see both Jordan athletes, Devin White and Bobby Wagner and non-Jordan athletes, Joey Bosa and Haason Reddick, rocking different Jordan retro cleats. If you want a pair of Jordan cleats, we suggest you check StockX and GOAT.
Adidas | Worn by 14% of NFL Starting Linebackers
This past season, we saw 14% of NFL starting LBs wearing Adidas football cleats. The most popular Adidas cleat was the Adidas Freak Ultra Primeknit 21. These cleats are built perfectly for linebackers. These cleats have a lightweight primeknit upper, a high-cut ankle and a super linebacker friendly, “freak” traction plate. The “freak” traction plate is wide, springy, has plenty of long studs, and side teeth to help with lateral movement. These cleats have plenty of ankle support but are also light enough to help you run stride for stride with WRs. Devin Bush, Robert Quinn and Preston Smith wore these this past season. They’re a little tougher to find now but you can try Ebay.
The other popular Adidas cleat among NFL LBs is the Adidas Adizero 11.0. The Adizero 11.0 is the latest skill cleat from Adidas and incredibly lightweight. These cleats are low-cut and have a springy traction plate with sharp, triangle studs. These cleats are catered towards true skill players but work great for speedy linebackers like Jerome Baker and Zach Cunningham. You can grab the Adidas Adizero 11.0 for $120 from Eastbay.
Under Armour | Worn by 2% of NFL Starting Linebackers
We only saw 2 NFL starting LBs wearing Under Armour cleats this season – TJ Watt and Jihad Ward. Both of these guys are in Under Armour Nitro Mid cleats. These cleats are mid-cut, lightweight and have a traction plate with long studs. These cleats are tough to find but here’s a link to some on Amazon.
Gloves Worn by NFL Starting Linebackers
In today’s NFL, football gloves are a must have for every position (maybe not kickers). For linebackers, they wear gloves to protect their hands and give them some extra grip incase they get their hands on the football. The best gloves for linebackers are padded receiver gloves. This type of glove will protect their hands when making tackles but give them the grip to intercept the ball or scoop up a fumble. Let’s take a look and see what the most popular gloves were among NFL LBs this past season.
Nike | Worn by 81% of NFL Starting Linebackers
Similar to the cleat part of this article, Nike is absolutely dominating the game. This past season, we saw 81% of NFL starting LBs wearing the swoosh on their hands. The most popular model was the Nike Superbad 6.0. The Nike SB6 is the perfect glove for linebackers. These gloves have lightweight padding to protect the back of hand and then Nike’s super sticky “magnigrip” palms to help you catch the football. We saw lots of NFL LBs in these this past season, including De’Vondre Campbell, Denzel Perryman and Darius Leonard. You can get the Superbad 6.0 from Dicks for $55.
The other Nike glove that was very popular among NFL starting LBs, was the Nike Vapor Jet 6.0. The VJ6 is the latest receiver glove from Nike and the most popular glove in all of football. These don’t have the padding of the Nike Superbad 6.0 but are just as sticky, ensuring you’ll be ready if you get an opportunity to grab the football. These gloves were worn by Isaiah Simmons, Myles Jack and Fred Warner. You can get the Nike Vapor Jet 6.0 from Dicks for $45.
Adidas | Worn by 9% of NFL Starting Linebackers
Coming in second, we have Adidas making up 9% of the glove brand share among NFL starting LBs. The most popular Adidas glove was the Adidas Freak 5.0. The Freak 5.0 is Adidas’ latest padded receiver glove and has lightweight padding on the back of hand and sticky Adidas “griptack” on the palms. These gloves will help protect you when making a tackle and the sticky palms will help you reel in an interception. We saw Deion Jones and Harold Landry wore these this past season and you can get them from Eastbay for $55.
The other popular Adidas glove was the Adidas Adizero 11.0. These are the latest receiver glove from Adidas. These gloves don’t have the protection that the Freak 5.0s have but they have the same super sticky “griptack” palms. These are an excellent lighter option for linebackers and will help you catch the football and hang onto it. We saw Von Miller and Bradley Chubb wear the Adizero 11.0s this past season. You can grab a pair from Eastbay for $45.
Cutters | Worn by 5% of NFL Starting Linebackers
This past season, we saw 5% of NFL starting LBs wearing Cutters gloves. The most popular Cutters model was the Cutters Rev Pro 4.0. The Rev 4.0 is a very dependable pair of receiver gloves with Cutters’ awesome “C-Tack” grip. We saw Kamu Greiger-Hill and JPP wear Cutters gloves this past season. You can grab the Cutters Rev Pro 4.0 for $45 from Eastbay.
Jordan | Worn by 2% of NFL Starting Linebackers
Last year, we only saw 2 players wearing Jordan Brand football gloves – Devin White and Bobby Wagner. Both White and Wagner are signed with Jordan Brand so they are able to get these exclusive Jordan gloves that are unavailable to the public. Both of these guys wear older style gloves – Bobby is in the Jordan Superbad 3.0 and White is in the Jordan Vapor Jet 4.0. These gloves are Nike gloves, but rebranded as Jordan. If you want Jordan branded football gloves, Dicks just released the Jordan Jet 7.0 for $55.
No Gloves | 1% of NFL Starting Linebackers
Last year, the NFL sack leader runner-up, Robert Quinn, opted to wear no gloves all season long. It’s crazy to see a guy not wearing gloves in 2022, but Robert Quinn is a certified baller.
Under Armour | Worn by 1% of NFL Starting Linebackers
To wrap things up, we saw a single starting linebacker wearing Under Armour gloves last season – Jihad Ward. Under Armour was once one of the most popular brands in the NFL, but their usage has fallen off a cliff the last couple seasons. Jihad Ward wore the Under Spotlight which you can grab here for $45.
There you have it… the gear worn by the best linebackers in the world! Let us know what you think about our report in the comments below!