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 the captain of the offense: the Quarterback.
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 Quarterbacks
The Quarterback is one of the most pivotal members of a football team. In today’s game, QB’s are coaches on the football field, often the best athletes and the franchise players of the team. Being the franchise guy, they must also be protected. In addition to the 5 offensive lineman in front of them, QB’s wear top of the line football helmets to protect them from blind side hits and gargantuan defensive lineman. Let’s take a look at the most popular football helmet brands and models from the 2021-22 season.
Riddell | Worn by 78% of NFL Starting Quarterbacks
For the second straight (tracked) year, Riddell is dominating the helmet game. But, even before we began to track helmets, Riddell has been #1 in the industry. Out of 32 starting NFL QB’s, more than 3 out of 4 wear Riddell football helmets.
The most popular helmet amongst NFL starting QB’s is the Riddell Speedflex. The Riddell Speedflex is the perfect blend of modern styling with top of the line protection. All of the different Speedflex trims score a perfect 5/5 on the Virginia Tech Helmet Rating Scale, making them some of the safest options on the market. The secret to the Speedflex is its ability to flex. The hexagon panel on the crown, the facemask and even the shell, flex upon impact to absorb the contact. Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson and Tom Brady are some of our favorites wearing the Riddell Speedflex. You can get the Riddell Speedflex from Riddell for $469.99.
The other Riddell football helmet worn by starting NFL QB’s is the Riddell Speed. There are only 3 starting QB’s still in the Speed – Baker Mayfield, Jared Goff and Jimmy Garoppolo. The Speed has been a player (and fan) favorite for a decade because of it’s streamlined design and light-weight. It’s slowly being phased out of football but still one of the coolest helmets you can rock. Despite it’s age, the Riddell Speed is 5-Star Rated Helmet. You can get an adult Speed from Riddell for $339 or a youth Speed for $229.
Schutt | Worn by 13% of NFL Starting Quarterbacks
Coming in at second is Schutt with 13% of NFL starting Quarterbacks wearing their helmets. The main reason some players select Schutt over Riddell is because they are typically lighter in weight. The Schutt F7, worn by Andy Dalton and Teddy Bridgewater, weighs in at around 4 pounds, while the Speedflex weighs closer to 5 pounds. The Schutt F7 is the latest innovation from Schutt and features “Tektonic” plates that move independently from the rest of the shell to disperse rotational force. The F7 is a 5-star rated helmet and one of the best options available. You can shop the Schutt F7 from $500-$1000 on Schutt’s website.
The other Schutt helmet worn by some NFL starting QB’s is the Schutt Air XP Q11. The Schutt Air XP Q11 is the iconic Schutt Air XP shell blended together with Schutt’s most up to date padding. Despite it’s old-school appearance, the Schutt Air XP Q11 is a 5-Star rated helmet and a safe, lightweight option. Aaron Rodgers and Tyrod Taylor are the lone starting QB’s wearing the Schutt Air XP Q11 in 2021. 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 9% of NFL Starting Quarterbacks
Lastly, coming in at 9%, is Vicis. Vicis is relatively new to the helmet game (founded in 2013), but they have already made their mark in the industry. Vicis is responsible for some of the highest graded helmets ever. The Vicis Zero1, Zero2 and Zero Trench all place in the top 6 on the Virginia Tech Helmet Rating Scale. Superstar quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson are rocking the Vicis Zero1 and Derek Carr has been balling in the Vicis Zero2. These helmets are top of the line and their popularity is growing each year. You can check out the Vicis Zero2 on Vicis.com, starting at $700.
Cleats Worn by NFL Starting Quarterbacks
For Quarterbacks, we typically see them wear 2 different “classes” of football cleats; “skill” cleats and “big skill” cleats. Skill cleats are lighter, lower-cut and built for the speedsters of the gridiron. Big skill cleats, on the other hand, are built for players who prefer stability and support in the pocket. These cleats are usually heavier, have more ankle support and wider traction plates. A Quarterbacks’ play-style usually dictates what type of cleats they wear on game day.
Here are the brands of cleat worn by NFL starting QB’s in the 2020-21 season.
Nike | Worn by 56% of NFL Starting Quarterbacks
For 2021, Nike, once again, was the most popular cleat brand worn amongst NFL starting Quarterbacks. Fifty-six percent (18 of 32) are rocking with the swoosh. The most popular cleat for QB’s this season was the Nike Vapor Edge 360 Pro. The Vapor Edge 360 Pro is the latest skill cleat in Nike’s Vapor line and built for speed and lateral quickness. The cleat is lightweight, comfortable and has incredible traction. This cleat is perfect for dual-threat QB’s and worn by two of the most versatile quarterbacks on Earth, Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen. You can cop the Nike Vapor Edge 360 Pro from Dicks for $120.
The other popular Nike cleat worn by QB’s this year is the Nike Vapor Untouchable Pro 3. This cleat initially debuted back in 2018 but based on it’s continued usage in 2021, is still loved by many. The VUP3 is another lightweight Nike Vapor cleat but has Nike’s carbon fiber traction plate. This traction plate is lightweight, strong and feels as if it’s springing you into your next step. Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and Taylor Heinicke are the QB’s in the Nike Vapor Untouchable Pro 3. It can be tough to get these cleats since they are a past model, but there are some on stockx.com and eBay.
Jordan | Worn by 19% of NFL Starting Quarterbacks
We are beginning to see more and more players rock Jumpman in the NFL. For this season, we saw 19% (6 of 32) starting QB’s wearing Jordan cleats – a 3% increase from last season. These older Jordan silhouettes work great for quarterbacks – they’re wide, supportive and have plenty of swag. Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr have been wearing the Jordan 10s all season but Jordan Brand athlete, Dak Prescott, has pulled out 1s, 5s, 10s, and 11s throughout the year. If you want a pair of Jordan cleats, we suggest you check StockX and GOAT.
Adidas | Worn by 19% of NFL Starting Quarterbacks
Coming in at second (tied with Jordan) is Adidas. For this season, we saw 6 of 32 starting QB’s in the Three Stripes. The most popular model among them was the Adidas Freak Ultra Primeknit 21. The Freak Ultra Primeknit is the latest “Big Skill” cleat from Adidas and an excellent option for QB’s. These cleats are very supportive but the Adidas Primeknit keeps them somewhat lightweight. They also feature a boost midsole which makes them exceptionally comfortable. These cleats work great for pocket passers like Patrick Mahomes, Tua Tagovailoa, and Trevor Lawrence. You can shop the Adidas Freak Ultra Primeknit at Dicks Sporting Goods.
Under Armour | Worn by 6% of NFL Starting Quarterbacks
Lastly, we have Under Armour, worn by 6% of NFL starting Quarterbacks. This season, Tom Brady and Jalen Hurts were the only starting QB’s wearing Under Armour cleats. Brady wore his usual bulky Under Armour PE’s and Hurts rocked the Under Armour Spotlight for most of the season. Since ending their on-field licensing agreement with the NFL, Under Armour’s usage has been on the decline in the NFL.
Gloves Worn by NFL Starting Quarterbacks
NONE | 97% of NFL Starting Quarterbacks
As you may expect, most Quarterbacks don’t wear gloves. Gloves can disrupt a QB’s ball feel and make it harder to throw the football with both velocity and accuracy. Nearly every QB goes gloveless, but Teddy “Two-Gloves” Bridgewater is the lone exception – rocking the Nike Knit 4.0 on both hands. If you’re a QB looking to wear a glove on your throwing hand, the Nike Knit line is probably your best bet. They are super thin and lightweight, giving you the best ball feel imaginable while wearing a glove. Unfortunately, the Nike Knit 4.0 is a Pro/CFB model only but you can get the Jordan Knit for $60.
There you have it… the gear worn by the best quarterbacks in the world! Let us know what you think about our report in the comments below!