Football has always been a game designed for big men to thrive. Every coach and scout is looking for a player that can push people around on the line of scrimmage and can overpower anybody standing in their way. Nowadays, they even want that heavy player to have some nimble feet, athleticism and a great first step, whether it's to protect or get after the quarterback.
Much like fighting has weight divisions, a similar system applies in football. The height and weight of a player will often determine the position he plays. If someone is tall, athletic, has great hands and has some speed, you can bet they're playing wide receiver. If someone is fast, with tremendous lower body strength and a low center of gravity, they'll likely be put in at running back. If you're an especially large athlete, but still are very quick on your feet, you may be placed in a tackle spot. Players are often cast as to how they look. Plenty of players played a certain position in college, but due to their size or lack thereof, they were re-assigned to another position for their NFL careers. Julian Edelman was a quarterback in college and a darn good one, but to enjoy an NFL career, he had to make the switch to receiver, which has worked out well for him.
These are going to be the players that gave you no doubt as to where they would earn their money; in the trenches, on the line of scrimmage. This is going to be a list of the heaviest players to ever play in the NFL. Rest assured, you're going to be seeing many nose tackles, centers and guards. As heavy as they were though, these players have tremendous athleticism which allowed them to thrive as NFL players. A lot of the entries are also recent players, as NFL players have gotten bigger and stronger as time has gone on.
15 Kenrick Ellis - 346 pounds
Kenrick Ellis of the Minnesota Vikings checks in at 6-foot-4, 346 pounds. Ellis spent four seasons with the Jets but it was hard for him to get playing time on a stacked Jets defensive line. The Jamaican born defensive tackle signed with the Minnesota Vikings in 2015 and lost a few pounds to work his way down to 335 in hopes of having a better burst off the ball. Ellis may find himself looking to earn a roster spot with a team in training camp.
14 Dontari Poe - 346 pounds
Dontari Poe was the physical specimen of his draft year. Coming out of Memphis, the nose tackle came into the NFL Combine at 346 pounds, yet still manged to run a 4.98 in the 40-yard dash. Poe was selected by the Chiefs at 11th overall in 2012 with the Chiefs knowing he may need some time to develop. Since then, Poe has emerged as a force on K.C's defensive line. He made the 2013 and 2014 Pro Bowls and constantly draws double teams on the inside, allowing the rest of the Chiefs' pass rushers and run stoppers to thrive.
13 Damon Harrison, Montori Hughes, Alan Branch - 350 pounds
Damon Harrison finds himself in elite company on the Jets' defensive line. He was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2012 and really came into his own this past year. Playing on a line with the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams helped. Harrison earned Pro Football Focus's Best Run Defender Award and was named an All-Pro as well by PFF. He recorded 72 tackles from the inside and forced a fumble. The Jets were second against the run this season, only allowing 83.5 yards per game.
12 Daniel McCullers - 352 pounds
11 Bryant McKinnie - 352 pounds
Bryant McKinnie's weight would fluctuate throughout his career, as he sometimes would balloon up to over 360 pounds. McKinnie had plenty of height to go with his weight, as he was towering as a 6-foot-8 left tackle, but as his career progressed, his weight became more of an issue. Back in 2012, McKinnie was held out of some minicamp practices as coaches felt he wasn't physically ready for the rigors of camp. McKinnie would recover to take the starting job and helped the Ravens to the Super Bowl that same year.
McKinnie's age and weight caught up to him in 2013 and he was traded to the Dolphins, where he would flounder before calling it a career.
10 Terrance Knighton - 354 pounds
You had to know a guy nicknamed "Pot Roast" would find his way onto this list. Terrance Knighton was a third-round pick of the Jaguars back in 2009 and he was expected to be the big run stopper up the middle. He would eventually sign with the Broncos and helped Denver become one of the better defenses against the run. He signed as a free agent with Washington this past season, where he saw his numbers start to dip.
9 Trenton Brown - 355 pounds
Trenton Brown is still a relative newcomer to the NFL, having just played out his rookie season with the 49ers. Brown was drafted in the seventh round and was only used in five games this season, starting in two of those contests. With Chip Kelly now coaching the 49ers, we'll see this coming year if the 355-pounder is a fit for Kelly's ultra quick play, offensive system. Brown's use may be reserved for special teams.
8 John Jenkins - 359 pounds
John Jenkins hasn't yet shown much promise in the NFL after being a second-team SEC player coming out of college. The nose tackle was drafted in the third round by the Saints back in 2013. He had a career high 12 starts this past season, but as we saw, the Saints' defense was a trainwreck at certain points in 2015. With New Orleans having moved on from Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator, we'll see if Jenkins can thrive under some new direction.
7 Robert Griffin - 361 pounds
The guy that was known as the other Robert Griffin at Baylor gained some attention due to his massive frame in the 2012 draft. With his main job being to protect a Heisman winning quarterback in RG3, Griffin received praise and impressed folks while at Baylor. Griffin would be selected by the Jets in the sixth round, but was unable to earn a roster spot in camp. From there, his career has dwindled, as the Colts signed him for their practice squad, but released him just a few days later. He's since joined the Mesquite Marshals of the Champions Indoor Football league.
6 T.J. Barnes - 364 pounds
Rex Ryan has been a longtime proponent of the 3-4, which is why he has gotten T.J. Barnes in his organization, not once but twice. The nose tackle was signed by the Jaguars in 2013 as an undrafted free agent, but was soon released. Barnes soon found a home in New York with the Jets, where Ryan was the head coach. He remained with the Jets until December of 2015, when they released him from their practice squad. The Bills would claim him off waivers the next day. Does Rex Ryan still think he has a future in the NFL?
5 Michael Jasper - 375 pounds
Michael Jasper has had a difficult time finding a home in the NFL, as he's found himself on five different teams since being drafted by the Buffalo Bills back in 2011. Jasper was enormous in his college days, sometimes weighing as much as 450 pounds. Bills coach Chan Gailey had him cut down to 375. Jasper has since been on practice squads for the Bills, Titans, Giants and Panthers, but it doesn't appear as if he'll get to contribute on a roster.
4 William "The Refrigerator" Perry - 382 pounds
Perhaps the most beloved big guy of all time, William "The Refrigerator" Perry delivered one of the best visuals in Super Bowl history when he rumbled in from the one-yard line for a touchdown. Perry was a first-round pick of the Bears prior to their historic 1985 season, in which Perry was a force. Perry would play 10 years in the NFL, but his weight often became an issue, which limited his playing time and effectiveness. Sadly, Perry's weight has continued to be an issue and he has also fallen on financial troubles, having sold his Super Bowl ring in 2015.
3 Nate Newton - 400 pounds
Nate Newton enjoyed a long career as a guard for the Dallas Cowboys. His career saw him win three Super Bowls, having been a Cowboy through the duration of their 90s dynasty. His responsibilities included helping Emmitt Smith set rushing records and protecting Troy Aikman. Newton would make six Pro Bowls and was a two-time All-Pro. While Newton was able to keep his weight down when it matter, reports suggest there were times he was hovering around the 400-pound mark.
Newton hit a low point in his life back in 2001 when he was caught with over 200 pounds of marijuana in his van and then another 175 pounds a month later. He would serve 30 months in jail, but has since turned his life around and has even lost 175 pounds.
2 Terrell Brown - 403 pounds
Terrell Brown was seen as a project by the Rams back in 2013 when they signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Ole Miss. While Brown was towering at 6-foot-10, he weighed in at over 400 pounds in his physical with the Rams. Coach Jeff Fisher said that there was a possibility Brown could have a future as a right tackle, even though he had spent his college days on the defensive side of the ball. The Rams would cut Brown before the season and he hasn't seen any NFL action since.
1 Aaron Gibson - 410 pounds
Like many big guys on this list, Aaron Gibson's weight would vary throughout his NFL career, but it would often hover around 400 pounds, topping out at 410. Gibson would play for six years in the NFL, going through stints with the Lions, Cowboys, Bears and eventually the Bills. Gibson would find himself out of the NFL by 2007, where he signed with the Austin Wranglers of the Arena Football League.
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