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Breaking Down The Tallest Players in NFL History

The stories behind these “freaks of nature” who made it to the highest level of pro football.

Detroit Lions OL Dan Skipper and more of the tallest players in NFL history
Credit-Detroit Lions/NFL/Joker Mag

When you see a tall, athletic individual, odds are that your mind automatically leans towards a professional basketball player.

Especially when that person stands taller than 6’8”.

As a basketball player, height certainly has its benefits. But the same can be said for NFL players who are graced with the ability to out-reach and outsize their opponents.

Here’s our breakdown of the tallest NFL players in league history.

Richard Sligh (7’0”)

A photo of Richard Sligh in his football uniform posing between two men in suits, with text that reads "At 7'0", Richard Sligh is the tallest player in NFL history."

At 7’0″, Richard Sligh is the tallest NFL player of all time.

Ok, technically we are cheating a bit here as the 300-pound defensive tackle suited up for the Oakland Raiders in 1967 when they were a part of the AFL, three years before the league merged with the NFL.

After spending four years with the North Carolina Central Eagles in which he got on the field for his final two seasons, Sligh became the answer to a trivia question.

Selected in the 10th round as the 253rd pick in the 1967 AFL Draft, Sligh saw action in just eight games.

While he failed to record any significant stats other than stepping on the field, Sligh did manage to make the Raiders Super Bowl II roster.

Dan Skipper (6’10”)

An image of Dan Skipper on the sideline in his Detroit Lions uniform next to a quote that reads: "The biggest thing I want is to go out there and be a tough guy and play hard. That’s what it always comes down to and it’s what I try to do, whether I’m 6-8 or 6-10 or somewhere in between.”

Standing at 6 feet 10 inches, Dan Skipper is the tallest active NFL player.

Following four years as an offensive lineman for the Arkansas Razorbacks – two of which found him listed among either the first or second All-SEC team – Colorado native Dan Skipper found himself as a rookie free agent.

Taking a chance on the 325-pound big man, the Dallas Cowboys looked past Skipper’s chronic blood condition and extended him a training camp invitation. While Skipper was released by the Cowboys on September 20th, 2017, he got a second chance to crack an NFL lineup by the Detroit Lions.

There was clearly something about Skipper that the Lions appreciated more than the other six teams (one of which was the 2018 Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots) that he tried out for over his first six seasons.

After brief stops with seven different teams, Skipper has played the majority of his career games with the Lions.

“The biggest thing I want is to go out there and be a tough guy and play hard,” he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “That’s what it always comes down to and it’s what I try to do, whether I’m 6-8 or 6-10 or somewhere in between.”

Morris Stroud (6’10”)

The NFL created a rule to stop this 6'10 tight end from blocking field goals – Morris Stroud

While he was on the roster for the 1969 Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl IV run, Morris Stroud only saw the field during their Divisional Final against the New York Jets. However, the 6’10” tight end still secured a Super Bowl ring after the Chiefs defeated the Minnesota Vikings 23-7.

Although he was more of a basketball player than a football player, Stroud was selected by the Chiefs in the third round of the 1969 NFL Draft, after playing four years at Clark Atlanta University – a Division 2 HBCU.

Despite his preference for the pumpkin over the pigskin, Stroud was mathematically one of the better tight ends in the league.

As part of the Chiefs special teams unit, Stroud was on the field when the opposition attempted a field goal, standing under the goal post where he would channel his inner Dikembe Mutombo and swat the ball away from the uprights. This would eventually cause the league to implement a rule in his name.

Under Rule 12, Section 3, Part T of the NFL rulebook is “The Stroud Rule”, which states: “Goaltending by a defensive player leaping up to deflect a kick as it passes above the crossbar of a goalpost [is prohibited]. The referee may award three points for a palpably unfair act.”

Ed Jones (6’9”)

Ed Jones got his nickname from a friend who said he was “Too Tall” to play football.

When your nickname is “Too Tall” you automatically make a list of the tallest individuals.

As a multi-sport star growing up, Ed Jones excelled in basketball, baseball, and football. Despite earning his nickname from a college teammate who deemed “he was too tall to play football” after noticing Jones’ pants didn’t fit properly, the Jackson, Tennessee-born defensive end became a two-time All-American for the Tennesse State Tigers.

Selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the first overall pick in the 1974 NFL Draft, Jones continued to display his dominance on defense, becoming a three-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All-Pro.

During Jones’ 15-year NFL career, he would help the Cowboys reach the Super Bowl on three occasions, walking away with the XII ring after defeating the Denver Broncos.

Jonathan Ogden (6’9”)

Spending all twelve years of his professional career with the Baltimore Ravens, Jonathan Ogden was the team’s first-ever draft pick.

Selected fourth overall in 1996 following a Hall of Fame (UCLA and College Football) career with the UCLA Bruins, the 6’9″ tackle eventually made his way into a third Hall of Fame when he was inducted into the Pro Football version in 2013.

Arguably one of the best offensive tackles in the history of the game, Ogden was a Pro Bowl selection every year but his rookie season and also earned nine All-Pro Team selections (4 first-team, 5 second-team). 

Fun fact: Ogden nearly became the WWE Hardcore Champion when attended an episode of Monday Night Raw and Crash Holly jumped the barricade. Ogden, who dwarfed the wrestler, picked him up with ease in a bear hug and attempted a pin before Holly narrowly escaped.

Alejandro Villanueva (6’9”)

Many football players (and athletes in general) use the term going to war or battle when describing a big game. For Alejandro Villanueva, the phrase was a literal one. 

After playing four years for the Army Black Knights, where he played both sides of the field and multiple positions, Villanueva found himself without a professional team in 2010.

While he had a couple of opportunities to make the league, Captain Villanueva fell short and found himself heading out for three deployments to serve his country as a member of the Army Rangers, earning a Bronze Star. 

In 2014, the Philadelphia Eagles gave Villanueva a chance to make the team, but after coming into training camp significantly overweight he was released by the end of summer.

The Pittsburgh Steelers provided Villanueva one final opportunity to crack an NFL lineup, moving the big man from defense to offense. The change would prove beneficial for both player and team as Villanueva earned two trips to the Pro Bowl during his six seasons with the club.

Caleb Jones (6’9”)

From an undrafted free-agent rookie to a practice squad member to a full-time Green Bay Packer, Caleb Jones has made the most of the opportunities presented to him. 

An individual wall of protection for quarterbacks, the 6’9” Indianapolis native is nearly as wide as he is tall, weighing in at an agile 370 pounds.

A multi-sport star at Lawrence North High School, Jones stayed home to attend college, playing four years with the Indiana Hoosiers.

The Packers had originally placed Jones on their 2022 practice roster, but a lack of depth and talent on their offensive line presented Jones an opportunity to join the boys in the locker room on a full-time basis.

Harold Carmichael (6’8”)

Harold Carmichael’s size and presence were equally as big on the field as his heart was off of it, earning the NFL Man of the Year Award in 1980.

A four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, Carmichael spent the majority of his career in Philadelphia where he would become one of the best players in Eagles history. 

In 1973, Carmichael led the entire league in both receiving and receptions, finishing with 1,116 yards off of 67 catches.

After thirteen seasons in the City of Brotherly Love in which he helped the Eagles to an appearance at Super Bowl XV, Carmichael found himself placed on waivers. Following a brief stint on the New York Jets practice roster, Carmichael finished his career playing just two games for the Dallas Cowboys.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020.

Jared Veldheer (6’8”)

From a small NCAA Division II liberal arts private school in Michigan to the NFL, Jared Veldheer made the most of his talents as an offensive tackle. 

After being picked up by the Oakland Raiders with their third-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Veldheer suited up for seven different teams over his eleven years in the league.

Among the jerseys hanging in Veldheer’s closet are the Raiders, Cardinals, Broncos, Patriots (practice roster only), Colts, and the Packers. Unfortunately for Veldheer, his professional football career was marred by injuries, repeated retirements, and violating the NFL drug policy. 

Dan McGwire (6’8”)

Several other NFL players have measured in at six feet eight inches, but when it comes to the tallest quarterback in league history, it seems right to include Dan McGwire over the others.

Unfortunately despite standing about five inches taller than the average NFL quarterback, the size advantage didn’t help McGwire stand out statistically. 

Drafted by the Seattle Seahawks with the 16th pick in the 1991 NFL Draft, McGwire (the brother of MLB star Mark McGwire) played just thirteen games throughout five seasons, four with the Seahawks and one with the Miami Dolphins. 

It is not known if the person who signed off on drafting McGwire over future Hall of Fame QB Brett Farve (drafted 33rd) was immediately fired.

More from this series:

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Written By

Life-long sports fan and avid basketball junkie in every sense of the word. The same passion I have for the Lakers translates to my extreme dislike for the Duke Blue Devils. As much as I cheer for the favorite and the dynasty, I appreciate and applaud the underdog and the grind whether you are a weekend warrior or a professional, both on and off the field.

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