Best Linemen cleats & Running Back Football cleats for 2021

Each cleat has a very specific purpose and type of player they are built for. Picking the right shoes will improve your game and give your feet the proper protection from injury. We’ll break down your options and show you the best linemen cleats and the best running back cleats for 2021. (UPDATED from 2020)

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Linemen tend to be large, heavy-weight players who experience repeated high-impact contact with their opponents. These players need shoes that are going to give them a lot of ankle support, like an ankle brace would. The spikes should go deep in order to penetrate the ground. These round spikes will provide grounding support for lateral movement, to push the opponent around on defence and stand ground on offence. The fit needs to be snug and solid once tied up with no space to move the foot around inside the shoe. The best linemen cleats provide the most support for the ankle, running part way up the lower leg with strong fabric tightened by laces. A strong layer of fabric typically covers the laces to prevent them from catching on other objects or players. Read further below to see which shoes are best for this position.

Heavy Defensive Lineman need a LOT of grip and ankle support.

Running backs

Running backs have a different job and therefore their own set of requirements in footwear. They prefer mid-rise footwear that provide some added ankle support but not quite as much as linemen cleats. Running backs need support from their shoes for moderate opponent contact and for running situations. They need maneuverability and the opportunity to get up to full speed on a sprint. These shoes also need to prevent too much flex by having stiff fibre-glass inserts or other supportive materials.

Running Backs need light fast cleats for speed and agility.

Here are the top products that we have reviewed for you if you are a lineman or a running back :

  • Under Armour UA Highlight MC

    Overall Rating

Running Back
Nike Vapor Carbon Elite TD Mens Football Cleats
  • Nike Vapor Carbon Elite TD Mens Football Cleats

    Overall Rating

Running Back
  • Adidas Performance Copa Mundial

    Overall Rating

Running Back
  • Under Armour UA Speedform MC

    Overall Rating

  • Under Armour UA Saber Mid D

    Overall Rating

STUDS: Molded, Detachable, Metal, Plastic

Here’s a quick pro’s and cons of each. Most likely, you’re going to end up with molded cleats. They’re much more popular and available than detachable studs.

Plastic Spikes
Molded Plastic Studs
  • Cost less
  • Best grip on Artificial turf (synthetic fields)
  • Zero maintenance

  • Wear out faster
  • Can’t replace studs
  • Less grip on natural surfaces than detachable studs.

Metal Spikes
Metal Spikes
  • Replaceable studs
  • Better grip on natural surfaces
  • Customize your stud size depending on field surface

  • Expensive
  • Require more knowledge of what studs to use, when and where.
  • Not as grippy on artificial turf as molded plastic studs.

What about Traction?


Better off with more traction because they’re not moving around so much as holding their ground, so the longer cleats will benefit them a lot.

Running Backs

Might want to opt for slightly shorter shoe spikes to minimize the amount of effort required to push and pull those shoes in and out of the ground while running.

What about Knee Injury from Flat or Round Cleats?

A study concluded that the type of shoe made no difference in knee injuries.

The American Journal of Sports Medicine

Cleats and Field Types

Artificial turf
Artificial Turf

Plastic molded cleats perform best on synthetic fields because they have more studs on the bottom of the shoe than replaceable and metal studs.

Natural Grass
Natural Grass & Mud

Replaceable studs of various sizes can be a big help on this type of field. Plastic studs don’t get as much grip in wet, muddy fields.

2021 Best Linemen Cleats and Running Back Cleats

Now that you know what type of shoes you need for your position and the type of ground you play on, lets look at the top cleats available this year. (Not sure what to choose here? Read the top portion of this article). It will make a huge difference in what you choose.

Best Lineman Cleats (high top)

#1 – Under Armour UA Highlight MC Football Cleats

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Built to be super light and incredibly fast while providing extra protection and support, these Under Amour cleats are best for narrow feet. Take a look at the unique clutch fit that these cleats feature. It does a great job of keeping these shoes fitting tight without cutting off your circulation. These shoes help prevent toe hyperextension, include the clutch fit system and have a 3D form fitting tongue. The UA PlasmaX plate will keep you steady and provide a ton of traction. So, if you’re looking to buy this pair, you’ll definitely see your game rise to the next level because of its world-class design and comfort. There is nothing better than a pair of shoes doing what it is supposed to be doing and more!

Also, I would like to mention that if you are looking for football cleats with best ankle support, then you have come to the right place. This pair offers the protection that any athlete would ever need under any circumstance. 

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With 73%  five star ratings, there are a lot of really good reviews you can check out. That’s an amazing amount of feedback from players. The styling has changed quite a bit this year with triangular shaped panels, called “eyerow cut-outs”, where the laces loop through. It’s not just a killer look, it’s actually really functional. By reducing the amount of material around the lace eyelets, it’s easier to get your foot in and out of the boot.

Under Armour was also in our latest article we wrote for you on Our Top 3 Picks for The Best Football Cleats.

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Best Running Back Cleats

#1 – Nike Vapor Carbon Elite TD Mens Football Cleats

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THESE CLEATS ARE FAST. A team favorite, these shoes are engineered to give your runners maximum speed and agility without any drag or discomfort. 88% of reviews between 4 & 5 stars out of 5.

“Amazing cleats!!! I’m using it for football and it works very well!!! I’m able to sprint fast and make sharp turns!!!! 10/10”

If you decide try a pair out, look for half a size bigger than what you normally wear. Expect them to be a little tighter to put on with the connected tongue. In the long run this will only be a benefit to a snug fit and good support. This pair is surely one of the best cleats for running backs and there is no doubt about it in our minds. 

So, if you’re looking for a pair of shoes that can boost your performance while adding a much needed protection then these Nike Vapor Carbon Elite Cleats will surely get the job done.

Read more in our detailed review of the Nike Vapor Carbon Elite >>

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#2 – Adidas Performance Copa Mundial 

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If this is even remotely what you are looking for then stop here and just buy these shoes. The Adidas Copa Mundial are one of the best quality cleats available on the market. I’m emphasizing ‘quality’ here because they may not be the most aggressive, high-performance shoes on the market, but they’re very very well produced and extremely popular. These cleats, which are made of kangaroo hide, have been tried and tested and lasted.

The Adidas Performance Copa Mundial, boasts great quality and aesthetics that not too many products can match. Also, for a fair price, you’re definitely getting your moneys worth!

These cleats have over 280+ 5 star reviews on Amazon!

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Runners Up

#3 – Under Armour UA Speedform MC Cleats 

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Last year’s top performing shoe, it’s still an excellent performer and highly recommended. The SpeedForm sole molds to your feet, giving your foot a super secure fit and the heel cup is seamless with the rest of the shoe. These shoes have what Under Amour calls a Pebax heel to provide extra structure and support and their V56 technology to prevent hyperextension. What does all this mean? It means you’ll reach your top speed faster and it’s going to feel more natural and smooth. The idea is to let you forget you’re wearing cleats and let you focus on your play. Also, these cleats look great with the chomed-out cleat plate and color hi-lights.

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#4 – Under Armour UA Saber Mid D Football Cleats 

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I was tempted to just tell you to again, buy the Adidas Copa Mundials because they’re amazing, but technically they’re not going to have as good of a grip as these Sabers. These run on the smaller size, so go up a half size unless you have very narrow feet. The spikes are killer and will get you where you need to go, just make sure they’re legal in your game. Well constructed and tight fitting, these shoes will give you ample ankle support and solid grip in the turf. The shoes come with removable plastic spikes, which will have a short life but you can replace them with metal ones. This list of the best linemen cleats and the best running back cleats can change. We’ll try to keep it updated as things change and new and better cleats come out onto the market. However, the newest aren’t likely to become the best until a year of heavy use on the fields by the pro’s.

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Bottom Line

I hope that you have enjoyed my review of the best shoes for linemen and running backs. Hopefully this gives you an insight on what kind of shoes to buy if you are playing those two positions. We all know how important proper shoes are when it comes to playing the sport, lacing up the wrong ones can lead to injury and underperformance which we do not want happening to you.

And, if you want to see our full review of the Best Fullback Cleats then click over here.

  1. Reply
    Jen July 19, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    My son is a lineman for his high school football team. I’ve looked everywhere for cleats for him but because of the size, I’m having no luck. Any suggestions for a size 12.5 or 13 EEEE?

    • Reply
      Mike July 19, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      Hi Jen,

      It looks like these adidas might work. I suggest ordering the 12 and 13 (since they don’t have 12.5) and see which fits best. Maybe try a few pairs of socks too. adidas Men’s Nastyquick Wide 4E Football Cleats. Good luck!


  2. Reply
    Maria July 27, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    Hello Coach Micheal,

    Can you “Please” help us locate lineman cleats size 15 or 151/2 wide?
    My son is 15 years of age, plays high school varsity lineman this year. He is in need of some high top football cleats in a size I cannot locate anywhere. I’ve looked online with all the sports brands online that have custom order sites to no luck. football starting up soon and he is in some old football cleats that I can’t seem to replace. He would like under armour, but their cleats run to small width wise.

    Please help.

    • Reply
      Mike August 2, 2017 at 4:14 pm

      I did some research and I just can’t seem to find anything in 15 that’s 2e wide. You’ve got a bit of a challenge there. One thing you could consider is getting a pair of hi-top cleats that are leather, like this (, and then try stretching the width. One trick is to fill a bag with water in each shoe and put them in the freezer for a couple days. Let it thaw and see how the shoe fits after that. Another option would be to have it professionally done at a cobbler.

      Good Luck!

  3. Reply
    Kfir August 22, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Coach Mike,
    I’m a lineman and i’m looking for some new 2e size 9.5/10 cleats.
    Any suggestions?

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