Today we examine the tallest players, by position, in pro football history.
Quarterback.: Dan McGwire, 6’8”. A first-round pick [16th overall] of the Seattle Seahawks in 1991, Dan is the not-so-little brother of former MLB slugger, Mark McGwire. Stardom in the NFL is a tall order for a quarterback, and McGwire fell well short. In five non-descript seasons, he played in 13 games, throwing for two touchdowns, six interceptions, and 745 yards. McGwire, who was drafted ahead of Brett Favre, compiled a career passer rating of 52.3.
Wide Receiver: Harold Carmichael, 6’8”. Carmichael was a great one. A four-time Pro Bowler, he played 14 NFL seasons, 13 of them with the Philadelphia Eagles. In 1973, Carmichael led the league in receptions, receiving yards, and average yards per game. The gifted wideout – who played with his chinstrap unbuckled – scored 79 touchdowns and averaged better than 15 yards per grab during his underappreciated career.
Tight End: Morris Stroud, 6’10”. Stroud is the tallest tight end – and second tallest player – in NFL history. A college basketball player, he was drafted by Hank Stram in 1969 and molded into a receiver. In five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, Mo caught 54 passes for 977 yards and seven touchdowns. His specialty was special teams, where he stood under the crossbar trying to bat down field goal attempts, a practice that was later outlawed under the “Stroud Rule.”
Running Back: Bert Coan, 6’5”. The tallest running back in history played six seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, carrying three times in the first Super Bowl. He also ran back kicks, averaging 23.8 yards per return. In 1960, he shared the University of Kansas backfield with future pros John Hadl and Curtis McClinton, where he led the Jayhawks in scoring.
Offensive Tackle: Dan Skipper, 6’10”. Even among the big-bodied tackles in the NFL, Skipper stands out. Despite earning first-team All-SEC honors at Arkansas in 2015 and 2016, Skipper went undrafted. Arkansas’ all-time leader in field goal blocks has been a practice squad player with the Cowboys, Lions, and Broncos. In January 2019, Skipper signed to the New England Patriots practice squad.
Guard: Robert Gallery, 6’7”. As an Iowa freshman, Gallery was moved from tight end to tackle, where he blossomed into the 2003 Outland Trophy winner. The second overall pick of the Oakland Raiders in 2004, he was a bust at tackle and was moved to guard, where he performed at a much higher level until his retirement in 2012.
Center: Jared Veldheer, 6’8”. Selected by Oakland in the third round of the 2010 draft, Veldheer was named the Raiders starting center after his rookie season. After the first game, he was moved to tackle. The Hillsdale College alum played four seasons each with Oakland and Arizona before retiring in May 2019.
Defensive Tackle: Richard Sligh, 7’0”. The tallest man ever to play pro football played eight games for the 1967 Oakland Raiders. A reserve in Super Bowl II, he was chosen by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1968 AFL Expansion Draft but was waived prior to the start of the season. Sligh, who died two days before Christmas 2008, would have celebrated his 75thbirthday earlier this month.
Defensive End: Ed Jones, 6’9”. As a high-schooler, Jones boxed played baseball and was a basketball All-American. He chose to play hoops at Tennessee State but left the team after two seasons to try football. During his first practice, a teammate mentioned that Jones’ pants didn’t fit because he was “too tall to play football.” The name stuck, and Too Tall Jones went on to become a consensus All-American, first-round draft pick, three-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion with the Dallas Cowboys.
Linebacker: Ted Hendricks, 6’7”. The Daily Dose loves Ted Hendricks. We named him to our list of the best linebackers in history, best linebacking trios, and greatest Raiders. The Stork won four Super Bowls. He also played in 215 consecutive games, eight Pro Bowls, and seven AFC championships. A rangy madman, Hendricks could tackle in the open field, cover, and rush the passer.
Cornerback: Brandon Browner, 6’4”. Browner won Super Bowls with Seattle and New England as well as a Grey Cup with the CFL Calgary Stampeders. In Seattle, he played opposite 6’3” Richard Sherman, forming the tallest cornerback tandem in league history.
Safety: Pat Watkins, 6’5”. Taller than most linebackers, Watkins played in 49 consecutive games at Florida State. After running the 40 in 4.2 at the NFL Combine, Dallas made him a fifth-round pick in 2006. Watkins played three seasons with the Cowboys and one with the Chargers before bolting for the CFL in 2012.
Kicker: Cornelious Joseph Dennis O’Donoghue, 6’6”. Born and raised in Ireland, where his father played for the national field hockey team, Neil O’Donoghue played collegiately at Auburn, where he booted a 57-yard field goal – still a school record. Although his career FG percentage was less than 60 percent, the gangly Irishman managed to play nine NFL seasons. His best came with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1984, where he scored a franchise-record 117 points.
Punter: Pat McInally, 6’6”. A wide receiver/punter at Harvard, McInally is the first Crimson grad to play in either the Pro Bowl or Super Bowl. He did both in 1981. The only player in NFL history to score a perfect 50 on the Wonderlic test, he played with the Cincinnati Bengals from 1976 to 1985. McInally was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016.