A rover is a defensive position in football which is a combination of a safety and a linebacker position. They are generally used as a fifth defensive back in place of a nickel corner. Their size and athleticism allow them to cover skill positions and contribute to the running game.
While Rovers tend to be used more in college football, they have also been used sparingly in the NFL.
Rovers play a unique role in defense because of their combination of safety and linebacker skills.
In general, rovers are tweeners, meaning their size and skills place them in between two different positions. While this is usually a negative description of a player, when it comes to rovers, it is a positive.
It allows the player to play like a safety while having the size of a linebacker to participate in the run game.
Generally, rovers cover running backs and tight ends on passing downs, since they lack the speed to cover wide receivers split out near the sideline.
In Football, What does a Rover Do?
As you now know what a rover is in football, you might be wondering what they do.
The following sections will discuss some of the main defense responsibilities of rovers.
Covering Skill Positions
In a defensive formation with five defensive backs, a rover covers running backs and tight ends.
With five defensive backs on the field, the team typically has only two linebackers to prevent the opposing team from effectively passing the ball.
The Rover needs to be able to cover the larger players on the field. In general, the scout will cover players lining up in the slot or along the offensive line.
It is possible for the rover position to provide effective coverage against potential receivers due to its safety traits.
Spying the Quarterback
A rover’s other job is to keep an eye on the quarterback, since dual-threat quarterbacks have seen much success in both the NFL and NCAA recently.
To stop these quarterbacks, teams need players who can keep up and tackle when necessary.
Nickel corners are often fast enough to match these quarterbacks, but undersized when it comes to tackling them.
Compared to a nickel corner, a rover has a much larger build and is able to consistently bring down the quarterback because of this extra size.
It is possible to shut down a dual–threat quarterback with a reliable runner.
Using their Size in the Run Game
With five defensive backs on the field, the defense is going to have to take off a linebacker to contribute to the running game.
With only two linebackers on the field, it may be difficult for the defense to effectively fight off blocks and stop the run.
When it comes to stopping the run, using a rover instead of a nickel corner makes the defense more solid.
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