Helmet manufacturers have more than doubled the number of position-specific models that will be available to NFL players in 2024, according to annual helmet safety rankings released Tuesday by the NFL and NFL Players Association.

Eight of the 12 top-ranked helmets are designed for either quarterbacks or offensive/defensive linemen. They include multiple new manufacturers — including Riddell, whose Axiom 3D model is ranked No. 1 — and are the result of a push from the league to spur more activity in the space.

“It’s a fantastic pace of innovation,” said Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy. “The players in those position groups will have a lot of options that they haven’t had before.”

The NFL and NFLPA first approved position-specific helmets for linemen in 2022 and quarterbacks in 2023. Last season, there were a total of three approved models — two for linemen and one for quarterbacks. They were worn by nine quarterbacks and 20 linemen in total. Miller said those numbers were a “good start for quarterbacks” but “a little more modest than we would have liked” for linemen.

“As more manufacturers are building those helmets for linemen, I think that there’s an opportunity to grow those numbers,” he said. In general, helmets designed for linemen focus additional protection at the front of the model to account for the sub-concussive contact they typically experience during the initial moments after the snap, said Dr. Annie Bailey Good, a senior mechanical engineer at Biocore, the NFL’s engineering partner.

“Time will tell” whether such designs make a substantive impact on the NFL’s concussion numbers, said Thad Ide, Riddell’s executive vice president of research and product development. Riddell was one of several manufacturers this year to offer position-specific helmets. Its Axiom 3D model has three versions: one for quarterbacks, one for offensive and defensive linemen and one that is standard for all positions.

“To be good partners with the NFL and to provide the best protection for their players, we sort of followed suit,” Ide said. “We absorbed those test methods and ways of evaluating the helmets and tuned some of our helmets accordingly to perform in the quarterback sense or the offensive and defensive line sense.”

Meanwhile, Miller said the NFL and NFLPA are still exploring the causes and potential adjustments after the helmet of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes cracked during a playoff game in frigid temperatures last season. New testing procedures could emerge as a result, in addition to some different game-day protocols.


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