What Is A Split End In American Football

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What Is A Split End In Football? 

A split end is an offensive player whose primary function is to run pass routes. They line up at the end of the line of scrimmage—hence their name—and use their speed to get open and receive passes from the quarterback.

The split end is typically one of the two wide receivers on a team (the other being a flanker). The split end usually lines up farther away from the offensive line than the flanker. 

The Role Of A Split End 

The role of a split end is to catch passes downfield and gain yards for their team after receptions. They also block for running plays when necessary.

Knowing how to run pass routes effectively is especially important for this position. They must be able to get open quickly and reliably for their quarterback to trust them with difficult throws. As such, good route-running skills are important for any good receiver. 

Some Famous Split Ends 

There have been many great split ends throughout NFL history, including Hall-of-Famers like Jerry Rice, Steve Largent, and Michael Irvin. More recently, some standout performers, such as Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and DeAndre Hopkins, have been in this position. These players all possess elite speed and agility and great hands that allow them to make difficult catches consistently. 

Split End Vs. Flanker In Football

The split end is typically the receiver who lines up on the outside of the formation, furthest away from the sideline. He is usually responsible for running deep routes downfield and catching long passes.

On the other hand, the flanker lines up closer to the sideline and runs shorter routes. They are often used as possession receivers, relying on him to catch passes in traffic and move the chains for his team.

Flankers are usually shorter and quicker than split ends. This allows them to create separation from defenders and make plays in traffic. However, their lack of size and speed can sometimes be a disadvantage when it comes to getting open deep downfield.


Split ends play an important role in any football offense. Their ability to get open quickly and reliably makes them invaluable weapons in any offensive system. Understanding what they do can give insight into why certain teams are successful—or not so successful—on offense.