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Best Football Cleats for Every Player

Academy Staff
9 min read

Footbal players playing a game with the best football cleats
With training camps in full swing and the bright stadium lights of another football season just around the corner, now is the perfect time to make sure you’re properly outfitted for a safe and successful season. To kick your season off right, start from the ground up – by finding the best football cleats to match your position and preferences.

Top football brands like Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour offer some of the most feature-packed footwear on the market. But with today’s vast selection of specifics and styles, you might feel a bit overwhelmed with all the choices. So what separates good cleats from the very best football cleats?

Summary of the 2022 Best Football Cleats by Category

Our experts at Academy Sports + Outdoors have compiled this in-depth list of our best men’s football cleats. Keep reading to score all the details on why these styles are the season’s hottest draft picks.

Academy Football Cleat Summary
Category Our Pick
Best Overall Football Cleats Nike Men's Vapor Edge Pro 360 Cleats
Best Nike Football Cleats Nike Men's Vapor Edge Speed 360 Football Cleats
Best Adidas Football Cleats Adidas Men’s adizero Football Cleats
Best Under Armour Football Cleats Under Armour Men's Highlight MC TX LE Football Cleats
Best Receiver Football Cleats Under Armour Men's UA Blur Smoke MC Football Cleats
Best Lineman Football Cleats Nike Men's Force Savage Shark 2 Football Cleats
Best Running Back Football Cleats Adidas Men’s Freak 22 Team Football Cleats
Best High-Top Football Cleats Under Armour Adults' Highlight MC Football Cleats
Best Value Football Cleats Nike Men's Alpha Menace 3 Shark Football Cleats

In-Depth Football Cleats Overview

Best Overall Football Cleats: Nike Men's Vapor Edge Pro 360 Cleats

Best Overall Football Cleats: Nike Men's Vapor Edge Pro 360 Cleats

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or you’re just gearing up for your first-ever season, these football cleats will give you the confidence you need to run past the competition and complete the game-winning play. These cleats are especially great for players who rely on speed and agility, since their TPU outsoles provide the traction that wide receivers, cornerbacks, and safeties need to move down the field quickly and effortlessly.


  • Pros: Ghost lacing system keeps your feet feeling snug, wide stud placement and TPU outsoles provide superior traction, NikeSkin overlay flaunts a bold style, and elastic ankle cuff grants easy movement and breathability.
  • Cons: These cleats are engineered to be lightweight, so they’re not ideal for players who prefer a bit of weight or for contact-heavy players who depend on maximum stability and ankle support in their cleats.

Best Nike Football Cleats: Nike Men's Vapor Edge Speed 360 Football Cleats

Best Nike Football Cleats: Nike Men's Vapor Edge Speed 360 Football Cleats

If you’re a die-hard Nike fan looking for the best cleat option to help you quickly weave through the field, these cleats are sure to be your MVPs. With their low-profile design, this pair is perfect for any wide receiver, cornerback, or safety looking to take their game to the next level.


  • Pros: NikeSkin overlay promotes durability and style, fabric uppers give athletes a snug and secure feel, wide stud placement and TPU outsoles provide superior traction, and attached heel pads provide cushioned comfort.
  • Cons: Not suitable for contact-heavy players who need more stability and ankle support in their cleats.

Best Adidas Football Cleats: Adidas Men’s adizero Football Cleats

Best Adidas Football Cleats: Adidas Men’s adizero Football Cleats

For our Adidas fans, this cleat provides lightweight comfort and grip to help you charge off the line of scrimmage. The TPU studded outsole helps deliver traction and assists in making any cut on the field. Its lightweight mesh upper with lace closure gives you a locked-in feel to help you speed into the endzone with confidence.


  • Pros: Lightweight mesh-overlay upper enhances airflow and promotes speed, while the TPU studded outsole provides superior traction.
  • Cons: This cleat is versatile, so it’s likely not the best fit for lineman players who rely on their football cleats to provide them the best coverage, ankle support, and maximum stability.

Best Under Armour Football Cleats: Under Armour Men's Highlight MC TX LE Football Cleats

Best Under Armour Football Cleats: Under Armour Men's Highlight MC TX LE Football Cleats

These football cleats are designed to help you effortlessly move and pivot swiftly down the field — perfect for Under Armour fans! The SuperFoam insoles provide comfortable support, while the proprietary UA Scatter Traction gives you all the grip you need to turn on a dime as you weave past your defender.


  • Pros: SuperFoam insoles promote comfortable wear, UA Scatter Traction provides superior traction and grip, and laceless fold-down collar provides added support with quick and easy entry.
  • Cons: This mid-to-high structure of this cleat would not be suited for plays who prefer more ankle mobility or a lower cleat.

Best Receiver Football Cleats: Under Armour Men's UA Blur Smoke MC Football Cleats

Best Receiver Football Cleats: Under Armour Men's UA Blur Smoke MC Football Cleats

These cleats are best for any wide receiver who is looking to blast past defenders and never be caught. Weighing in at 8.8 oz, this model is Under Armour's lightest cleat and one of the overall lightest on the market, helping any receiver gain the traction and speed they need to leave the other team in the dust.


  • Pros: Lightweight low-top cleats promote speed, track-spike-inspired plate gives superior traction, SuperFoam insole provides cushioned comfort, and soft heel pocket increases foot security.
  • Cons: The low-top structure of this cleat does not offer the best stability for linemen or players who prefer more ankle support.

Best Lineman Football Cleats: Nike Men's Force Savage Shark 2 Football Cleats

Best Lineman Football Cleats: Nike Men's Force Savage Shark 2 Football Cleats

These cleats are perfect for linemen who value keeping their feet comfortable, secure, and supported for the entire game. The webbed uppers on these high-top cleats aid the lacing system to lock your feet securely into the shoes, while the Nike FastFlex outsole gives you the necessary traction to control the line of scrimmage.


  • Pros: Nike FastFlex outsole provides traction, injected Phylon midsole offers plush comfort, webbed synthetic leather upper adds durability and secures your foot into place, and heel and tongue pull tabs allow for easy on/off.
  • Cons: While this cleat is most suitable for larger, more contact-heavy players, it's not the ideal choice for someone who prefers a lightweight, breathable, low-top cleat.

Best Running Back Football Cleats: Adidas Men’s Freak 22 Team Football Cleats

Best Running Back Football Cleats: Adidas Men’s Freak 22 Team Football Cleats

The Adidas Freak 22 is the perfect shoe for any running back looking for a lightweight, sturdy, and comfortable ride in a cleat. These cleats are not only made from recycled materials, but offer a cushioned first-to-last step with the Adidas Bounce midsole.


  • Pros: Primegreen recycled uppers resist wear and tear, lightweight Adidas Bounce midsoles and foam heel pads offer cushioned comfort, and adaptive lacing system offers snug security.
  • Cons: High-contact players who need maximum stability and support won’t likely find these football cleats ideal for their position or preferred comfort on the field.

Best High-Top Football Cleats: Under Armour Adults' Highlight MC Football Cleats

Best High-Top Football Cleats: Under Armour Adults' Highlight MC Football Cleats

Whether you are a lineman or a running back, this cleat will give you the ankle support and traction you need to complete even the toughest plays. The SuperFoam insoles provide an unmatched shock-absorbency, while the UA Scatter Traction outsoles supply multidirectional grip to help you stand your ground.


  • Pros: SuperFoam insoles provide next-level shock absorption, UA Scatter Traction helps provide multidirectional grip, and the fold-down collar design gives you a custom look and snug fit.
  • Cons: While this cleat is most suitable for larger, more contact-heavy players, it's not the ideal choice for someone who prefers a lightweight, breathable, low-top cleat.

Best Value Football Cleats: Nike Men's Alpha Menace 3 Shark Football Cleats

Best Value Football Cleats: Nike Men's Alpha Menace 3 Shark Football Cleats

If you’re looking for the best football cleat available at a lower price point, these cleats may be the ones for you. With Nike Fastflex technology, the Alpha Menace 3 Shark features an injected Phylon foam midsole for cushioned comfort. Its synthetic uppers offer durability and containment for players in many positions.


  • Pros: Nike Fastflex technology provides traction, molded front details foster more durable wear, heel tab promotes easy on/off, and an injected Phylon midsole offers plush comfort.
  • Cons: Though these cleats offer a lot, they won’t likely meet players with more strict cleat needs or preferences. If you are a player looking for today’s best technology, then you may want to look at the higher-tier football cleat models Nike offers.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Are football cleats and soccer cleats the same?

A. No! Football cleats and soccer cleats have key differences that make each ideal for its intended sport, including the following:


  • Football cleats contain a toe spike, which provides the extra traction necessary to block and forcibly push against a defender.
  • Football cleats also have a midsole and are generally made with thicker materials to provide extra stability and support; a soccer cleat forgoes a midsole and aims to give the player the most lightweight and responsive shoe possible.
  • Football cleats come in three different heights to provide varying degrees of ankle stability and protection (see the “How do I choose the best cleat for me?” answer below for more information); however, soccer cleats come only in low-profile designs to allow for maximum ball-maneuvering agility and speed.

Q. How do I choose the best cleat for me?

A. Finding the right cleat depends on the position you play and your individual needs. Cleats are offered in three different ankle heights:


  • Low-top cleat: A low-top cleat will generally be better for someone whose position requires speed and agility, as it allows for the greatest range of motion, but it also offers the least amount of ankle stability and protection.
  • Mid-top cleat: A mid-top cleat is somewhere in the middle of each of the previous options, as it allows for some ankle protection and some degree of free ankle movement.
  • High-top cleat: A high-top cleat will generally be better for someone whose position is more contact-heavy, as it protects more of the player’s ankle surface and provides more structured support.
For a more detailed look at how to choose the best cleats for your individual preferences and needs, check out this article.

Q. How do football cleats help players?

A. Football cleats help players in a variety of ways, including the following:


  • Since football is a high-impact contact sport, football cleats are built to provide protection and keep players’ feet and ankles injury-free.
  • The studs, or spikes, on the bottom of the cleats dig into the ground or turf to help players stay balanced (and vertical) when running, changing direction, making passes, blocking, or resisting tackle.

In addition to the general traction benefits that football cleats provide, there are different options of cleats designed for each position. Such cleats provide their own position-specific benefits much like the following examples:

  • Cleats designed for running backs, safeties, and other speedy positions keep players protected while allowing them to move quickly and freely.
  • Cleats designed for linemen and other contact-heavy positions help players remain steadily planted on the line.

Q. Besides football cleats, what other equipment do I need to start playing football?

A. If you’re gearing up for the football season, there are plenty of equipment pieces you should add to your roster on top of football cleats:


Regardless of your position, Academy Sports + Outdoors has cleats available for every position cleats available for every position that help to enhance your gameplay and to keep you feeling safe and protected.