Defensive ends ("DE") in a 4–3 defense
Defensive ends ("DE") in a 4–3 defense
Outside linebackers ("OLB") in a 3–4 defense
Outside linebackers ("OLB") in a 3–4 defense

Edge rusher (alternately edge defender or simply edge) is a term designating a position in gridiron football. Some analysts consider "edge rusher" to be its own position entirely.[1]


Players considered to be edge rushers are usually 4–3 defensive ends or 3–4 outside linebackers. Note that 3–4 outside linebackers often act as an extension of the defensive line, in that they will attack the offensive tackles or blocking tight ends on the majority of their snaps under a majority of 3–4 schemes, though it is not uncommon to see them drop back and play a more traditional 4–3 linebacker role as well.[2]

One reason the word "edge" is used in the term "edge rusher" is that edge often refers to the area outside of offensive tackles, but within a couple of yards of the line of scrimmage. While other positions will rarely be referred to as edge rushers, other than 4–3 defensive ends and 3–4 outside linebackers, it is common for defensive backs, traditional linebackers, and even defensive tackles to occasionally play the position on a play-to-play basis.[3]

Notable players

Notable edge rushers of the National Football League (NFL) as of the early 2020s include:[4] Each player's traditional position is noted in parentheses.


  1. ^ Holler, John (April 11, 2017). "NFL vocabulary is changing".
  2. ^ Schalter, Ty (August 8, 2012). "4-3 vs. 3-4: Showcasing the Biggest Differences in the NFL Pass Rushes".
  3. ^ "ITP Glossary: Set The Edge". January 12, 2016.
  4. ^ Wilson, Ryan (July 7, 2020). "Ranking top 10 EDGE rushers, defensive linemen in NFL: TJ Watt, Aaron Donald lead the way". CBS Sports. Retrieved November 24, 2020.