If you have heard the term ‘edge’ is used to describe a defensive player in football and wondered what position that is, what role they play in the defensive line, and how that role differs from other defensive linemen- well, wonder no more!
The edge position in football is the term given to a defensive player that lines up on the outside the last offensive player on the line of scrimmage. These players are sometimes called Defensive Ends or Edge Rushers, but the role of the edge player is a little different from that of the defensive end.
Let’s get suited up and head out onto the grid to learn more about the edge and the vital role this position plays in the defensive game and check out some of the best’ advantages’ that have played the game as those still playing.
What Is The Edge Position In Football
The edge position or edge rusher describes a player positioned on the furthest’ edge’ of the defensive line, and their role is to rush the pass from the outside of the play. Remember that this is a defensive position, so wide receivers, running backs, or tight ends that are split wide are not considered edge players.
The edge player’s role is to rush the quarterback from the wide outside, and this term may also be applied to linebackers and defensive ends that take up positions on the outside channels in the line of scrimmage.
The edge player plays different roles depending on whether there is an offensive rushing or passing play, so let’s look at what the edge player would do under these two scenarios.
The Edge Player’s Role On A Passing Play
The main role of the edge player on passing plays is to utilize the outside space to rush the quarterback. Edge players will usually face the offensive tackle on the snap, and their job is to get around the tackle and make the QB’s life difficult.
When the defense opts not to use a blitz rush, the edge player will be the furthest outside rusher, and because of this position, they often find themselves operating in open space.
Edge rushers are greatly valued by their team, and they are usually the best rushers on the team and, in many cases, are the highest-paid rushers on the defensive unit as they have the best chance of reaching and sacking the quarterback.
Edge players often have the leading defensive stats regarding hurries, pressures, and sacks. A fast, agile, strong, and game-savvy edge often results in turnovers, interceptions, or loss of yardage by the offense.
The Edge’s Role In A Running Play
When the offensive executest a running play, the edge will not rush but rather cover the outside channels and ensure the ball carrier does not get past them. In running plays, edges often play a shepherding role, guiding the ball carrier back in the field, where other defensive players can tackle them.
This role in rushing plays becomes more of a zone defense, where the edge player can cover the line’s far side and create a no-go zone for the ball carrier. But if the ball carrier takes the outside, the edge may be called in to make the tackle.
To make it more difficult for the edge rusher to make a tackle, the offensive line may shift players out to block the edge and create the possibility of gaining yards outside.
What Players Are Considered As Edge Players
The term ‘edge’ is used to describe the position and the role of defensive players, so you may not hear commentators referring to edge rushers as a dedicated position. The two defensive positions are commonly considered edge rushers.
In a 4-3 defense configuration with four defensive linemen and three linebackers, the defensive ends are considered edge players as they will line up on the furthest side of the defensive line. This defensive structure means that the two defensive ends will line up on the outside of the formation, with the four linemen taking the center field.
Where there is a 3-4 defensive formation, there would be four outside linebackers available to rush the quarterback. Four linebackers on defense would be lined up wide on the left and right of the formation , so the outside linebackers would be considered the edge rushers.
Edge rushers are not an official position, and while this term is becoming more popular, it is unlikely it will ever be ‘coined’ as an official position as the existing positions like defensive ends and linebackers play the role of the edge defender depending on the defensive base used on the play.
Sacking, harassing, and hurrying quarterbacks are the edge player’s bread and butter, and getting into the backfield and disrupting passing plays are where they shine on the field and make the greatest impact in the game.
Their role in running plays is also critical. Here, their speed and power come into play whether they are required to block a running zone simply and whether they ensure that the ball carrier does not pass them or redirect the carrier back infield, or they have to make a tackle on the outside, edge players are the ‘ninjas’ of the defensive line.
Who Are And Were Some Of The Best Edge Players In Football
Some of the best edge players in the NFL today are TJ Watts from the Steelers, Myles Garret from the Cleveland Browns, the 49’ers Nick Bosa, Joey Bosa from the LA Charger, and Micah Parsons of the Dallas Cowboys.
Some of the greatest names in defense played this position, and Laurence Taylor of the Giants was considered the greatest defensive player of all time. Also on that list would be players like Bruce Smith of the Bills and Redskins, and Reggie White of the Green Bay Packers.
Keeping an eye on the motions of the edge rushers will tell you the type of play they are looking to execute, and understanding what they do and how will make watching your team’s defense that much more interesting.
The edge rusher is one of the most important positions in defense, and they are often the most exciting players to watch during a game, so now you know what to look for on the field and where to find them, you can be more aware of the role they play and why those players are selected for the position.