Page of Fame: Edge Rushers
Our trip down memory lane brings us to the best single-season performances seen from the league's edge rushers since PFF began.
Page of Fame: Edge Rushers
Welcome to the Pro Football Focus Page of Fame for edge rushers, where only the best overall regular season performances during our time grading are mentioned.
If this is your first visit to a “PFF PoF” then the rules are pretty simple. The highest grades from the regular season make the list, and at the end of every year we update.
Anything over a +30.0 grade for this position will get the recognition it deserves!
(Note: Because the role of players like Von Miller and Kamerion Wimbley most closely resembles that of a 3-4 outside linebacker they have been put into this category so as not to distort grades elsewhere while having their grades re-normalized in the process. Their grades will not be identical to what is on the site as a result.)
1. Von Miller, 2012, DEN: +68.6
Pass Rushing: +51.9, Run Defense: +23.2, Penalties: -5.3
If his rookie season laid down a marker, than what was his sophomore year? Miller was near unstoppable, blowing up running plays in the Broncos’ base defense and destroying right tackles in their sub package. He would lead the league with 86 combined sacks, hits and hurries while only two other players would have more tackles for a loss than him.
2. Tamba Hali, 2010, KC: +49.0
Pass Rushing: +51.3, Run Defense: -5.4, Penalties: +3.7
If anyone doubted Tamba Hali heading into the 2010 season, it didn’t take him long to prove them wrong. With a phenomenal display of pass rushing that would lead him to the highest grade of all 3-4 outside linebackers, Hali earned himself a deserved big contract. His 97 quarterback disruptions were the most any player achieved, and made it easy to excuse his sub-standard work in the run game.
3. Cameron Wake, 2011, MIA: +41.1
Pass Rushing: +31.0, Run Defense: +8.0, Penalties: +2.4
In his second year as a starter Wake developed into a more complete player. The pressure was still there, as evidenced by a career best (at that point) 81 quarterback disruptions, and he took his game to another level against the run. It was good enough to get him the highest grade of any 3-4 outside linebacker in 2011.
4. James Harrison, 2010, PIT: +40.7
Pass Rushing: +19.5, Run Defense: +19.7, Penalties: -3.9
What made Harrison so good in 2010 wasn’t just the hurting he put on quarterbacks. No, it was everything, regardless of what the Steelers asked him to do. A force on the edge, he was the top ranked 3-4 outside linebacker against the run and more then held his own in coverage.
5. Cameron Wake, 2010, MIA: +38.5
Pass Rushing: +32.2, Run Defense: +3.1, Penalties: +2.4
How would Wake hold up as a starter? Could he handle a full-time load? Would his production drop? Well, he was on the field for 932 snaps for the Dolphins and ended up our third ranked 3-4 outside linebacker, so what do you think? A pass rushing stud, his 64 quarterback disruptions were a taster of things to come.
6. DeMarcus Ware, 2010, DAL: +38.4
Pass Rushing: +36.9, Run Defense: +1.4, Penalties: -2.2
The run defense was starting to wane, but the pass rush was as productive as ever. In fact, only Tamba Hali would rank higher in this regard as Ware continued to hassle quarterbacks. By the end of the season he had 75 combined sacks, hits and hurries, second-most in the league.
7. James Harrison, 2008, PIT: +35.6
Pass Rushing: +29.8, Run Defense: +4.1, Penalties: +1.1
Way back when we started this little mission of ours, one 3-4 outside linebacker stood out. His name was James Harrison and the defensive player of the year would go on to lead his positional rankings. With some ferocious pass rushing, nobody could contend with his league-leading pass rushing productivity score.
8. Aldon Smith, 2011, SF: +34.8
Pass Rushing: +31.5, Run Defense: +2.8, Penalties: -0.2
The scary thing about this year was that Smith did all of his damage from the 49ers’ sub-package defense. That limited his playing time yet he still picked up 64 combined sacks, hits and hurries on 336 pass rushes, good for the best pass blocking efficiency score in the league.
9. Von Miller, 2011, DEN: +34.6
Pass Rushing: +24.3, Run Defense: +9.8, Penalties: -4.4
A rookie year that let us know a special player had entered the league. A late-season injury slowed him down, but from Day 1 he was generating pressure and making plays all over the field. His 60 quarterback disruptions were impressive, but his ability to contribute on running downs was nearly as noteworthy.
10. Lamarr Woodley, 2009, PIT: +31.3
Pass Rushing: +22.8, Run Defense: +8.8, Penalties: +0.7
Wanting out of the shadow of James Harrison, Woodley made a name for himself with a big 2009 that saw him finish as our highest ranked 3-4 outside linebacker. Though his work against the run was fine, it was his pass rushing that saw him pick up the highest pass rushing productivity score, that was the difference maker.
11. DeMarcus Ware, 2009, DAL: +30.2
Pass Rushing: +20.5, Run Defense: +7.8, Penalties: -1.1
Ware would narrowly miss out on the top spot in the 3-4 outside linebacker rankings, but it was still a fine year. As has often been the case he would lead his peers with the total number of sacks, hits and hurries he managed while also contributed against the run.
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