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8.6k voters

The Greatest Defensive Ends of All Time

Updated April 5, 2020 56.7k votes 8.6k voters 142.0k views96 items

List RulesPlease rank the players based on their career accomplishments

When it comes to striking fear into an opposing offense, having a great defensive end can be a game changer. A lightning quick defensive end can cause chaos for offense by interrupting a quarterback's rhythm by rushing and hitting him. A great defensive end is double teamed most of the time, allowing for his counterpart to blow up an offense's scheme. A great defensive end isn't measured by stats, though having a lot of sacks certainly doesn't hurt his claim to being one of the greatest of all time.

There are a lot of familiar faces on the list of greatest defensive ends of all time. Famous defensive ends like Reggie White, Michael Strahan and Jack Youngblood are some of the toughest and menacing players in the league. White and Strahan were considered the best defensive ends of their generation. Strahan currently holds the single season record for sacks in a season. Youngblood cemented his status as the toughest player in the NFL when he played in Super Bowl XIV with a broken leg.

Selecting who the greatest defensive end of all time isn't easy, especially since most of these defensive ends either are in or will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But you can vote for who you feel is the best-ever on this Ultimate List.
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  • Reggie White1
    2,946
    865

    Reggie White

    Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers
  • Bruce Smith2
    2,184
    816

    Bruce Smith

    Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins
  • Joe Greene3
    1,641
    400

    Joe Greene

    Pittsburgh Steelers, North Texas Mean Green football
  • J. J. Watt4
    3,056
    1,197

    J. J. Watt

    Houston Texans, Wisconsin Badgers football
  • Deacon Jones5
    1,808
    961

    Deacon Jones

    Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils football, Los Angeles Rams
  • Julius Peppers6
    1,408
    631

    Julius Peppers

    North Carolina Tar Heels football, Chicago Bears
  • Howie Long7
    1,256
    669

    Howie Long

    Oakland Raiders, Villanova Wildcats football
  • Michael Strahan8
    1,688
    931

    Michael Strahan

    Texas Southern Tigers football, New York Giants
  • Jack Youngblood9
    986
    574

    Jack Youngblood

    Los Angeles Rams
  • Ed Jones10
    725
    373

    Ed Jones

    Tennessee State Tigers football, Dallas Cowboys
  • Richard Dent11
    763
    428

    Richard Dent

    Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears
  • Jason Taylor12
    697
    351

    Jason Taylor

    Washington Redskins, Akron Zips football
  • Merlin Olsen13
    422
    181

    Merlin Olsen

    Los Angeles Rams, Utah State Aggies football
  • Charles Haley14
    815
    480

    Charles Haley

    San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys
  • DeMarcus Ware15
    820
    482

    DeMarcus Ware

    Troy Trojans football, Dallas Cowboys
  • Dwight Freeney16
    665
    372

    Dwight Freeney

    Indianapolis Colts, Syracuse Orange football
  • Carl Eller17
    501
    323

    Carl Eller

    Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings
  • Jared Allen18
    919
    636

    Jared Allen

    Idaho State Bengals football, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Bubba Smith19
    421
    237

    Bubba Smith

    Baltimore Colts, Houston Oilers
  • Jim Marshall20
    475
    317

    Jim Marshall

    Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings
  • L. C. Greenwood21
    494
    333

    L. C. Greenwood

    Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Gino Marchetti22
    416
    294

    Gino Marchetti

    Dallas Texans, Baltimore Colts
  • Lyle Alzado23
    383
    246

    Lyle Alzado

    Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders
  • Lee Roy Selmon24
    545
    469

    Lee Roy Selmon

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oklahoma Sooners football
  • Chris Doleman25
    390
    302

    Chris Doleman

    Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons