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8.8k voters

The Greatest Defensive Ends of All Time

Updated April 5, 2020 53.0k votes 8.8k voters 144.0k 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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  • 1
    2,719
    807

    Reggie White

    Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers
  • 2
    2,039
    770

    Bruce Smith

    Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins
  • 3
    1,526
    394

    Joe Greene

    Pittsburgh Steelers, North Texas Mean Green football
  • 4
    1,687
    875

    Deacon Jones

    Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils football, Los Angeles Rams
  • 5
    2,779
    1,134

    J. J. Watt

    Arizona Cardinals
  • 6
    1,294
    603

    Julius Peppers

    North Carolina Tar Heels football, Chicago Bears
  • 7
    1,181
    620

    Howie Long

    Oakland Raiders, Villanova Wildcats football
  • 8
    1,575
    859

    Michael Strahan

    Texas Southern Tigers football, New York Giants
  • 9
    687
    347

    Ed Jones

    Tennessee State Tigers football, Dallas Cowboys
  • 10
    931
    538

    Jack Youngblood

    Los Angeles Rams
  • 11
    716
    402

    Richard Dent

    Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears
  • 12
    409
    177

    Merlin Olsen

    Los Angeles Rams, Utah State Aggies football
  • 13
    756
    441

    Charles Haley

    San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys
  • 14
    650
    332

    Jason Taylor

    Washington Redskins, Akron Zips football
  • 15
    737
    450

    DeMarcus Ware

    Troy Trojans football, Dallas Cowboys
  • 16
    625
    347

    Dwight Freeney

    Indianapolis Colts, Syracuse Orange football
  • 17
    470
    298

    Carl Eller

    Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings
  • 18
    389
    220

    Bubba Smith

    Baltimore Colts, Houston Oilers
  • 19
    844
    580

    Jared Allen

    Idaho State Bengals football, Kansas City Chiefs
  • 20
    366
    224

    Lyle Alzado

    Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders
  • 21
    457
    307

    L. C. Greenwood

    Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 22
    394
    270

    Gino Marchetti

    Dallas Texans, Baltimore Colts
  • 23
    446
    290

    Jim Marshall

    Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings
  • 24
    511
    426

    Lee Roy Selmon

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oklahoma Sooners football
  • 25
    314
    224

    Doug Atkins

    Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears