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8.7k voters

The Greatest Defensive Ends of All Time

Updated April 5, 2020 54.7k votes 8.7k voters 142.7k 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
    2,819
    828

    Reggie White

    Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers
  • Bruce Smith2
    2,098
    786

    Bruce Smith

    Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins
  • Joe Greene3
    1,581
    391

    Joe Greene

    Pittsburgh Steelers, North Texas Mean Green football
  • Deacon Jones4
    1,743
    911

    Deacon Jones

    Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils football, Los Angeles Rams
  • J. J. Watt5
    2,906
    1,163

    J. J. Watt

    Houston Texans, Wisconsin Badgers football
  • Julius Peppers6
    1,344
    614

    Julius Peppers

    North Carolina Tar Heels football, Chicago Bears
  • Howie Long7
    1,218
    641

    Howie Long

    Oakland Raiders, Villanova Wildcats football
  • Michael Strahan8
    1,620
    896

    Michael Strahan

    Texas Southern Tigers football, New York Giants
  • Jack Youngblood9
    953
    554

    Jack Youngblood

    Los Angeles Rams
  • Ed Jones10
    702
    362

    Ed Jones

    Tennessee State Tigers football, Dallas Cowboys
  • Richard Dent11
    736
    416

    Richard Dent

    Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears
  • Jason Taylor12
    669
    341

    Jason Taylor

    Washington Redskins, Akron Zips football
  • Merlin Olsen13
    417
    179

    Merlin Olsen

    Los Angeles Rams, Utah State Aggies football
  • Charles Haley14
    783
    464

    Charles Haley

    San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys
  • Dwight Freeney15
    644
    360

    Dwight Freeney

    Indianapolis Colts, Syracuse Orange football
  • DeMarcus Ware16
    780
    466

    DeMarcus Ware

    Troy Trojans football, Dallas Cowboys
  • Carl Eller17
    484
    312

    Carl Eller

    Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings
  • Jared Allen18
    882
    607

    Jared Allen

    Idaho State Bengals football, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Bubba Smith19
    403
    230

    Bubba Smith

    Baltimore Colts, Houston Oilers
  • Jim Marshall20
    462
    305

    Jim Marshall

    Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings
  • Gino Marchetti21
    408
    280

    Gino Marchetti

    Dallas Texans, Baltimore Colts
  • Lyle Alzado22
    374
    235

    Lyle Alzado

    Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders
  • L. C. Greenwood23
    474
    318

    L. C. Greenwood

    Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Lee Roy Selmon24
    526
    449

    Lee Roy Selmon

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oklahoma Sooners football
  • Chris Doleman25
    374
    291

    Chris Doleman

    Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons