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8.5k voters

The Greatest Defensive Ends of All Time

Updated April 5, 2020 55.2k votes 8.5k voters 140.7k 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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  • 1
    Reggie White
    2,872
    844

    Reggie White

    Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers
  • 2
    Bruce Smith
    2,134
    791

    Bruce Smith

    Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins
  • 3
    Joe Greene
    1,588
    383

    Joe Greene

    Pittsburgh Steelers, North Texas Mean Green football
  • 4
    Deacon Jones
    1,768
    946

    Deacon Jones

    Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils football, Los Angeles Rams
  • 5
    J. J. Watt
    2,999
    1,167

    J. J. Watt

    Houston Texans, Wisconsin Badgers football
  • 6
    Howie Long
    1,232
    646

    Howie Long

    Oakland Raiders, Villanova Wildcats football
  • 7
    Julius Peppers
    1,375
    600

    Julius Peppers

    North Carolina Tar Heels football, Chicago Bears
  • 8
    Michael Strahan
    1,647
    914

    Michael Strahan

    Texas Southern Tigers football, New York Giants
  • 9
    Ed Jones
    709
    361

    Ed Jones

    Tennessee State Tigers football, Dallas Cowboys
  • 10
    Jason Taylor
    673
    336

    Jason Taylor

    Washington Redskins, Akron Zips football
  • 11
    DeMarcus Ware
    808
    459

    DeMarcus Ware

    Troy Trojans football, Dallas Cowboys
  • 12
    Jack Youngblood
    954
    569

    Jack Youngblood

    Los Angeles Rams
  • 13
    Richard Dent
    736
    420

    Richard Dent

    Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears
  • 14
    Charles Haley
    795
    470

    Charles Haley

    San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys
  • 15
    Merlin Olsen
    395
    178

    Merlin Olsen

    Los Angeles Rams, Utah State Aggies football
  • 16
    Dwight Freeney
    645
    365

    Dwight Freeney

    Indianapolis Colts, Syracuse Orange football
  • 17
    Jared Allen
    893
    629

    Jared Allen

    Idaho State Bengals football, Kansas City Chiefs
  • 18
    Carl Eller
    482
    321

    Carl Eller

    Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings
  • 19
    Bubba Smith
    412
    236

    Bubba Smith

    Baltimore Colts, Houston Oilers
  • 20
    L. C. Greenwood
    477
    330

    L. C. Greenwood

    Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 21
    Lyle Alzado
    373
    243

    Lyle Alzado

    Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders
  • 22
    Jim Marshall
    458
    316

    Jim Marshall

    Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings
  • 23
    Gino Marchetti
    404
    291

    Gino Marchetti

    Dallas Texans, Baltimore Colts
  • 24
    Lee Roy Selmon
    529
    469

    Lee Roy Selmon

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oklahoma Sooners football
  • 25
    Chris Doleman
    373
    301

    Chris Doleman

    Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons