The Five Greatest Defensive Linemen in NFL History?
5. “Mean” Joe Green: Green was a huge part of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ famed “Steel Curtain” Opposing offenses were suffocated by that great defensive line, and Green was the best player among that group. Teams could not run or pass against him, and he also helped the Steelers win four Super Bowl titles in his career. Green may not have the stats like the others, but his presence was second to none in his playing career.
4. Michael Strahan: Strahan was a 7 time Pro Bowler and 6 time All-Pro during his 15 year NFL career with the New York Giants. He holds the NFL single-season sack record with 22.5 in 2001 and is also 5th on the all-time sack list with 141.5 career sacks. In 2007 he led the New York Giants to a Super Bowl victory against the undefeated New England Patriots. He was a huge reason for the win as the Giants defensive line harassed QB Tom Brady all game and did not allow him time to scan the field. Without Strahan’s presence, the Giants most likely lose the Super Bowl.
3. Deacon Jones: Deacon Jones came up with the phrase “sacking the QB”, and he was one of the most physically imposing players the NFL has ever seen. He would throw offensive lineman around like ragdolls and then tackle the RB or QB with relentless aggression. If Jones had played in today’s league, he would be fined and suspended a lot because he was just that ferocious with his famous close-line tackles and arm swipes to the helmet to beat offensive linemen. Unofficially, Jones finished his career with 173.5 career sacks and in 5 seasons he averaged over 20 sacks. Jones was an 8 time All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection, and his style of play changed the game of football forever.
2. Bruce Smith: Bruce Smith is the NFL’s all time leading sack leader with 200 career sacks. That is two more than Reggie White and 40 more than 3rd place Kevin Greene. Smith also holds the NFL record for most seasons with 10 or more sacks as he accomplished that in 13 seasons. He helped the Buffalo Bills reach four consecutive Super Bowls, a feat that may never be done again. He also won NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times.The amazing thing about Smith was that he played in a 3-4 system most of his career, which is not typically geared towards the defensive ends sacking the QB, rather the outside linebackers standing straight up and rushing off the edge. Bruce Smith is definitely one of the top two defensive lineman in NFL history.
1. Reggie White: The Minister of Defense is second all-time in career sacks with 198. White was a 13 All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection and also helped the Green Bay Packers win Super Bowl XXXI. He holds the Super Bowl record for sacks with three, and also was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice. In Philadelphia, he was part of the most dominant front four at the time with teammate Jerome Brown. White was constantly double teamed so he mastered both the swim move and bull rush to sack the QB. The thing that sets him apart from everyone else was his ability to stop the run as well. In 15 seasons, White had 1,112 total tackles, something unheard of from the defensive end position. Reggie White is the best defensive lineman to ever play, and one of the most dominant players in NFL history.