Football Defensive End

Football Defensive End

The defensive end is one of the many defensive positions in football. Nowadays, many defensive ends are seen as hybrids between linebackers and defensive linemen. Depending on the formation being used, defensive ends can be critical to a team’s defense, as they are in a prime position to tackle quarterbacks and running backs.

Defensive End

The defensive end (DE) in football is a defensive player positioned on the line of scrimmage. In most defenses, these players are lined up outside or inside of each offensive tackle (OT). Over the years, outside linebackers and defensive ends have merged to create a hybrid edge-rusher position. They are usually faster and more athletic than defensive tackles, but are not as great in coverage as inside linebackers.

On run plays, the defensive end moves forward enough to ensure that the run play does not get outside of them. They are tasked with keeping the play inside, where there is more defensive help. If it is a pass play, they must try to get past blockers fast enough to sack the quarterback. The more pressure they are able to put on the quarterback, the easier the defensive secondary’s job will be. Defensive ends usually rack up the most sacks on a team.

Stances and Athleticism

For the most part, these defenders will line up in a three-point stance with two feet on the ground and a hand in the dirt. Depending on the defensive formation, they may line up in a two-point stance, practically standing up, in an effort to get into the backfield quicker.

Defensive ends tend to be more athletic than other members of the defensive line. Their average weight ranges from 245-260 pounds, but of course, this varies. The reason they need to be so agile is because they have to get around big offensive linemen to make a play as opposed to clogging lanes up the middle.

Notable Players

Listed below are some of the most notable defensive ends to ever play in the NFL.

  • Chris Doleman
  • Deacon Jones
  • Gino Marchetti
  • Bruce Smith
  • Michael Strahan
  • JJ Watt
  • Reggie White


What does DE stand for in football?

DE is the positional abbreviation used for a defensive end. This abbreviation makes it easier to show what position a player lines up as in box scores and roster sheets. These defensive ends are often further abbreviated as “RE” for the right defensive end and “LE” for the left defensive end.

What does a defensive end do?

A defensive end is one of the most crucial defenders on a football team, as they are among the primary tacklers on the defensive line. Their biggest job is to break through the blocks made by the offensive line in order to penetrate towards the player holding the ball, which could be either the quarterback or a running back. Defensive ends must be proficient at resisting and pushing through blocks, and must also have the speed and agility necessary to keep up with and anticipate the direction of a ball-runner to make a tackle. Defensive ends should also be ready to study an opposing team’s quarterback, as they are in the best position to sack him in the event of the offensive line breaking while he is in the pocket.

How much do NFL defensive ends make?

Defensive ends rank in the middle of the pack in terms of average salary, bringing in an average of $2.5 million. While this number is near the middle of defensive player averages, some of the highest paid defensive players in the league are defensive ends. Considering only true defensive ends (excluding edge rushers or outside linebackers), four players rank in the top-ten among defensive players. As the league continues to shift towards passing, paying a premium for players to get to the quarterback is becoming more common.