football teams (american) The Greatest Defenders in NFL History  

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List Rules Defensive players based on their on-field achievements

This list of the greatest defenders in NFL history is here to decide definitively who is the best defender in NFL history. These are beasts of men who played for some of the best sports franchises ever and were (or are) among the best NFL players of all time. These NFL legends are all here, in one place, so you can vote on the best NFL defender to ever play football.

Some of these exceptional NFL players include the legendary Dick Butkus, "Mean" Joe Greene, and hard hitter-turned-coach Mike Singletary. Whatever it is that you factor into the skills of the best NFL defenders (speed, aggression, determination, stamina), these NFL players are the best at what they do from a defensive player standpoint.

What makes a great NFL defender? Who are the best NFL defenders of all time? Who is the top NFL defender in history? You decide! Vote for the NFL players you think make the biggest impact as defensive players and vote them up to the top of this list of the greatest defenders in NFL history. If you don't see your favorite NFL defender on this top NFL defenders list, make sure to add him so others can revel in his athletic glory. So who are the best defensive players in NFL history? Vote!

Check out more lists like the best NFL players in history, the top quarterbacks, and the greatest linebackers of all time

1
+ - 2,015 546
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Lawrence Taylor Linebacker

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2
+ - 1,505 493
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Reggie White Defensive tackle, Defensive end

3
+ - 1,393 462
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

4
+ - 1,243 482
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Dick Butkus Linebacker, Center

5
+ - 1,138 393
Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ronnie Lott Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back

6
+ - 1,062 461
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Lambert Linebacker

7
+ - 1,403 579
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ray Lewis Linebacker

8
+ - 900 340
Rod Woodson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

9
+ - 882 254
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

10
+ - 808 355
Bruce Smith is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

11
+ - 780 379
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

12
+ - 1,088 394
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Deion Sanders Cornerback, Punt returner, Kickoff returner

13
+ - 755 343
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Ham Linebacker

14
+ - 842 273
Charles Woodson is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Charles Woodson Cornerback, Return specialist, Safety

15
+ - 588 229
Dick Lane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Dick Lane Cornerback

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16
+ - 651 275
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Derrick Thomas Linebacker

17
+ - 655 269
Ed Reed is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ed Reed Free Safety

18
+ - 562 319
Mel Blount is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Mel Blount Cornerback, Defensive back

19
+ - 519 266
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Junior Seau Linebacker

20
+ - 498 279
Randy White is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Randy White Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Linebacker

21
+ - 455 287
Bob Lilly is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Bob Lilly Defensive tackle

22
+ - 474 224
Alan Page is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Alan Page Defensive tackle, Defensive end

23
+ - 487 238
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ray Nitschke Linebacker

24
+ - 425 332
Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

25
+ - 393 250
Darrell Green is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Darrell Green Cornerback

26
+ - 533 289
Michael Strahan is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Michael Strahan Defensive end

27
+ - 546 298
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Brian Urlacher Linebacker

28
+ - 342 232
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Chuck Bednarik Linebacker, Center

29
+ - 561 146
Troy Polamalu is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Troy Polamalu Strong Safety

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30
+ - 303 230
Jack Youngblood is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Youngblood Defensive end

31
+ - 382 184
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Derrick Brooks Linebacker

32
+ - 743 172
J. J. Watt is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
J. J. Watt Defensive end

33
+ - 257 245
Jim Marshall is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jim Marshall Defensive end

34
+ - 339 189
Darrelle Revis is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Darrelle Revis Cornerback

35
+ - 428 274
Warren Sapp is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Warren Sapp Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Tackle

36
+ - 354 190
Steve Atwater is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Steve Atwater Safety, Defensive back

37
+ - 326 127
Howie Long is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

38
+ - 365 146
Champ Bailey is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Champ Bailey Cornerback

39
+ - 351 180
Julius Peppers is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Julius Peppers Defensive end

40
+ - 238 205
Carl Eller is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Carl Eller Defensive end, Defensive lineman

41
+ - 287 197
Dick LeBeau is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

42
+ - 150 57
John Randle is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
John Randle Defensive tackle, Defensive end

43
+ - 192 183
Bobby Bell is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Bobby Bell Defensive end, Linebacker, Defensive lineman

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44
+ - 184 198
Paul Krause is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Paul Krause Safety, Defensive back

45
+ - 230 154
Jared Allen is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jared Allen Defensive end

46
+ - 196 199
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ted Hendricks Linebacker

47
+ - 184 211
Gino Marchetti is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Gino Marchetti Defensive end

48
+ - 230 161
Lester Hayes is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Lester Hayes Cornerback, Safety

49
+ - 188 108
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Charles Haley Defensive end, Linebacker, Defensive lineman

50
+ - 271 125
James Harrison is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
James Harrison Outside Linebacker