The Greatest Defenders in NFL History Football Players (American)
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The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

List Criteria: Defensive players based on their on-field achievements

This list of the greatest defenders in NFL history is here to decide definitively who the best defender in NFL history is. 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
  • 18 ReRanks
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  1. 1
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    the people's #1 Linebacker

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  2. 2
    + 623
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    Defensive tackle, Defensive end

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  3. 3
    + 581
    - 152
    ) open
  4. 4
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    Linebacker, Center

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  5. 5
    + 483
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    Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back

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  6. 6
    + 481
    - 166

    Linebacker

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  7. 7
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    - 213

    Linebacker

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  8. 8
    + 342
    - 155

    most listed

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  9. 9
    + 375
    - 88
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  10. 10
    + 373
    - 166
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  11. 11
    + 355
    - 148
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  12. 12
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    Linebacker

    ) open
  13. 13
    + 274
    - 149

    Cornerback, Defensive back

    ) open
  14. 14
    + 413
    - 173

    Cornerback, Punt returner, Kickoff returner

    ) open
  15. 15
    + 225
    - 162

    often listed & ranked high on reranks

    ) open
  16. 16
    + 305
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    ranked low on reranks Linebacker

    ) open
  17. 17
    + 243
    - 132

    Defensive tackle

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  18. 18
    + 317
    - 100

    ranked low on reranks Cornerback, Return specialist, Safety

    ) open
  19. 19
    + 247
    - 116

    Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Linebacker

    ) open
  20. 20
    + 260
    - 102

    Linebacker

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  21. 21
    + 218
    - 88

    Cornerback

    ) open
  22. 22
    + 232
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    Defensive tackle, Defensive end

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  23. 23
    + 193
    - 105

    Cornerback

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  24. 24
    + 220
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    Linebacker

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  25. 25
    + 185
    - 109

    Linebacker, Center

    ) open
  26. 26
    + 245
    - 113

    Free Safety

    ) open
  27. 27
    + 157
    - 105

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Defensive end

    ) open
  28. 28
    + 267
    - 133

    Linebacker

    ) open
  29. 29
    + 135
    - 114

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Defensive end

    ) open
  30. 30
    + 247
    - 121

    Defensive end

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  31. 31
    + 217
    - 135

    Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Tackle

    ) open
  32. 32
    + 186
    - 79

    Linebacker

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  33. 33
    + 149
    - 88

    Safety, Defensive back

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  34. 34
    + 134
    - 108

    Defensive end, Defensive lineman

    ) open
  35. 35
    + 107
    - 117

    Defensive end

    ) open
  36. 36
    + 151
    - 96
    ) open
  37. 37
    + 112
    - 109

    Linebacker

    ) open
  38. 38
    + 150
    - 56

    ranked low on reranks & added by KobeMr81 Cornerback

    ) open
  39. 39
    + 92
    - 103

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Defensive end, Linebacker, Defensive lineman

    ) open
  40. 40
    + 138
    - 72

    ranked low on reranks & added by EthanWalker Defensive end

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  41. 41
    + 104
    - 108

    Safety, Defensive back

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  42. 42
    + 125
    - 82

    added by Al Sobrante Cornerback, Safety

    ) open
  43. 43
    + 138
    - 46

    ranked low on reranks & added by marcooch761

    ) open
  44. 44
    + 85
    - 124

    Linebacker

    ) open
  45. 45
    + 96
    - 108

    Cornerback, Return specialist

    ) open
  46. 46
    + 91
    - 103

    Cornerback

    ) open
  47. 47
    + 96
    - 77

    Linebacker

    ) open
  48. 48
    + 82
    - 110

    Defensive end

    ) open
  49. 49
    + 67
    - 114

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Return specialist, Safety, Defensive back

    ) open
  50. 50
    + 92
    - 88

    added by EthanWalker Linebacker, Middle Linebacker

    ) open
122 +

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