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
+ - 1,914 508
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Lawrence Taylor Linebacker

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2
+ - 1,434 465
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Reggie White Defensive tackle, Defensive end

3
+ - 1,330 433
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

4
+ - 1,195 451
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Dick Butkus Linebacker, Center

5
+ - 1,087 364
Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ronnie Lott Cornerback, Safety Defensive back

6
+ - 1,019 429
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Lambert Linebacker

7
+ - 1,321 541
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ray Lewis Linebacker

8
+ - 859 322
Rod Woodson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

9
+ - 765 341
Bruce Smith is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

10
+ - 836 247
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

11
+ - 749 360
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

12
+ - 1,028 374
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Deion Sanders Cornerback, Punt returner Kickoff returner

13
+ - 725 328
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Ham Linebacker

14
+ - 791 257
Charles Woodson is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Charles Woodson Cornerback, Return specialist Safety

15
+ - 561 219
Dick Lane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Dick Lane Cornerback

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16
+ - 617 266
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Derrick Thomas Linebacker

17
+ - 529 306
Mel Blount is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Mel Blount Cornerback, Defensive back

18
+ - 619 252
Ed Reed is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ed Reed Free Safety

19
+ - 502 249
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Junior Seau Linebacker

20
+ - 476 266
Randy White is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Randy White Defensive tackle, Defensive end Linebacker

21
+ - 455 214
Alan Page is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Alan Page Defensive tackle, Defensive end

22
+ - 413 321
Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

23
+ - 438 278
Bob Lilly is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Bob Lilly Defensive tackle

24
+ - 461 228
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ray Nitschke Linebacker

25
+ - 371 241
Darrell Green is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Darrell Green Cornerback

26
+ - 508 268
Michael Strahan is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Michael Strahan Defensive end

27
+ - 326 223
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Chuck Bednarik Linebacker, Center

28
+ - 526 277
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Brian Urlacher Linebacker

29
+ - 288 222
Jack Youngblood is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Youngblood Defensive end

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30
+ - 249 233
Jim Marshall is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jim Marshall Defensive end

31
+ - 369 176
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Derrick Brooks Linebacker

32
+ - 512 137
Troy Polamalu is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Troy Polamalu Strong Safety

33
+ - 413 255
Warren Sapp is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Warren Sapp Defensive tackle, Defensive end Tackle

34
+ - 693 160
J. J. Watt is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
J. J. Watt Defensive end

35
+ - 320 164
Darrelle Revis is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Darrelle Revis Cornerback

36
+ - 340 179
Steve Atwater is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Steve Atwater Safety, Defensive back

37
+ - 230 199
Carl Eller is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Carl Eller Defensive end, Defensive lineman

38
+ - 308 118
Howie Long is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

39
+ - 336 171
Julius Peppers is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Julius Peppers Defensive end

40
+ - 345 135
Champ Bailey is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Champ Bailey Cornerback

41
+ - 272 186
Dick LeBeau is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

42
+ - 184 174
Bobby Bell is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Bobby Bell Defensive end, Linebacker Defensive lineman

43
+ - 137 51
John Randle is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
John Randle Defensive tackle, Defensive end

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44
+ - 193 189
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ted Hendricks Linebacker

45
+ - 177 205
Gino Marchetti is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Gino Marchetti Defensive end

46
+ - 181 190
Paul Krause is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Paul Krause Safety, Defensive back

47
+ - 226 150
Lester Hayes is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Lester Hayes Cornerback, Safety

48
+ - 220 143
Jared Allen is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jared Allen Defensive end

49
+ - 173 100
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Charles Haley Defensive end, Linebacker Defensive lineman

50
+ - 165 94
Bubba Smith is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Bubba Smith Defensive tackle, Defensive end Defensive lineman