The Greatest Defenders in NFL History Football Players (American)

The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

50k votes 4.4k voters 92k views 177 items tags f p @

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 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
List Photo: user uploaded image
  • 28 ReRanks
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  • 2 See list ranked by
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  1. 1
    + 1,678
    - 442

    the people's #1
    Linebacker

    ;
  2. 2
    + 1,190
    - 358

    most listed

    ;
  3. 3
    + 1,265
    - 407
    Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History


    Reggie White Defensive tackle, Defensive end

  4. 4
    + 979
    - 306
    Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History


    Ronnie Lott Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back

  5. 5
    + 1,062
    - 389


    Linebacker, Center

    ;
  6. 6
    + 916
    - 369
    Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History


    Jack Lambert Linebacker

  7. 7
    + 1,155
    - 470
    Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History


    Ray Lewis Linebacker

  8. 8
    + 770
    - 277
    Rod Woodson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History


    Rod Woodson

  9. 9
    + 735
    - 217


    ;
  10. 10
    + 674
    - 301
    Bruce Smith is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History


    Bruce Smith

  11. 11
    + 672
    - 317
    Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History


    Mike Singletary

  12. 12
    + 887
    - 326
    Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History


    Deion Sanders Cornerback, Punt returner, Kickoff returner

  13. 13
    + 661
    - 290
    Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History


    Jack Ham Linebacker

  14. 14
    + 498
    - 182


    Cornerback

    ;
  15. 15
    + 698
    - 217


    Cornerback, Return specialist, Safety

    ;
  16. 16
    + 551
    - 221


    Linebacker

    ;
  17. 17
    + 474
    - 275


    Cornerback, Defensive back

    ;
  18. 18
    + 436
    - 230


    Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Linebacker

    ;
  19. 19
    + 375
    - 279
    Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Merlin Olsen

  20. 20
    + 399
    - 248
    Bob Lilly is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History


    Bob Lilly Defensive tackle

  21. 21
    + 536
    - 215
    Ed Reed is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

    ranked low on reranks
    Ed Reed Free Safety

  22. 22
    + 440
    - 220


    Linebacker

    ;
  23. 23
    + 416
    - 205
    Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History


    Ray Nitschke Linebacker

  24. 24
    + 400
    - 192


    Defensive tackle, Defensive end

    ;
  25. 25
    + 339
    - 211


    Cornerback

    ;
  26. 26
    + 451
    - 229


    Defensive end

    ;
  27. 27
    + 299
    - 198


    Linebacker, Center

    ;
  28. 28
    + 468
    - 242
    Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History


    Brian Urlacher Linebacker

  29. 29
    + 259
    - 193

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Defensive end

    ;
  30. 30
    + 335
    - 150
    Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

    ranked low on reranks
    Derrick Brooks Linebacker

  31. 31
    + 222
    - 206
    Jim Marshall is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Jim Marshall Defensive end

  32. 32
    + 429
    - 111

    ranked low on reranks
    Strong Safety

    ;
  33. 33
    + 380
    - 226


    Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Tackle

    ;
  34. 34
    + 582
    - 142

    ranked low on reranks
    Defensive end

    ;
  35. 35
    + 302
    - 161
    Steve Atwater is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History


    Steve Atwater Safety, Defensive back

  36. 36
    + 284
    - 133

    added by EthanWalker
    Cornerback

    ;
  37. 37
    + 295
    - 145
    Julius Peppers is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

    added by EthanWalker
    Julius Peppers Defensive end

  38. 38
    + 204
    - 182

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

    ;
  39. 39
    + 249
    - 170


    ;
  40. 40
    + 162
    - 158

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

    ;
  41. 41
    + 267
    - 99
    Howie Long is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

    ranked low on reranks & added by marcooch761
    Howie Long

  42. 42
    + 292
    - 122

    ranked low on reranks & added by KobeMr81
    Cornerback

    ;
  43. 43
    + 176
    - 172

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Linebacker

    ;
  44. 44
    + 161
    - 189

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Defensive end

    ;
  45. 45
    + 200
    - 137

    added by Al Sobrante
    Cornerback, Safety

    ;
  46. 46
    + 105
    - 37
    John Randle is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History


    John Randle Defensive tackle, Defensive end

  47. 47
    + 197
    - 118

    ranked low on reranks & added by EthanWalker
    Defensive end

    ;
  48. 48
    + 155
    - 172
    Paul Krause is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Paul Krause Safety, Defensive back

  49. 49
    + 162
    - 123


    Linebacker

    ;
  50. 50
    + 133
    - 162

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Defensive end

    ;
178 +

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