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
+ - 1,947 521
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Lawrence Taylor Linebacker

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2
+ - 1,457 475
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Reggie White Defensive tackle, Defensive end

3
+ - 1,354 441
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

4
+ - 1,107 368
Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ronnie Lott Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back

5
+ - 1,205 461
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Dick Butkus Linebacker, Center

6
+ - 1,034 437
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Lambert Linebacker

7
+ - 1,346 556
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ray Lewis Linebacker

8
+ - 872 329
Rod Woodson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

9
+ - 848 251
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

10
+ - 777 344
Bruce Smith is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

11
+ - 761 367
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

12
+ - 1,045 381
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Deion Sanders Cornerback, Punt returner, Kickoff returner

13
+ - 739 331
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Ham Linebacker

14
+ - 810 263
Charles Woodson is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Charles Woodson Cornerback, Return specialist, Safety

15
+ - 568 222
Dick Lane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Dick Lane Cornerback

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16
+ - 625 268
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Derrick Thomas Linebacker

17
+ - 545 309
Mel Blount is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Mel Blount Cornerback, Defensive back

18
+ - 633 258
Ed Reed is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ed Reed Free Safety

19
+ - 486 270
Randy White is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Randy White Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Linebacker

20
+ - 508 255
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Junior Seau Linebacker

21
+ - 460 217
Alan Page is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Alan Page Defensive tackle, Defensive end

22
+ - 415 325
Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

23
+ - 441 281
Bob Lilly is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Bob Lilly Defensive tackle

24
+ - 468 231
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ray Nitschke Linebacker

25
+ - 378 243
Darrell Green is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Darrell Green Cornerback

26
+ - 521 275
Michael Strahan is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Michael Strahan Defensive end

27
+ - 329 227
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Chuck Bednarik Linebacker, Center

28
+ - 531 284
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Brian Urlacher Linebacker

29
+ - 291 226
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
+ - 254 236
Jim Marshall is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jim Marshall Defensive end

31
+ - 372 179
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Derrick Brooks Linebacker

32
+ - 528 142
Troy Polamalu is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Troy Polamalu Strong Safety

33
+ - 417 262
Warren Sapp is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Warren Sapp Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Tackle

34
+ - 709 164
J. J. Watt is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
J. J. Watt Defensive end

35
+ - 327 172
Darrelle Revis is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Darrelle Revis Cornerback

36
+ - 346 184
Steve Atwater is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Steve Atwater Safety, Defensive back

37
+ - 234 201
Carl Eller is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Carl Eller Defensive end, Defensive lineman

38
+ - 313 122
Howie Long is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

39
+ - 342 173
Julius Peppers is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Julius Peppers Defensive end

40
+ - 353 139
Champ Bailey is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Champ Bailey Cornerback

41
+ - 278 191
Dick LeBeau is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

42
+ - 187 178
Bobby Bell is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Bobby Bell Defensive end, Linebacker, Defensive lineman

43
+ - 142 54
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
+ - 194 194
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ted Hendricks Linebacker

45
+ - 182 193
Paul Krause is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Paul Krause Safety, Defensive back

46
+ - 178 209
Gino Marchetti is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Gino Marchetti Defensive end

47
+ - 227 154
Lester Hayes is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Lester Hayes Cornerback, Safety

48
+ - 225 146
Jared Allen is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jared Allen Defensive end

49
+ - 178 103
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Charles Haley Defensive end, Linebacker, Defensive lineman

50
+ - 167 97
Bubba Smith is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Bubba Smith Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Defensive lineman