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
+ - 1,915 510
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Lawrence Taylor Linebacker

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2
+ - 1,436 466
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Reggie White Defensive tackle, Defensive end

3
+ - 1,332 433
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

4
+ - 1,196 452
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Dick Butkus Linebacker, Center

5
+ - 1,089 364
Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ronnie Lott Cornerback, Safety Defensive back

6
+ - 1,021 429
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Lambert Linebacker

7
+ - 1,321 544
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ray Lewis Linebacker

8
+ - 860 323
Rod Woodson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

9
+ - 767 342
Bruce Smith is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

10
+ - 838 247
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

11
+ - 751 360
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

12
+ - 1,029 375
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Deion Sanders Cornerback, Punt returner Kickoff returner

13
+ - 727 328
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Ham Linebacker

14
+ - 791 259
Charles Woodson is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Charles Woodson Cornerback, Return specialist Safety

15
+ - 563 219
Dick Lane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Dick Lane Cornerback

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16
+ - 618 267
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Derrick Thomas Linebacker

17
+ - 531 306
Mel Blount is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Mel Blount Cornerback, Defensive back

18
+ - 620 253
Ed Reed is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ed Reed Free Safety

19
+ - 503 250
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Junior Seau Linebacker

20
+ - 477 267
Randy White is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Randy White Defensive tackle, Defensive end Linebacker

21
+ - 456 215
Alan Page is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Alan Page Defensive tackle, Defensive end

22
+ - 413 323
Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

23
+ - 439 279
Bob Lilly is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Bob Lilly Defensive tackle

24
+ - 462 229
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ray Nitschke Linebacker

25
+ - 373 241
Darrell Green is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Darrell Green Cornerback

26
+ - 509 269
Michael Strahan is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Michael Strahan Defensive end

27
+ - 327 224
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Chuck Bednarik Linebacker, Center

28
+ - 526 279
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Brian Urlacher Linebacker

29
+ - 288 224
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
+ - 251 233
Jim Marshall is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jim Marshall Defensive end

31
+ - 369 177
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Derrick Brooks Linebacker

32
+ - 514 137
Troy Polamalu is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Troy Polamalu Strong Safety

33
+ - 413 257
Warren Sapp is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Warren Sapp Defensive tackle, Defensive end Tackle

34
+ - 693 162
J. J. Watt is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
J. J. Watt Defensive end

35
+ - 321 165
Darrelle Revis is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Darrelle Revis Cornerback

36
+ - 340 181
Steve Atwater is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Steve Atwater Safety, Defensive back

37
+ - 231 200
Carl Eller is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Carl Eller Defensive end, Defensive lineman

38
+ - 309 119
Howie Long is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

39
+ - 337 172
Julius Peppers is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Julius Peppers Defensive end

40
+ - 346 135
Champ Bailey is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Champ Bailey Cornerback

41
+ - 274 186
Dick LeBeau is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

42
+ - 184 175
Bobby Bell is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Bobby Bell Defensive end, Linebacker Defensive lineman

43
+ - 139 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
+ - 193 190
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ted Hendricks Linebacker

45
+ - 177 206
Gino Marchetti is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Gino Marchetti Defensive end

46
+ - 181 191
Paul Krause is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Paul Krause Safety, Defensive back

47
+ - 226 151
Lester Hayes is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Lester Hayes Cornerback, Safety

48
+ - 220 144
Jared Allen is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jared Allen Defensive end

49
+ - 174 100
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Charles Haley Defensive end, Linebacker Defensive lineman

50
+ - 166 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