athletes The Greatest Linebackers of All Time  

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List Rules Only include linebackers based on their on-field accomplishments

The greatest linebackers of all time are not only the best NFL players to ever play the linebacker position but also some of the most respected and most feared football players of all time. These all-time greats have electrified crowds with their energy and leadership and delivered on the field as some of the NFL's best defensive players ever.

It's hard to claim that anyone other than the great Lawrence Taylor is the best linebacker ever. He made an immeasurable impact on the game, changing it for decades to follow and becoming the star of the league which at that time was dominated by quarterbacks. His explosiveness and raw power was in most cases simply unstoppable and easily qualifies him as one of the top 10 NFL linebackers of all time.

That said, there are plenty of other great linebackers who each had stellar careers of their own. The likes of Dick Butkus, who terrorized offenses during his nine years with the Chicago Bears, Ray Lewis, who served as a perfect combination of talent and heart during his memorable time with the Baltimore Ravens, and Junior Seau, who recorded over 100 tackles for six seasons straight and earned 12 Pro Bowl selections, are all firmly among the best NFL linebackers of all time.

While they don't always get the same level of attention that other positions do, famous linebackers are some of the toughest, smartest, and most hard working players on any NFL team. Have an NFL linebacker that you adore? Vote for your favorite NFL linebackers below, re-rank this list your way, or add any not listed. Then, head over and vote for the greatest tight ends of all time and the greatest NFL punters of all time too!

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+ - 4,079 1,358
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Lawrence Taylor North Carolina Tar Heels football, New York Giants

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2
+ - 4,028 1,587
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ray Lewis Baltimore Ravens

3
+ - 3,222 1,270
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Dick Butkus Chicago Bears

4
+ - 2,460 958
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Jack Lambert Pittsburgh Steelers, Kent State Golden Flashes football

5
+ - 2,089 792
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Mike Singletary Baylor Bears football, Chicago Bears

6
+ - 1,610 725
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Jack Ham Penn State Nittany Lions football

7
+ - 1,592 618
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Derrick Thomas Alabama Crimson Tide Football, Kansas City Chiefs

8
+ - 1,496 785
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Junior Seau USC Trojans football, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins

9
+ - 1,200 723
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ray Nitschke Green Bay Packers

10
+ - 1,865 794
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Brian Urlacher New Mexico Lobos Football, Chicago Bears

11
+ - 1,164 462
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Derrick Brooks Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12
+ - 1,265 577
Patrick Willis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Patrick Willis San Francisco 49ers

13
+ - 697 493
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Chuck Bednarik University of Pennsylvania football

14
+ - 649 426
Kevin Greene is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Kevin Greene Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Auburn Tigers football

15
+ - 647 509
Sam Huff is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Sam Huff Washington Redskins, New York Giants

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16
+ - 630 589
Willie Lanier is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

17
+ - 776 437
DeMarcus Ware is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
DeMarcus Ware Troy Trojans football, Dallas Cowboys

18
+ - 649 386
Zach Thomas is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Zach Thomas Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys

19
+ - 552 346
Terrell Suggs is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Terrell Suggs Arizona State Sun Devils football, Baltimore Ravens

20
+ - 708 436
Von Miller is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Von Miller Texas A&M Aggies football, Denver Broncos

21
+ - 469 405
Harry Carson is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

22
+ - 476 426
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ted Hendricks Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Colts, Green Bay Packers

23
+ - 518 350
London Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
London Fletcher Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams

24
+ - 469 481
Bobby Bell is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

25
+ - 205 44
James Harrison is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
James Harrison Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals

26
+ - 346 406
Andre Tippett is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

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+ - 221 91
Clay Matthews III is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Clay Matthews III Green Bay Packers

28
+ - 478 403
Tedy Bruschi is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Tedy Bruschi Arizona Wildcats football, New England Patriots

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+ - 122 70
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

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+ - 169 121
Joey Porter is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Joey Porter Pittsburgh Steelers, Colorado State Rams football, Arizona Cardinals

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+ - 228 185
Sam Mills is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Sam Mills New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars, Carolina Panthers

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+ - 364 280
Willie McGinest is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Willie McGinest USC Trojans football, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns

33
+ - 252 171
Cornelius Bennett is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

34
+ - 127 83
Greg Lloyd, Sr. is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Greg Lloyd, Sr. Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers

35
+ - 374 261
Chris Spielman is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Chris Spielman Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions

36
+ - 253 282
Rickey Jackson is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

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+ - 156 23
Luke Kuechly is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Luke Kuechly Carolina Panthers, Boston College Eagles football

38
+ - 223 165
Carl Banks is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Carl Banks Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants

39
+ - 107 69
NaVorro Bowman is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
NaVorro Bowman San Francisco 49ers

40
+ - 299 407
Randy Gradishar is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Randy Gradishar Denver Broncos

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+ - 80 53
Jason Taylor is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Jason Taylor Washington Redskins, Akron Zips football, New York Jets

42
+ - 226 306
Chuck Howley is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

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+ - 276 335
Nick Buoniconti is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

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+ - 109 110
Ken Norton, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

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+ - 386 306
Bill Romanowski is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Bill Romanowski Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers

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+ - 245 234
Lee Roy Jordan is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

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+ - 142 102
Levon Kirkland is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

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+ - 137 108
Lance Briggs is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Lance Briggs Arizona Wildcats football, Chicago Bears

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+ - 212 355
Joe Schmidt is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Joe Schmidt Notre Dame Fighting Irish football, Detroit Lions

50
+ - 105 100
Pat Swilling is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Pat Swilling New Orleans Saints