athletes The Greatest Linebackers of All Time  

Originally by
73k votes 11k voters 391k views 143 items Follow Embed

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!
list ordered by

1
+ - 4,168 1,396
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

The Dirtiest NFL Players of All Time The Best Wii RPGs of All Time

2
+ - 4,121 1,636
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ray Lewis Baltimore Ravens

3
+ - 3,298 1,298
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Dick Butkus Chicago Bears

4
+ - 2,522 984
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
+ - 2,142 820
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Mike Singletary Baylor Bears football, Chicago Bears

6
+ - 1,654 750
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Jack Ham Penn State Nittany Lions football

7
+ - 1,651 639
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
+ - 1,526 814
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
+ - 1,243 743
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ray Nitschke Green Bay Packers

10
+ - 1,913 825
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
+ - 1,189 475
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Derrick Brooks Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12
+ - 1,297 594
Patrick Willis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Patrick Willis San Francisco 49ers

13
+ - 717 509
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Chuck Bednarik University of Pennsylvania football

14
+ - 672 441
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
+ - 660 521
Sam Huff is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Sam Huff Washington Redskins, New York Giants

The Best Football Players Ever The Weirdest Sports from Around the World

16
+ - 649 603
Willie Lanier is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

17
+ - 667 402
Zach Thomas is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Zach Thomas Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys

18
+ - 804 455
DeMarcus Ware is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
DeMarcus Ware Troy Trojans football, Dallas Cowboys

19
+ - 570 371
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
+ - 753 452
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
+ - 480 419
Harry Carson is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

22
+ - 243 58
James Harrison is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
James Harrison Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals

23
+ - 491 436
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ted Hendricks Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Colts, Green Bay Packers

24
+ - 533 363
London Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
London Fletcher Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams

25
+ - 487 488
Bobby Bell is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

26
+ - 354 416
Andre Tippett is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

27
+ - 236 114
Clay Matthews III is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Clay Matthews III Green Bay Packers

28
+ - 146 77
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

29
+ - 491 417
Tedy Bruschi is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Tedy Bruschi Arizona Wildcats football, New England Patriots

The Best Wide Receivers of All Time 20 Heartwarming Random Acts of Kindness Caught on Camera

30
+ - 375 292
Willie McGinest is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Willie McGinest USC Trojans football, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns

31
+ - 182 133
Joey Porter is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Joey Porter Pittsburgh Steelers, Colorado State Rams football, Arizona Cardinals

32
+ - 236 193
Sam Mills is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Sam Mills New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars, Carolina Panthers

33
+ - 255 181
Cornelius Bennett is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

34
+ - 186 32
Luke Kuechly is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Luke Kuechly Carolina Panthers, Boston College Eagles football

35
+ - 135 93
Greg Lloyd, Sr. is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Greg Lloyd, Sr. Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers

36
+ - 381 268
Chris Spielman is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Chris Spielman Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions

37
+ - 258 290
Rickey Jackson is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

38
+ - 230 173
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
+ - 89 60
Jason Taylor is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Jason Taylor Washington Redskins, Akron Zips football, New York Jets

40
+ - 121 75
NaVorro Bowman is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
NaVorro Bowman San Francisco 49ers

41
+ - 306 414
Randy Gradishar is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Randy Gradishar Denver Broncos

42
+ - 231 310
Chuck Howley is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

43
+ - 148 113
Lance Briggs is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Lance Briggs Arizona Wildcats football, Chicago Bears

The Best Quarterbacks of All Time The Best Inexpensive Cars You'd Love to Own

44
+ - 281 342
Nick Buoniconti is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

45
+ - 113 119
Ken Norton, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

46
+ - 152 111
Levon Kirkland is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

47
+ - 393 317
Bill Romanowski is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Bill Romanowski Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers

48
+ - 249 240
Lee Roy Jordan is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

49
+ - 218 361
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
+ - 109 107
Pat Swilling is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Pat Swilling New Orleans Saints