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!
list ordered by

1
4,251 1,430
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
4,189 1,692
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ray Lewis Baltimore Ravens

3
3,372 1,315
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Dick Butkus Chicago Bears

4
2,567 1,007
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
2,190 838
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Mike Singletary Baylor Bears football, Chicago Bears

6
1,688 772
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Jack Ham Penn State Nittany Lions football

7
1,695 657
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
1,562 845
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
1,280 758
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ray Nitschke Green Bay Packers

10
1,956 847
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
1,220 485
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
bojanthebest added Derrick Brooks Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12
1,322 606
Patrick Willis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
noahjacobs1 added Patrick Willis San Francisco 49ers

13
734 521
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Chuck Bednarik University of Pennsylvania football

14
700 450
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
674 535
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
663 613
Willie Lanier is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

17
831 465
DeMarcus Ware is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
wiabux added DeMarcus Ware Troy Trojans football, Dallas Cowboys

18
675 418
Zach Thomas is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
ChangesDownClub added Zach Thomas Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys

19
587 388
Terrell Suggs is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
megatron81calvin added Terrell Suggs Arizona State Sun Devils football, Baltimore Ravens

20
274 66
James Harrison is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1449352741656 added James Harrison Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals

21
496 427
Harry Carson is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

22
788 464
Von Miller is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Von Miller Texas A&M Aggies football, Denver Broncos

23
506 441
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
541 372
London Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
EthanWalker added London Fletcher Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams

25
498 498
Bobby Bell is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

26
258 131
Clay Matthews III is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Clay Matthews III Green Bay Packers

27
366 428
Andre Tippett is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

28
165 83
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

29
507 427
Tedy Bruschi is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Tedy Bruschi Arizona Wildcats football, New England Patriots

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30
223 39
Luke Kuechly is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
nat_merrill added Luke Kuechly Carolina Panthers, Boston College Eagles football

31
391 300
Willie McGinest is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
wiabux added Willie McGinest USC Trojans football, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns

32
198 141
Joey Porter is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Joey Porter Pittsburgh Steelers, Colorado State Rams football, Arizona Cardinals

33
393 278
Chris Spielman is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
ChangesDownClub added Chris Spielman Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions

34
265 190
Cornelius Bennett is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Biscuit420 added Cornelius Bennett

35
249 200
Sam Mills is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
ShaneAdkins added Sam Mills New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars, Carolina Panthers

36
133 80
NaVorro Bowman is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1442432702366 added NaVorro Bowman San Francisco 49ers

37
151 100
Greg Lloyd, Sr. is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Greg Lloyd, Sr. Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers

38
106 62
Jason Taylor is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Jason Taylor Washington Redskins, Akron Zips football, New York Jets

39
241 178
Carl Banks is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
quantum.svcs added Carl Banks Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants

40
158 117
Lance Briggs is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Lance Briggs Arizona Wildcats football, Chicago Bears

41
266 295
Rickey Jackson is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

42
406 323
Bill Romanowski is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
TehSauce added Bill Romanowski Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers

43
253 246
Lee Roy Jordan is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

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44
285 349
Nick Buoniconti is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

45
119 111
Pat Swilling is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Pat Swilling New Orleans Saints

46
162 115
Levon Kirkland is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Levon Kirkland

47
235 315
Chuck Howley is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

48
120 123
Ken Norton, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Ken Norton, Jr.

49
314 418
Randy Gradishar is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Randy Gradishar Denver Broncos

50
136 94
James Farrior is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added James Farrior Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets