Football The Greatest Defenders in NFL History  

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Originally by Ranker Community
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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
list ordered by

1
3,614 1,021
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

2
2,517 976
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end

3
2,315 862
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle

4
1,993 890
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker, Center

5
1,843 822
Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back

6
2,490 1,021
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

7
1,361 629
Bruce Smith is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

8
1,668 808
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

9
1,966 672
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Punt returner, Kickoff returner

10
1,410 658
Rod Woodson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive back

11
1,430 502
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

12
1,244 643
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

13
1,422 520
Charles Woodson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Return specialist, Safety

14
1,270 480
Ed Reed is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Free Safety

15
1,025 425
Dick Lane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback

16
1,098 595
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

17
1,044 509
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

18
908 528
Mel Blount is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Defensive back

19
1,463 474
J. J. Watt is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

20
850 494
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

21
724 497
Randy White is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Linebacker

22
1,127 383
Troy Polamalu is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Strong Safety

23
750 398
Alan Page is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end

24
773 380
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

25
677 433
Bob Lilly is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle