NFL The Greatest Defenders in NFL History  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
116.7k votes 10k voters 135.7k views 513 items

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
3,834 1,071
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
2
2,647 1,045
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end
3
2,428 918
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle
4
1,941 883
Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back
5
2,107 943
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker, Center
6
2,627 1,090
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
7
1,455 666
Bruce Smith is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end
8
1,742 847
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
9
2,082 724
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Punt returner, Kickoff returner
10
1,476 701
Rod Woodson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive back
11
1,511 528
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end
12
1,320 680
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
13
1,503 562
Charles Woodson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Return specialist, Safety
14
1,372 512
Ed Reed is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Free Safety
15
1,086 451
Dick Lane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback
16
1,150 633
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
17
1,105 536
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
18
962 558
Mel Blount is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Defensive back
19
1,550 513
J. J. Watt is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end
20
891 528
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
21
765 526
Randy White is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Linebacker
22
1,208 411
Troy Polamalu is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Strong Safety
23
802 423
Alan Page is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end
24
828 395
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
25
717 450
Bob Lilly is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle