NFL The Greatest Defenders in NFL History  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
111.6k votes 9.6k voters 133.5k views 505 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
3,699 1,038
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
2
2,562 1,001
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end
3
2,351 883
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle
4
2,037 905
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker, Center
5
1,876 839
Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back
6
2,539 1,045
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
7
1,397 638
Bruce Smith is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end
8
1,693 816
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
9
2,000 688
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Punt returner, Kickoff returner
10
1,429 667
Rod Woodson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive back
11
1,455 507
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end
12
1,267 651
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
13
1,453 529
Charles Woodson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Return specialist, Safety
14
1,308 487
Ed Reed is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Free Safety
15
1,048 432
Dick Lane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback
16
1,115 606
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
17
1,066 515
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
18
931 533
Mel Blount is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Defensive back
19
1,495 480
J. J. Watt is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end
20
863 504
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
21
1,156 389
Troy Polamalu is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Strong Safety
22
733 507
Randy White is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Linebacker
23
769 407
Alan Page is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end
24
790 384
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
25
687 440
Bob Lilly is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle