football The Greatest Defenders in NFL History  

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Originally by Ranker Community
82.4k votes 7.4k voters 118.1k views 507 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

1
2,745 829
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Lawrence Taylor Linebacker

2
1,999 741
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Reggie White Defensive tackle, Defensive end

3
1,865 664
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

4
1,475 613
Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ronnie Lott Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back

5
1,597 697
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Dick Butkus Linebacker, Center

6
1,953 816
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ray Lewis Linebacker

7
1,374 645
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Lambert Linebacker

8
1,060 493
Bruce Smith is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

9
1,156 386
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

10
1,155 515
Rod Woodson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

11
1,505 521
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Deion Sanders Cornerback, Punt returner, Kickoff returner

12
984 519
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

13
1,137 397
Charles Woodson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Charles Woodson Cornerback, Return specialist, Safety

14
924 463
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Ham Linebacker

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15
797 326
Dick Lane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Dick Lane Cornerback

16
942 371
Ed Reed is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ed Reed Free Safety

17
839 376
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Derrick Thomas Linebacker

18
732 415
Mel Blount is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Mel Blount Cornerback, Defensive back

19
1,080 310
J. J. Watt is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
J. J. Watt Defensive end

20
665 373
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Junior Seau Linebacker

21
852 255
Troy Polamalu is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Troy Polamalu Strong Safety

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22
598 382
Randy White is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Randy White Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Linebacker

23
614 309
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ray Nitschke Linebacker

24
593 319
Alan Page is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Alan Page Defensive tackle, Defensive end

25
683 381
Michael Strahan is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Michael Strahan Defensive end

26
505 327
Darrell Green is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Darrell Green Cornerback

27
543 363
Bob Lilly is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Bob Lilly Defensive tackle

28
502 405
Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

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29
723 374
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Brian Urlacher Linebacker

30
441 179
Howie Long is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
marcooch761 added Howie Long

31
481 245
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Derrick Brooks Linebacker

32
404 274
Jack Youngblood is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Youngblood Defensive end

33
493 254
Julius Peppers is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Julius Peppers Defensive end

34
423 289
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Chuck Bednarik Linebacker, Center

35
512 357
Warren Sapp is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Warren Sapp Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Tackle

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36
486 199
Champ Bailey is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
KobeMr81 added Champ Bailey Cornerback

37
454 240
Steve Atwater is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Steve Atwater Safety, Defensive back

38
439 266
Darrelle Revis is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Darrelle Revis Cornerback

39
305 303
Jim Marshall is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jim Marshall Defensive end

40
238 102
John Randle is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
John Randle Defensive tackle, Defensive end

41
347 247
Dick LeBeau is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

42
294 209
Jared Allen is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Jared Allen Defensive end

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43
230 136
Ed Jones is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

44
277 258
Carl Eller is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Carl Eller Defensive end, Defensive lineman

45
250 233
Paul Krause is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Paul Krause Safety, Defensive back

46
248 151
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Charles Haley Defensive end, Linebacker, Defensive lineman

47
272 209
Lester Hayes is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Al Sobrante added Lester Hayes Cornerback, Safety

48
245 233
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ted Hendricks Linebacker

49
221 138
Bubba Smith is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
MarkJStout added Bubba Smith Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Defensive lineman

50
356 182
James Harrison is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
marcooch761 added James Harrison Outside Linebacker