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
3,076 910
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

2
2,195 833
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end

3
2,011 746
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle

4
1,591 692
Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back

5
1,725 780
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker, Center

6
2,161 899
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

7
1,476 706
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

8
1,168 542
Bruce Smith is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

9
1,243 436
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

10
1,656 574
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Punt returner, Kickoff returner

11
1,245 562
Rod Woodson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive back

12
1,070 557
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

13
1,236 437
Charles Woodson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Return specialist, Safety

14
984 510
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

15
867 365
Dick Lane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback

16
1,052 411
Ed Reed is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Free Safety

17
910 421
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

18
790 454
Mel Blount is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Defensive back

19
734 404
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

20
1,213 385
J. J. Watt is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

21
952 293
Troy Polamalu is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Strong Safety

22
637 423
Randy White is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Linebacker

23
747 408
Michael Strahan is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

24
646 347
Alan Page is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end

25
657 337
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

26
546 351
Darrell Green is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback

27
586 386
Bob Lilly is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle

28
535 435
Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle

29
809 393
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

30
491 195
Howie Long is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
marcooch761 added Defensive end

31
521 264
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

32
438 295
Jack Youngblood is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

33
544 273
Julius Peppers is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Defensive end

34
449 311
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker, Center

35
544 215
Champ Bailey is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
KobeMr81 added Cornerback

36
498 254
Steve Atwater is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Safety, Defensive back

37
561 380
Warren Sapp is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Tackle

38
287 122
John Randle is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end

39
475 292
Darrelle Revis is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Cornerback

40
334 327
Jim Marshall is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

41
369 267
Dick LeBeau is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive back

42
264 153
Ed Jones is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

43
316 234
Jared Allen is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Defensive end

44
293 164
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end, Linebacker, Defensive lineman

45
298 225
Lester Hayes is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Al Sobrante added Cornerback, Safety

46
295 279
Carl Eller is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end, Defensive lineman

47
270 251
Paul Krause is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Safety, Defensive back

48
267 248
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

49
247 151
Bubba Smith is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
MarkJStout added Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Defensive lineman

50
394 195
James Harrison is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
marcooch761 added Outside Linebacker