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
3,414 973
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

2
2,379 913
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end

3
2,177 815
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle

4
1,742 767
Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back

5
1,879 846
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker, Center

6
2,352 968
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

7
1,283 588
Bruce Smith is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

8
1,582 770
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

9
1,346 610
Rod Woodson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive back

10
1,841 631
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Punt returner, Kickoff returner

11
1,345 477
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

12
1,173 609
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

13
1,346 480
Charles Woodson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Return specialist, Safety

14
1,177 448
Ed Reed is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Free Safety

15
958 399
Dick Lane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback

16
1,047 560
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

17
995 465
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

18
855 495
Mel Blount is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Defensive back

19
800 450
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

20
1,057 343
Troy Polamalu is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Strong Safety

21
1,372 439
J. J. Watt is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

22
831 448
Michael Strahan is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

23
696 465
Randy White is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Linebacker

24
597 386
Darrell Green is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback

25
707 378
Alan Page is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end

26
718 364
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

27
645 413
Bob Lilly is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle

28
901 420
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

29
578 468
Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle

30
554 216
Howie Long is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
marcooch761 added Defensive end

31
569 288
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

32
607 244
Champ Bailey is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
KobeMr81 added Cornerback

33
485 317
Jack Youngblood is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

34
613 300
Julius Peppers is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Defensive end

35
618 406
Warren Sapp is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Tackle

36
550 279
Steve Atwater is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Safety, Defensive back

37
338 141
John Randle is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end

38
479 340
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker, Center

39
366 347
Jim Marshall is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

40
521 320
Darrelle Revis is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Cornerback

41
337 97
Von Miller is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
AC_rockets56 added Outside Linebacker, Defensive end

42
405 288
Dick LeBeau is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive back

43
348 263
Jared Allen is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Defensive end

44
304 177
Ed Jones is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

45
435 217
James Harrison is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
marcooch761 added Outside Linebacker

46
334 184
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end, Linebacker, Defensive lineman

47
319 267
Paul Krause is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Safety, Defensive back

48
407 209
DeMarcus Ware is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Defensive end, Linebacker

49
318 100
Brian Dawkins is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Safety

50
327 300
Carl Eller is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end, Defensive lineman