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
3,278 948
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

2
2,306 886
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end

3
2,107 790
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle

4
1,679 736
Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back

5
1,816 825
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker, Center

6
2,280 933
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

7
1,535 743
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

8
1,225 573
Bruce Smith is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

9
1,763 599
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Punt returner, Kickoff returner

10
1,299 590
Rod Woodson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive back

11
1,296 460
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

12
1,121 589
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

13
1,297 461
Charles Woodson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Return specialist, Safety

14
914 384
Dick Lane is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback

15
1,018 534
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

16
1,119 427
Ed Reed is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Free Safety

17
948 448
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

18
819 477
Mel Blount is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Defensive back

19
1,303 417
J. J. Watt is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

20
764 434
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

21
1,009 322
Troy Polamalu is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Strong Safety

22
664 449
Randy White is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Linebacker

23
785 432
Michael Strahan is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

24
672 366
Alan Page is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end

25
686 354
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

26
612 405
Bob Lilly is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle

27
569 372
Darrell Green is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback

28
863 409
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

29
554 456
Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle

30
520 209
Howie Long is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
marcooch761 added Defensive end

31
546 277
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

32
464 307
Jack Youngblood is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

33
585 288
Julius Peppers is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Defensive end

34
588 396
Warren Sapp is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Tackle

35
573 230
Champ Bailey is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
KobeMr81 added Cornerback

36
462 328
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker, Center

37
521 269
Steve Atwater is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Safety, Defensive back

38
312 134
John Randle is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end

39
504 305
Darrelle Revis is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Cornerback

40
347 339
Jim Marshall is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

41
384 278
Dick LeBeau is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive back

42
283 169
Ed Jones is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

43
327 249
Jared Allen is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Defensive end

44
312 176
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end, Linebacker, Defensive lineman

45
297 260
Paul Krause is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Safety, Defensive back

46
284 258
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

47
309 290
Carl Eller is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end, Defensive lineman

48
312 238
Lester Hayes is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Al Sobrante added Cornerback, Safety

49
296 92
Von Miller is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
AC_rockets56 added Outside Linebacker, Defensive end

50
414 209
James Harrison is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
marcooch761 added Outside Linebacker