Sports

The Greatest Defenders in NFL History  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
123.6k votes 10.4k voters 139k views 510 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
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
2
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end
3
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker, Center
4
Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back
5
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle
6
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
7
Bruce Smith is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end
8
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
9
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Punt returner, Kickoff returner
10
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end
11
Rod Woodson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive back
12
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
13
Charles Woodson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Return specialist, Safety
14
Ed Reed is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Free Safety
15
Dick Lane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback
16
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
17
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
18
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
19
Mel Blount is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Defensive back
20
J. J. Watt is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end
21
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker
22
Troy Polamalu is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Strong Safety
23
Howie Long is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
marcooch761 added Defensive end
24
Michael Strahan is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end
25
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker