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

1
2,965 882
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Lawrence Taylor Linebacker

2
2,140 795
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Reggie White Defensive tackle, Defensive end

3
1,973 709
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Joe Greene Defensive tackle

4
1,553 666
Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ronnie Lott Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back

5
1,689 751
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Dick Butkus Linebacker, Center

6
2,099 877
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ray Lewis Linebacker

7
1,454 681
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Lambert Linebacker

8
1,142 522
Bruce Smith is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Bruce Smith Defensive end

9
1,224 417
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Deacon Jones Defensive end

10
1,615 556
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Deion Sanders Cornerback, Punt returner, Kickoff returner

11
1,217 548
Rod Woodson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Rod Woodson Defensive back

12
1,045 545
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Mike Singletary Linebacker

13
1,209 425
Charles Woodson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Charles Woodson Cornerback, Return specialist, Safety

14
974 490
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Ham Linebacker

15
853 346
Dick Lane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Dick Lane Cornerback

16
1,019 400
Ed Reed is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ed Reed Free Safety

17
891 408
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Derrick Thomas Linebacker

18
775 441
Mel Blount is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Mel Blount Cornerback, Defensive back

19
1,166 364
J. J. Watt is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
J. J. Watt Defensive end

20
711 397
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Junior Seau Linebacker

21
924 279
Troy Polamalu is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Troy Polamalu Strong Safety

22
629 408
Randy White is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Randy White Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Linebacker

23
636 331
Alan Page is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Alan Page Defensive tackle, Defensive end

24
727 398
Michael Strahan is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Michael Strahan Defensive end

25
646 328
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ray Nitschke Linebacker

26
534 339
Darrell Green is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Darrell Green Cornerback

27
574 376
Bob Lilly is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Bob Lilly Defensive tackle

28
526 425
Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Merlin Olsen Defensive tackle

29
781 388
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Brian Urlacher Linebacker

30
477 191
Howie Long is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
marcooch761 added Howie Long Defensive end

31
511 255
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Derrick Brooks Linebacker

32
430 286
Jack Youngblood is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Youngblood Defensive end

33
526 266
Julius Peppers is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Julius Peppers Defensive end

34
441 303
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Chuck Bednarik Linebacker, Center

35
523 210
Champ Bailey is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
KobeMr81 added Champ Bailey Cornerback

36
485 249
Steve Atwater is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Steve Atwater Safety, Defensive back

37
546 375
Warren Sapp is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Warren Sapp Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Tackle

38
278 113
John Randle is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
John Randle Defensive tackle, Defensive end

39
466 283
Darrelle Revis is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Darrelle Revis Cornerback

40
328 318
Jim Marshall is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jim Marshall Defensive end

41
363 259
Dick LeBeau is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Dick LeBeau Defensive back

42
312 224
Jared Allen is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Jared Allen Defensive end

43
256 147
Ed Jones is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ed Jones Defensive end

44
279 160
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Charles Haley Defensive end, Linebacker, Defensive lineman

45
294 272
Carl Eller is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Carl Eller Defensive end, Defensive lineman

46
293 219
Lester Hayes is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Al Sobrante added Lester Hayes Cornerback, Safety

47
265 246
Paul Krause is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Paul Krause Safety, Defensive back

48
242 147
Bubba Smith is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
MarkJStout added Bubba Smith Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Defensive lineman

49
260 244
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ted Hendricks Linebacker

50
378 191
James Harrison is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
marcooch761 added James Harrison Outside Linebacker