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
3,264 947
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

2
2,299 881
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end

3
2,101 787
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle

4
1,674 732
Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back

5
1,812 822
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker, Center

6
2,273 930
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

7
1,532 741
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

8
1,220 572
Bruce Smith is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

9
1,756 597
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Punt returner, Kickoff returner

10
1,295 588
Rod Woodson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive back

11
1,293 458
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

12
1,119 587
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

13
1,296 459
Charles Woodson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Return specialist, Safety

14
913 382
Dick Lane is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback

15
1,018 532
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

16
1,114 426
Ed Reed is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Free Safety

17
946 446
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

18
819 474
Mel Blount is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Defensive back

19
1,297 414
J. J. Watt is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

20
764 432
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

21
1,005 320
Troy Polamalu is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Strong Safety

22
663 447
Randy White is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Linebacker

23
782 431
Michael Strahan is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

24
670 366
Alan Page is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end

25
684 352
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

26
611 403
Bob Lilly is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle

27
567 370
Darrell Green is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback

28
553 455
Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle

29
861 409
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

30
518 209
Howie Long is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
marcooch761 added Defensive end

31
545 277
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

32
463 306
Jack Youngblood is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

33
582 288
Julius Peppers is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Defensive end

34
587 395
Warren Sapp is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Tackle

35
462 327
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker, Center

36
571 230
Champ Bailey is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
KobeMr81 added Cornerback

37
520 269
Steve Atwater is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Safety, Defensive back

38
310 134
John Randle is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end

39
501 304
Darrelle Revis is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Cornerback

40
346 338
Jim Marshall is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

41
384 277
Dick LeBeau is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive back

42
283 168
Ed Jones is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

43
326 249
Jared Allen is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Defensive end

44
311 176
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end, Linebacker, Defensive lineman

45
296 260
Paul Krause is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Safety, Defensive back

46
308 290
Carl Eller is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end, Defensive lineman

47
282 258
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

48
312 237
Lester Hayes is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Al Sobrante added Cornerback, Safety

49
258 162
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
292 92
Von Miller is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
AC_rockets56 added Outside Linebacker, Defensive end