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
2,636 791
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Lawrence Taylor Linebacker

2
1,933 700
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Reggie White Defensive tackle, Defensive end

3
1,792 635
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

4
1,427 577
Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ronnie Lott Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back

5
1,540 662
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Dick Butkus Linebacker, Center

6
1,882 779
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ray Lewis Linebacker

7
1,325 617
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Lambert Linebacker

8
1,017 467
Bruce Smith is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

9
1,106 370
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

10
1,114 488
Rod Woodson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

11
1,438 498
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Deion Sanders Cornerback, Punt returner, Kickoff returner

12
951 494
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

13
1,095 370
Charles Woodson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Charles Woodson Cornerback, Return specialist, Safety

14
897 447
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Ham Linebacker

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15
757 311
Dick Lane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Dick Lane Cornerback

16
815 359
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Derrick Thomas Linebacker

17
898 356
Ed Reed is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ed Reed Free Safety

18
703 402
Mel Blount is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Mel Blount Cornerback, Defensive back

19
1,050 283
J. J. Watt is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
J. J. Watt Defensive end

20
812 237
Troy Polamalu is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Troy Polamalu Strong Safety

21
637 359
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Junior Seau Linebacker

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22
580 369
Randy White is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Randy White Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Linebacker

23
597 295
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ray Nitschke Linebacker

24
574 304
Alan Page is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Alan Page Defensive tackle, Defensive end

25
660 365
Michael Strahan is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Michael Strahan Defensive end

26
485 314
Darrell Green is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Darrell Green Cornerback

27
525 354
Bob Lilly is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Bob Lilly Defensive tackle

28
487 394
Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time

29
696 357
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Brian Urlacher Linebacker

30
422 170
Howie Long is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
marcooch761 added Howie Long

31
466 234
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Derrick Brooks Linebacker

32
390 268
Jack Youngblood is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Youngblood Defensive end

33
474 240
Julius Peppers is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Julius Peppers Defensive end

34
411 280
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Chuck Bednarik Linebacker, Center

35
467 188
Champ Bailey is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
KobeMr81 added Champ Bailey Cornerback

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36
493 344
Warren Sapp is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Warren Sapp Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Tackle

37
436 231
Steve Atwater is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Steve Atwater Safety, Defensive back

38
420 253
Darrelle Revis is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Darrelle Revis Cornerback

39
297 292
Jim Marshall is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jim Marshall Defensive end

40
222 91
John Randle is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
John Randle Defensive tackle, Defensive end

41
333 239
Dick LeBeau is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

42
283 200
Jared Allen is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Jared Allen Defensive end

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43
215 131
Ed Jones is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

44
267 250
Carl Eller is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Carl Eller Defensive end, Defensive lineman

45
239 143
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Charles Haley Defensive end, Linebacker, Defensive lineman

46
238 224
Paul Krause is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Paul Krause Safety, Defensive back

47
259 200
Lester Hayes is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Al Sobrante added Lester Hayes Cornerback, Safety

48
344 170
James Harrison is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
marcooch761 added James Harrison Outside Linebacker

49
236 229
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ted Hendricks Linebacker

50
209 133
Bubba Smith is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
MarkJStout added Bubba Smith Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Defensive lineman