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
3,400 973
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

2
2,370 913
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end

3
2,169 814
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle

4
1,736 764
Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back

5
1,875 843
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker, Center

6
2,345 966
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

7
1,277 586
Bruce Smith is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

8
1,577 769
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

9
1,341 609
Rod Woodson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive back

10
1,833 630
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Punt returner, Kickoff returner

11
1,341 475
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

12
1,169 606
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

13
1,340 477
Charles Woodson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Return specialist, Safety

14
1,171 446
Ed Reed is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Free Safety

15
953 396
Dick Lane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback

16
1,044 556
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

17
989 461
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

18
852 492
Mel Blount is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback, Defensive back

19
795 447
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

20
1,051 341
Troy Polamalu is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Strong Safety

21
1,364 438
J. J. Watt is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

22
694 461
Randy White is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Linebacker

23
825 446
Michael Strahan is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

24
594 383
Darrell Green is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Cornerback

25
704 375
Alan Page is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end

26
715 360
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

27
642 410
Bob Lilly is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle

28
896 417
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

29
577 465
Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle

30
550 215
Howie Long is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
marcooch761 added Defensive end

31
564 287
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

32
604 241
Champ Bailey is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
KobeMr81 added Cornerback

33
484 314
Jack Youngblood is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

34
609 298
Julius Peppers is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Defensive end

35
548 277
Steve Atwater is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Safety, Defensive back

36
612 406
Warren Sapp is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Tackle

37
334 140
John Randle is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive tackle, Defensive end

38
476 338
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker, Center

39
363 345
Jim Marshall is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

40
518 318
Darrelle Revis is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Cornerback

41
404 284
Dick LeBeau is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive back

42
332 96
Von Miller is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
AC_rockets56 added Outside Linebacker, Defensive end

43
346 259
Jared Allen is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Defensive end

44
301 175
Ed Jones is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end

45
332 181
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end, Linebacker, Defensive lineman

46
429 217
James Harrison is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
marcooch761 added Outside Linebacker

47
318 265
Paul Krause is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Safety, Defensive back

48
402 206
DeMarcus Ware is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Defensive end, Linebacker

49
299 266
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Linebacker

50
325 298
Carl Eller is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Defensive end, Defensive lineman