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
2,951 880
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Lawrence Taylor Linebacker

2
2,129 792
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Reggie White Defensive tackle, Defensive end

3
1,966 706
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Joe Greene Defensive tackle

4
1,545 662
Ronnie Lott is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ronnie Lott Cornerback, Safety, Defensive back

5
1,685 748
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Dick Butkus Linebacker, Center

6
2,091 876
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ray Lewis Linebacker

7
1,448 681
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Lambert Linebacker

8
1,139 519
Bruce Smith is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Bruce Smith Defensive end

9
1,219 416
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Deacon Jones Defensive end

10
1,611 554
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Deion Sanders Cornerback, Punt returner, Kickoff returner

11
1,214 547
Rod Woodson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Rod Woodson Defensive back

12
1,041 545
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Mike Singletary Linebacker

13
1,207 422
Charles Woodson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Charles Woodson Cornerback, Return specialist, Safety

14
972 489
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Ham Linebacker

15
850 346
Dick Lane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Dick Lane Cornerback

16
1,015 399
Ed Reed is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ed Reed Free Safety

17
886 406
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Derrick Thomas Linebacker

18
773 440
Mel Blount is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Mel Blount Cornerback, Defensive back

19
1,163 362
J. J. Watt is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
J. J. Watt Defensive end

20
923 277
Troy Polamalu is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Troy Polamalu Strong Safety

21
709 397
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Junior Seau Linebacker

22
627 408
Randy White is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Randy White Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Linebacker

23
631 331
Alan Page is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Alan Page Defensive tackle, Defensive end

24
726 397
Michael Strahan is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Michael Strahan Defensive end

25
644 328
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ray Nitschke Linebacker

26
533 338
Darrell Green is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Darrell Green Cornerback

27
572 376
Bob Lilly is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Bob Lilly Defensive tackle

28
524 425
Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Merlin Olsen Defensive tackle

29
778 388
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Brian Urlacher Linebacker

30
475 191
Howie Long is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
marcooch761 added Howie Long Defensive end

31
510 254
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Derrick Brooks Linebacker

32
429 286
Jack Youngblood is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jack Youngblood Defensive end

33
525 265
Julius Peppers is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Julius Peppers Defensive end

34
440 303
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Chuck Bednarik Linebacker, Center

35
484 248
Steve Atwater is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Steve Atwater Safety, Defensive back

36
521 209
Champ Bailey is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
KobeMr81 added Champ Bailey Cornerback

37
545 374
Warren Sapp is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Warren Sapp Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Tackle

38
276 112
John Randle is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
John Randle Defensive tackle, Defensive end

39
465 282
Darrelle Revis is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
EthanWalker added Darrelle Revis Cornerback

40
327 318
Jim Marshall is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Jim Marshall Defensive end

41
361 259
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
255 147
Ed Jones is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ed Jones Defensive end

44
279 159
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Charles Haley Defensive end, Linebacker, Defensive lineman

45
293 217
Lester Hayes is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Al Sobrante added Lester Hayes Cornerback, Safety

46
292 272
Carl Eller is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Carl Eller Defensive end, Defensive lineman

47
263 246
Paul Krause is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Paul Krause Safety, Defensive back

48
241 147
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
259 244
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
Ted Hendricks Linebacker

50
378 190
James Harrison is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Defenders in NFL History
marcooch761 added James Harrison Outside Linebacker