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The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time

Updated June 7, 2020 43.7k votes 6.9k voters 152.7k views83 items

List RulesPlease rank the players based on their career accomplishments

The key to a winning football games is winning the battle in the trenches. For a defense, the unsung hero down fighting in the frontlines is a defensive tackle. These big, burly guys are the anchor of the defense. Without a great defensive tackle, other pieces of the defense may not be able to function as crisply without these important players. For the most part, only diehard football fans recognize the contributions of defensive tackles and defensive linemen. These guys may not put up the biggest numbers, but often times they can occupy several offensive linemen, clearing the way for their teammates to make a big play.

There are a number of familiar names on this list of the greatest defensive tackles. "Mean" Joe Greene, Bruce Smith and Howie Long are some of the most popular players in Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills and Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders history. Many of these defensive tackles have taken their place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, proving how valuable they were to their team's successes. This list starts with the greatest players of all time and ends with the players who are prett 

Vote for who you think should be considered the greatest defensive tackle of all time on this Ultimate List. There are plenty of great players on this list so you really can't go wrong with who you choose.
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  • Joe Greene1
    2,158
    622
    Charles Edward Greene (born September 5, 1946), better known as "Mean" Joe Greene, is a former... more on Wikipedia
  • Alan Page2
    1,372
    707
    Alan Cedric Page (born August 7, 1945) is a retired jurist and former professional American... more on Wikipedia

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    #46 of 144 The Greatest Chicago Bears of All Time#4 of 82 The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time

  • John Randle3
    1,323
    682
    John Anthony Randle (born December 12, 1967) is a former American football defensive tackle... more on Wikipedia

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    #64 of 322 People Who Should Be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame#287 of 329 The Most Obnoxious Athletes

  • Reggie White4
    1,274
    268
    Reginald Howard White (December 19, 1961 – December 26, 2004) was an American professional... more on Wikipedia
  • Merlin Olsen5
    Merlin Jay Olsen (; September 15, 1940 – March 11, 2010) was an American football player,... more on Wikipedia

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    #12 of 107 College & Professional Athletes Who Were Raised Mormon#19 of 74 Mormon Celebrities

  • Aaron Donald6
    Aaron Charles Donald is an American football defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams of the... more on Wikipedia
  • Bob Lilly7
    1,030
    543
    Robert Lewis Lilly (born July 26, 1939), nicknamed "Mr. Cowboy", is a former American football... more on Wikipedia

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    #1791 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time#86 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever

  • Randy White8
    1,131
    664
    Randall Lee White (born January 15, 1953) is a former American football defensive tackle. He... more on Wikipedia
  • Warren Sapp9
    1,242
    717
    Warren Carlos Sapp (born December 19, 1972) is a former American football defensive tackle. A... more on Wikipedia
  • Deacon Jones10
    David D. "Deacon" Jones (December 9, 1938 – June 3, 2013) was an American football defensive... more on Wikipedia

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    #76 of 150 Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative#5 of 96 The Greatest Defensive Ends of All Time

  • Alex Karras11
    Alexander George Karras (July 15, 1935 – October 10, 2012) was an American football player,... more on Wikipedia
  • Rosey Grier12
    Roosevelt Grier (born July 14, 1932) is an American actor, singer, Protestant minister, and... more on Wikipedia
  • Art Donovan13
    Arthur James Donovan Jr. (June 5, 1924 – August 4, 2013), nicknamed the Bulldog, was an... more on Wikipedia
  • Carl Eller14
    Carl Eller (born January 25, 1942) is a former professional American football player in the... more on Wikipedia
  • Buck Buchanan15
    Junious "Buck" Buchanan (September 10, 1940 – July 16, 1992) was a professional American... more on Wikipedia
  • Vince Wilfork16
    Vincent Lamar Wilfork (born November 4, 1981) is a former American football nose tackle who... more on Wikipedia
  • Cortez Kennedy17
    547
    410

    Cortez Kennedy

    Cortez Kennedy (August 23, 1968 – May 23, 2017) was an American football defensive tackle who... more on Wikipedia
  • Jerome Brown18
    465
    359

    Jerome Brown

    Willie Jerome Brown III (February 4, 1965 – June 25, 1992) was an American football defensive... more on Wikipedia
  • Joe Klecko19
    248
    154

    Joe Klecko

    Joe Klecko (born October 15, 1953 in Chester, Pennsylvania) is a former American football... more on Wikipedia
  • Dan Hampton20
    Daniel Oliver Hampton also known as "Danimal" (born September 19, 1957) is a retired Hall of... more on Wikipedia
  • Geno Atkins21
    Gene "Geno" Reynard Atkins Jr. (born March 28, 1988) is an American football defensive tackle... more on Wikipedia
  • Steve McMichael22
    250
    179

    Steve McMichael

    New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers

    PositionDefensive tackle, Defensive lineman

    BirthplaceHouston, Texas, United States of America

    Age58

    Stephen Douglas "Mongo" McMichael (born October 17, 1957) is a former American college and... more on Wikipedia
  • Haloti Ngata23
    Etuini Haloti Ngata (Tongan pronunciation: [ˈŋata]; born January 21, 1984) is a former... more on Wikipedia
  • Fletcher Cox24
    241
    140

    Fletcher Cox

    Fletcher Cox is an American football defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National... more on Wikipedia
  • Willie Davis25
    Willie D. Davis (born July 24, 1934) is a former American football defensive end for the... more on Wikipedia