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The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time 

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Originally by Ranker Community
Updated March 29, 2020 54k votes 6.3k voters 147.1k views 90 items

List Rules Please 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.
list ordered by
1
Joe Greene is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time

Age: 72

Charles Edward Greene (born September 5, 1946), better known as "Mean" Joe Greene, is a former American football defensive tackle who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National ...more

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#1,946 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #7 of 1,536 The Best Football Players Ever #2 of 542 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

2
Alan Page is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
Defensive tackle and Defensive end from Canton, Ohio, United States of America

Age: 70

Alan Cedric Page (born August 7, 1945) is a retired jurist and former professional American football player. He gained national recognition as a defensive tackle in the National Football League ...more

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#27 of 542 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #59 of 140 The Greatest Chicago Bears of All Time

3
John Randle is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
Defensive tackle and Defensive end from Mumford, Texas

Age: 48

John Anthony Randle (born December 12, 1967) is a former American football defensive tackle who played for the Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League (NFL). ...more

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#52 of 348 People Who Should Be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame #32 of 542 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

4
Bob Lilly is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
Defensive tackle from Olney, Texas

Age: 79

Robert Lewis Lilly (born July 26, 1939), nicknamed "Mr. Cowboy", is a former American football defensive tackle and photographer. After a college career at Texas Christian University ...more
5
Reggie White is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
Defensive tackle and Defensive end from Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States of America

Age: Dec. at 43 (1961-2004)

Reginald Howard White (December 19, 1961 – December 26, 2004) was an American professional football player who played defensive end in the National Football League (NFL) for 15 seasons during ...more

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#2,015 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #11 of 79 The Best NFL Player Nicknameslisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

6
Warren Sapp is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
Defensive tackle and Defensive end from Orlando, Florida, United States of America

Age: 43

Warren Carlos Sapp (born December 19, 1972) is a former American football defensive tackle. A Hall of Famer, Sapp played college football for the University of Miami, where he was recognized as ...more

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#6 of 63 The Best Miami Football Players of All Timelisted on The Best 'Dancing With The Stars' Contestants, Ranked

7
Randy White is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
Defensive tackle and Defensive end from Pittsburgh, USA, Pennsylvania

Age: 62

Randall Lee White (born January 15, 1953) is a former American football defensive tackle. He attended the University of Maryland from 1971 to 1974, and played professionally for the Dallas ...more

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#28 of 542 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #16 of 17 The Worst Super Bowl Plays of All Time

8
Merlin Olsen is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time

Age: Dec. at 70 (1940-2010)

Merlin Jay Olsen (; September 15, 1940 – March 11, 2010) was an American football player, announcer, and actor. He played his entire 15-year professional football career in National Football ...more

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#141 of 1,536 The Best Football Players Ever #25 of 95 The Greatest Defensive Ends of All Timelisted on Mormon Celebrities

9
Deacon Jones is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time

Age: Dec. at 75 (1938-2013)

David D. "Deacon" Jones (December 9, 1938 – June 3, 2013) was an American football defensive end in the National Football League (NFL) for the Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, and ...more

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#37 of 79 The Best NFL Player Nicknames #10 of 542 The Greatest Defenders in NFL Historylisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

10
Vince Wilfork is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
teamxtremerocks added Defensive lineman from Boynton Beach, Florida

Age: 34

Vincent Lamar Wilfork (born November 4, 1981) is a former American football nose tackle who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 13 seasons. He played college football for the ...more

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#165 of 1,536 The Best Football Players Ever #104 of 542 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

11
Cortez Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
Cortez Kennedy Defensive tackle from Osceola, Arkansas

Age: 47

Cortez Kennedy (August 23, 1968 – May 23, 2017) was an American football defensive tackle who played his entire eleven-season career with the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League ...more
12
Aaron Donald is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
RamsFan added

Age: 24

Aaron Charles Donald is an American football defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Rams in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He ...more

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#2,089 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #124 of 542 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

13
Jerome Brown is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
willyboymcoy added Jerome Brown Defensive tackle from Brooksville, Florida

Age: Died at 27 (1965-1992)

Willie Jerome Brown III (February 4, 1965 – June 25, 1992) was an American football defensive tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League (NFL). He played his entire ...more

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#377 of 1,536 The Best Football Players Ever #225 of 542 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

14
Buck Buchanan is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
Defensive tackle and Defensive lineman from Gainesville, Alabama

Age: Dec. at 52 (1940-1992)

Junious "Buck" Buchanan (September 10, 1940 – July 16, 1992) was a professional American football defensive tackle with the Kansas City Chiefs in the American Football League (AFL) and ...more

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#757 of 1,536 The Best Football Players Ever #12 of 126 The Best Kansas City Chiefs Of All Time

15
Dan Hampton is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
Defensive tackle and Defensive end from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Age: 61

Daniel Oliver Hampton also known as "Danimal" (born September 19, 1957) is a retired Hall of Fame American football defensive tackle who played twelve seasons for the Chicago Bears ...more

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#84 of 542 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History #12 of 140 The Greatest Chicago Bears of All Time

16
Haloti Ngata is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
HitmanCapone added Defensive end from Los Angeles, Inglewood, California

Age: 35

Etuini Haloti Ngata (Tongan pronunciation: [ˈŋata]; born January 21, 1984) is a former American football defensive tackle. He played college football for the University of Oregon and earned ...more
17
Alex Karras is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
Defensive tackle from USA, Indiana, Gary

Age: Died at 77 (1935-2012)

Alexander George Karras (July 15, 1935 – October 10, 2012) was an American football player, professional wrestler, sportscaster, and actor. He was a four-time Pro Bowl player with the Detroit ...more

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#11 of 116 The Best Detroit Lions of All Time #14 of 348 People Who Should Be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

18
J. J. Watt is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
Defensive end from Waukesha, Wisconsin

Age: 26

Justin James "J. J." Watt (born March 22, 1989) is an American football defensive end for the Houston Texans of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Texans with ...more

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#2,088 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #30 of 1,536 The Best Football Players Ever #4 of 51 The Most Likable Active NFL Players

19
Ndamukong Suh is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
MattSchwarck added Defensive tackle from Portland, Oregon
Ndamukong Ngwa Suh ( in-DAH-mə-kin SOO, born January 6, 1987) is an American football defensive tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college ...more
20
William Perry is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
bdcoop34 added Defensive tackle and Fullback from Aiken, South Carolina, United States of America

Age: 56

William Anthony Perry (born December 16, 1962) is an American former professional football player who was a defensive lineman in the National Football League (NFL) for ten seasons during the ...more

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#1,721 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #150 of 157 Ranking The Greatest WWE Hall of Fame Inductees

21
Art Donovan is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
RobSpencer added Defensive tackle from New York City, New York, United States of America

Age: Dec. at 89 (1924-2013)

Arthur James Donovan Jr. (June 5, 1924 – August 4, 2013), nicknamed the Bulldog, was an American football defensive tackle who played for three National Football League (NFL) teams, most notably ...more
22
Rosey Grier is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time

Age: 83

Roosevelt Grier (born July 14, 1932) is an American actor, singer, Protestant minister, and former professional football player. He was a notable college football player for The Pennsylvania ...more

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#522 of 1,536 The Best Football Players Ever #26 of 97 The Best Penn State Football Players of All Time

23
Steve McMichael is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
Defensive tackle and Defensive lineman from Houston, Texas, United States of America

Teams: New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Texas Longhorns football

Age: 61

Stephen Douglas "Mongo" McMichael (born October 17, 1957) is a former American college and professional football player as a defensive tackle in the National Football League (NFL), a ...more

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#485 of 556 The Greatest Pro Wrestlers of All Time #326 of 1,536 The Best Football Players Ever #93 of 542 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

24
Carl Eller is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
Defensive end and Defensive lineman from Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Age: 77

Carl Eller (born January 25, 1942) is a former professional American football player in the National Football League (NFL) who played from 1964 through 1979. He was born in Winston-Salem, North ...more
25
Joe Klecko is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time
Joe Klecko Defensive tackle and Lineman from Chester, Pennsylvania, United States of America

Age: 62

Joe Klecko (born October 15, 1953 in Chester, Pennsylvania) is a former American football player, of Polish descent, best remembered for his days as Defensive Lineman; a member of the New York ...more

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#58 of 348 People Who Should Be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame #395 of 1,536 The Best Football Players Ever