7.0k voters

The Greatest Defensive Tackles of All Time

Updated June 7, 2020 42.3k votes 7.0k voters 153.8k 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.
  • Joe Greene1
    Charles Edward Greene (born September 5, 1946), better known as "Mean" Joe Greene, is a former...  more

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  • John Randle2
    John Anthony Randle (born December 12, 1967) is a former American football defensive tackle...  more

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  • Alan Page3
    Alan Cedric Page (born August 7, 1945) is a retired jurist and former professional American...  more

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  • Reggie White4
    Reginald Howard White (December 19, 1961 – December 26, 2004) was an American professional...  more

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  • Aaron Donald5
    Aaron Charles Donald is an American football defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams of the...  more

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  • Merlin Olsen6
    Merlin Jay Olsen (; September 15, 1940 – March 11, 2010) was an American football player,...  more

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  • Bob Lilly7
    Robert Lewis Lilly (born July 26, 1939), nicknamed "Mr. Cowboy", is a former American football...  more

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    #83 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever#35 of 432 The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

  • Warren Sapp8
    Warren Carlos Sapp (born December 19, 1972) is a former American football defensive tackle. A...  more

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  • Randy White9
    Randall Lee White (born January 15, 1953) is a former American football defensive tackle. He...  more

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  • Deacon Jones10
    David D. "Deacon" Jones (December 9, 1938 – June 3, 2013) was an American football defensive...  more

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  • Alex Karras11
    Alexander George Karras (July 15, 1935 – October 10, 2012) was an American football player,...  more

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  • Rosey Grier12
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  • Art Donovan13
    Arthur James Donovan Jr. (June 5, 1924 – August 4, 2013), nicknamed the Bulldog, was an...  more
  • Carl Eller14
    Carl Eller (born January 25, 1942) is a former professional American football player in the...  more

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  • Buck Buchanan15
    Junious "Buck" Buchanan (September 10, 1940 – July 16, 1992) was a professional American...  more
  • Vince Wilfork16
    Vincent Lamar Wilfork (born November 4, 1981) is a former American football nose tackle who...  more

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  • Cortez Kennedy17

    Cortez Kennedy

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

    Jerome Brown

    Willie Jerome Brown III (February 4, 1965 – June 25, 1992) was an American football defensive...  more


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  • Dan Hampton19
    Daniel Oliver Hampton also known as "Danimal" (born September 19, 1957) is a retired Hall of...  more

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  • Joe Klecko20

    Joe Klecko

    Joe Klecko (born October 15, 1953 in Chester, Pennsylvania) is a former American football...  more


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  • Steve McMichael21

    Steve McMichael

    New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers

    PositionDefensive tackle, Defensive lineman

    BirthplaceHouston, Texas, United States of America


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  • Geno Atkins22
    Gene "Geno" Reynard Atkins Jr. (born March 28, 1988) is an American football defensive tackle...  more
  • Fletcher Cox23

    Fletcher Cox

    Fletcher Cox is an American football defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National...  more
  • Haloti Ngata24
    Etuini Haloti Ngata (Tongan pronunciation: [ˈŋata]; born January 21, 1984) is a former...  more
  • Willie Davis25
    Willie D. Davis (born July 24, 1934) is a former American football defensive end for the...  more

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