Football The Greatest Linebackers of All Time  

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Originally by Ranker Community
104.4k votes 14.4k voters 417.5k views 206 items

List Rules Only include linebackers based on their on-field accomplishments

The greatest linebackers of all time are not only the best NFL players to ever play the linebacker position but also some of the most respected and most feared football players of all time. These all-time greats have electrified crowds with their energy and leadership and delivered on the field as some of the NFL's best defensive players ever.

It's hard to claim that anyone other than the great Lawrence Taylor is the best linebacker ever. He made an immeasurable impact on the game, changing it for decades to follow and becoming the star of the league which at that time was dominated by quarterbacks. His explosiveness and raw power was in most cases simply unstoppable and easily qualifies him as one of the top 10 NFL linebackers of all time.

That said, there are plenty of other great linebackers who each had stellar careers of their own. The likes of Dick Butkus, who terrorized offenses during his nine years with the Chicago Bears, Ray Lewis, who served as a perfect combination of talent and heart during his memorable time with the Baltimore Ravens, and Junior Seau, who recorded over 100 tackles for six seasons straight and earned 12 Pro Bowl selections, are all firmly among the best NFL linebackers of all time.

While they don't always get the same level of attention that other positions do, famous linebackers are some of the toughest, smartest, and most hard working players on any NFL team. Have an NFL linebacker that you adore? Vote for your favorite NFL linebackers below, re-rank this list your way, or add any not listed. Then, head over and vote for the greatest tight ends of all time and the greatest NFL punters of all time too!
list ordered by

1
5,226 1,870
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
North Carolina Tar Heels football, New York Giants

2
4,141 1,696
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Chicago Bears

3
5,243 2,163
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Baltimore Ravens

4
3,097 1,291
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Pittsburgh Steelers, Kent State Golden Flashes football

5
2,806 1,036
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Baylor Bears football, Chicago Bears

6
2,034 1,044
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Penn State Nittany Lions football

7
2,142 878
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Alabama Crimson Tide Football, Kansas City Chiefs

8
1,967 1,123
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
USC Trojans football, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins

9
1,625 959
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Green Bay Packers

10
2,506 1,066
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
New Mexico Lobos Football, Chicago Bears

11
1,543 654
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
bojanthebest added Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12
1,651 836
Patrick Willis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
noahjacobs1 added San Francisco 49ers

13
905 675
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
University of Pennsylvania football

14
888 620
Kevin Greene is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Auburn Tigers football

15
796 668
Sam Huff is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Washington Redskins, New York Giants

16
812 743
Willie Lanier is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

17
1,057 636
DeMarcus Ware is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
wiabux added Troy Trojans football, Dallas Cowboys

18
623 151
Luke Kuechly is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
nat_merrill added Carolina Panthers, Boston College Eagles football

19
1,215 604
Von Miller is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Texas A&M Aggies football, Denver Broncos

20
833 601
Zach Thomas is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
ChangesDownClub added Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys

21
827 578
Terrell Suggs is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
megatron81calvin added Arizona State Sun Devils football, Baltimore Ravens

22
537 203
James Harrison is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1449352741656 added Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals

23
660 527
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Colts, Green Bay Packers

24
604 564
Harry Carson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

25
590 603
Bobby Bell is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

26
635 483
London Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
EthanWalker added Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams

27
320 180
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

28
476 281
Clay Matthews III is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Green Bay Packers

29
461 517
Andre Tippett is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

30
654 549
Tedy Bruschi is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Arizona Wildcats football, New England Patriots

31
529 391
Willie McGinest is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
wiabux added USC Trojans football, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns

32
495 361
Chris Spielman is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
ChangesDownClub added Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions

33
227 143
Jason Taylor is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Washington Redskins, Akron Zips football, New York Jets

34
359 282
Sam Mills is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
ShaneAdkins added New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars, Carolina Panthers

35
350 263
Cornelius Bennett is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Biscuit420 added

36
525 414
Bill Romanowski is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
TehSauce added Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers

37
236 176
Greg Lloyd, Sr. is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers

38
275 234
Joey Porter is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Pittsburgh Steelers, Colorado State Rams football, Arizona Cardinals

39
309 252
Carl Banks is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
quantum.svcs added Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants

40
365 358
Rickey Jackson is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

41
217 183
NaVorro Bowman is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1442432702366 added San Francisco 49ers

42
224 196
Lance Briggs is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Arizona Wildcats football, Chicago Bears

43
194 179
Pat Swilling is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added New Orleans Saints

44
362 407
Nick Buoniconti is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

45
332 313
Lee Roy Jordan is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

46
231 197
Levon Kirkland is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added

47
190 138
Karl Mecklenburg is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added

48
304 379
Chuck Howley is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

49
237 197
Mike Curtis is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
RobSpencer added Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore Colts, Washington Redskins

50
193 193
Ken Norton, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added