Football The Greatest Linebackers of All Time  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
106.4k votes 14.6k voters 418.8k 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
5,298 1,894
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
4,193 1,721
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Chicago Bears

3
5,304 2,198
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Baltimore Ravens

4
2,848 1,047
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Baylor Bears football, Chicago Bears

5
3,134 1,308
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Pittsburgh Steelers, Kent State Golden Flashes football

6
2,065 1,058
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Penn State Nittany Lions football

7
2,179 889
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Alabama Crimson Tide Football, Kansas City Chiefs

8
1,995 1,144
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
1,642 978
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Green Bay Packers

10
2,548 1,079
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
New Mexico Lobos Football, Chicago Bears

11
1,565 665
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
bojanthebest added Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12
1,671 852
Patrick Willis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
noahjacobs1 added San Francisco 49ers

13
915 692
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
University of Pennsylvania football

14
899 632
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
803 683
Sam Huff is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Washington Redskins, New York Giants

16
825 754
Willie Lanier is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

17
1,072 647
DeMarcus Ware is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
wiabux added Troy Trojans football, Dallas Cowboys

18
648 162
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
1,245 617
Von Miller is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Texas A&M Aggies football, Denver Broncos

20
842 617
Zach Thomas is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
ChangesDownClub added Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys

21
845 588
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
551 211
James Harrison is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1449352741656 added Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals

23
670 535
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Colts, Green Bay Packers

24
610 576
Harry Carson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

25
595 616
Bobby Bell is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

26
641 492
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
337 186
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

28
469 527
Andre Tippett is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

29
486 293
Clay Matthews III is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Green Bay Packers

30
661 558
Tedy Bruschi is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Arizona Wildcats football, New England Patriots

31
537 401
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
502 369
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
238 151
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
365 290
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
356 268
Cornelius Bennett is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Biscuit420 added

36
534 421
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
242 179
Greg Lloyd, Sr. is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers

38
279 239
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
377 361
Rickey Jackson is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

40
317 257
Carl Banks is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
quantum.svcs added Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants

41
223 188
NaVorro Bowman is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1442432702366 added San Francisco 49ers

42
232 201
Lance Briggs is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Arizona Wildcats football, Chicago Bears

43
197 184
Pat Swilling is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added New Orleans Saints

44
366 412
Nick Buoniconti is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

45
334 318
Lee Roy Jordan is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

46
235 201
Levon Kirkland is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added

47
193 142
Karl Mecklenburg is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added

48
307 384
Chuck Howley is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

49
199 196
Ken Norton, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added

50
241 202
Mike Curtis is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
RobSpencer added Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore Colts, Washington Redskins