sports The Greatest Linebackers of All Time  

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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
4,352 1,477
Lawrence Taylor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Lawrence Taylor North Carolina Tar Heels football, New York Giants

The Dirtiest NFL Players of All Time The Best Jeeps of All Time

2
3,459 1,345
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Dick Butkus Chicago Bears

3
4,295 1,744
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ray Lewis Baltimore Ravens

4
2,622 1,030
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Jack Lambert Pittsburgh Steelers, Kent State Golden Flashes football

5
2,253 859
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Mike Singletary Baylor Bears football, Chicago Bears

6
1,725 794
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Jack Ham Penn State Nittany Lions football

7
1,742 672
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Derrick Thomas Alabama Crimson Tide Football, Kansas City Chiefs

8
1,593 868
Junior Seau is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Junior Seau USC Trojans football, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins

9
1,323 777
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ray Nitschke Green Bay Packers

10
1,995 878
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Brian Urlacher New Mexico Lobos Football, Chicago Bears

11
1,248 500
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
bojanthebest added Derrick Brooks Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12
1,365 625
Patrick Willis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
noahjacobs1 added Patrick Willis San Francisco 49ers

13
750 535
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Chuck Bednarik University of Pennsylvania football

14
720 465
Kevin Greene is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Kevin Greene Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Auburn Tigers football

15
686 548
Sam Huff is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Sam Huff Washington Redskins, New York Giants

The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time The Creepiest Sports Mascots

16
858 483
DeMarcus Ware is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
wiabux added DeMarcus Ware Troy Trojans football, Dallas Cowboys

17
673 625
Willie Lanier is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

18
689 434
Zach Thomas is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
ChangesDownClub added Zach Thomas Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys

19
608 410
Terrell Suggs is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
megatron81calvin added Terrell Suggs Arizona State Sun Devils football, Baltimore Ravens

20
301 83
James Harrison is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1449352741656 added James Harrison Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals

21
508 438
Harry Carson is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

22
818 475
Von Miller is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Von Miller Texas A&M Aggies football, Denver Broncos

23
520 448
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ted Hendricks Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Colts, Green Bay Packers

24
549 383
London Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
EthanWalker added London Fletcher Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams

25
509 507
Bobby Bell is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

26
276 148
Clay Matthews III is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Clay Matthews III Green Bay Packers

27
252 47
Luke Kuechly is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
nat_merrill added Luke Kuechly Carolina Panthers, Boston College Eagles football

28
179 90
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

29
373 436
Andre Tippett is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

The Best Football Players Ever The Best Things About Fall

30
523 438
Tedy Bruschi is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Tedy Bruschi Arizona Wildcats football, New England Patriots

31
405 309
Willie McGinest is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
wiabux added Willie McGinest USC Trojans football, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns

32
401 284
Chris Spielman is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
ChangesDownClub added Chris Spielman Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions

33
276 196
Cornelius Bennett is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Biscuit420 added Cornelius Bennett

34
209 150
Joey Porter is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Joey Porter Pittsburgh Steelers, Colorado State Rams football, Arizona Cardinals

35
162 105
Greg Lloyd, Sr. is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Greg Lloyd, Sr. Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers

36
261 205
Sam Mills is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
ShaneAdkins added Sam Mills New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars, Carolina Panthers

37
143 93
NaVorro Bowman is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1442432702366 added NaVorro Bowman San Francisco 49ers

38
120 70
Jason Taylor is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Jason Taylor Washington Redskins, Akron Zips football, New York Jets

39
247 188
Carl Banks is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
quantum.svcs added Carl Banks Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants

40
167 124
Lance Briggs is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Lance Briggs Arizona Wildcats football, Chicago Bears

41
417 332
Bill Romanowski is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
TehSauce added Bill Romanowski Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers

42
272 301
Rickey Jackson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

43
264 251
Lee Roy Jordan is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

The Best Quarterbacks of All Time The Greatest Albums of All Time

44
128 114
Pat Swilling is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Pat Swilling New Orleans Saints

45
171 123
Levon Kirkland is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Levon Kirkland

46
294 353
Nick Buoniconti is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

47
125 90
Karl Mecklenburg is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Karl Mecklenburg

48
144 101
James Farrior is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added James Farrior Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets

49
127 129
Ken Norton, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Ken Norton, Jr.

50
156 97
Lawrence Timmons is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
madd added Lawrence Timmons Pittsburgh Steelers