football The Greatest Linebackers of All Time  

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Originally by Ranker Community
94.8k votes 13.3k voters 409.1k views 199 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!

1
4,851 1,718
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

2
3,853 1,570
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Dick Butkus Chicago Bears

3
4,851 1,989
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ray Lewis Baltimore Ravens

4
2,909 1,198
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
2,579 972
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Mike Singletary Baylor Bears football, Chicago Bears

6
1,915 951
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Jack Ham Penn State Nittany Lions football

7
1,965 806
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
1,809 1,025
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
1,508 888
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ray Nitschke Green Bay Packers

10
2,273 1,002
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
1,414 608
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
bojanthebest added Derrick Brooks Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12
1,537 752
Patrick Willis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
noahjacobs1 added Patrick Willis San Francisco 49ers

13
844 621
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Chuck Bednarik University of Pennsylvania football

14
825 558
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

The Dirtiest NFL Players of All Time

15
752 625
Sam Huff is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Sam Huff Washington Redskins, New York Giants

16
757 701
Willie Lanier is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

17
987 575
DeMarcus Ware is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
wiabux added DeMarcus Ware Troy Trojans football, Dallas Cowboys

18
774 536
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
740 514
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
1,059 550
Von Miller is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Von Miller Texas A&M Aggies football, Denver Broncos

21
564 516
Harry Carson is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

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22
605 495
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ted Hendricks Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Colts, Green Bay Packers

23
429 172
James Harrison is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1449352741656 added James Harrison Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals

24
471 109
Luke Kuechly is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
nat_merrill added Luke Kuechly Carolina Panthers, Boston College Eagles football

25
549 564
Bobby Bell is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

26
604 441
London Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
EthanWalker added London Fletcher Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams

27
401 221
Clay Matthews III is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Clay Matthews III Green Bay Packers

28
266 145
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time

29
421 483
Andre Tippett is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

30
595 503
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
475 360
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
459 330
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
316 236
Cornelius Bennett is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Biscuit420 added Cornelius Bennett

34
318 252
Sam Mills is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
ShaneAdkins added Sam Mills New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars, Carolina Panthers

35
174 114
Jason Taylor is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Jason Taylor Washington Redskins, Akron Zips football, New York Jets

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36
481 371
Bill Romanowski is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
TehSauce added Bill Romanowski Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers

37
250 208
Joey Porter is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Joey Porter Pittsburgh Steelers, Colorado State Rams football, Arizona Cardinals

38
208 154
Greg Lloyd, Sr. is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Greg Lloyd, Sr. Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers

39
193 145
NaVorro Bowman is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1442432702366 added NaVorro Bowman San Francisco 49ers

40
205 167
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
283 233
Carl Banks is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
quantum.svcs added Carl Banks Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants

42
321 337
Rickey Jackson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

The Best Football Players Ever

43
333 386
Nick Buoniconti is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

44
307 292
Lee Roy Jordan is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

45
174 168
Ken Norton, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Ken Norton, Jr.

46
161 158
Pat Swilling is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Pat Swilling New Orleans Saints

47
204 178
Levon Kirkland is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Levon Kirkland

48
163 118
Karl Mecklenburg is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Karl Mecklenburg

49
275 363
Chuck Howley is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

50
358 451
Randy Gradishar is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Randy Gradishar Denver Broncos