Football The Greatest Linebackers of All Time  

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Originally by Ranker Community
102.4k votes 14.2k voters 415.8k 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
5,145 1,853
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
4,087 1,670
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Chicago Bears

3
5,167 2,127
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Baltimore Ravens

4
3,059 1,268
Jack Lambert is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Pittsburgh Steelers, Kent State Golden Flashes football

5
2,759 1,020
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Baylor Bears football, Chicago Bears

6
2,014 1,024
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Penn State Nittany Lions football

7
2,101 864
Derrick Thomas is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Alabama Crimson Tide Football, Kansas City Chiefs

8
1,931 1,105
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
1,596 944
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Green Bay Packers

10
2,448 1,057
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
New Mexico Lobos Football, Chicago Bears

11
1,519 644
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
bojanthebest added Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12
1,629 816
Patrick Willis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
noahjacobs1 added San Francisco 49ers

13
895 661
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
University of Pennsylvania football

14
873 609
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
790 657
Sam Huff is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Washington Redskins, New York Giants

16
803 734
Willie Lanier is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

17
1,044 622
DeMarcus Ware is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
wiabux added Troy Trojans football, Dallas Cowboys

18
827 587
Zach Thomas is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
ChangesDownClub added Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys

19
588 142
Luke Kuechly is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
nat_merrill added Carolina Panthers, Boston College Eagles football

20
1,180 598
Von Miller is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Texas A&M Aggies football, Denver Broncos

21
810 568
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
510 197
James Harrison is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1449352741656 added Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals

23
651 521
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Colts, Green Bay Packers

24
597 559
Harry Carson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

25
583 598
Bobby Bell is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

26
628 476
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
308 175
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

28
450 513
Andre Tippett is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

29
451 272
Clay Matthews III is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Green Bay Packers

30
636 544
Tedy Bruschi is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Arizona Wildcats football, New England Patriots

31
515 386
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
485 356
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
214 140
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
352 277
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
341 259
Cornelius Bennett is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Biscuit420 added

36
517 406
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
231 174
Greg Lloyd, Sr. is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers

38
270 231
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
303 251
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
357 356
Rickey Jackson is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

41
210 178
NaVorro Bowman is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1442432702366 added San Francisco 49ers

42
220 193
Lance Briggs is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Arizona Wildcats football, Chicago Bears

43
185 178
Pat Swilling is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added New Orleans Saints

44
326 312
Lee Roy Jordan is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

45
350 407
Nick Buoniconti is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

46
297 377
Chuck Howley is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

47
221 196
Levon Kirkland is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added

48
180 137
Karl Mecklenburg is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added

49
228 197
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
374 470
Randy Gradishar is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Denver Broncos