football 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
4,545 1,566
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
3,612 1,428
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Dick Butkus Chicago Bears

3
4,536 1,829
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ray Lewis Baltimore Ravens

4
2,722 1,100
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
2,381 901
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Mike Singletary Baylor Bears football, Chicago Bears

6
1,797 848
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Jack Ham Penn State Nittany Lions football

7
1,820 723
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
1,672 920
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
1,398 820
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ray Nitschke Green Bay Packers

10
2,106 923
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
1,301 544
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
bojanthebest added Derrick Brooks Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12
1,430 664
Patrick Willis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
noahjacobs1 added Patrick Willis San Francisco 49ers

13
784 571
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Chuck Bednarik University of Pennsylvania football

14
759 502
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
706 578
Sam Huff is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Sam Huff Washington Redskins, New York Giants

16
905 516
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
695 656
Willie Lanier is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

18
716 475
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
655 452
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
363 124
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
912 509
Von Miller is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Von Miller Texas A&M Aggies football, Denver Broncos

The Very Best Dog Breeds, Ranked

22
531 465
Harry Carson is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

23
346 68
Luke Kuechly is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
nat_merrill added Luke Kuechly Carolina Panthers, Boston College Eagles football

24
548 466
Ted Hendricks is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ted Hendricks Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Colts, Green Bay Packers

25
571 405
London Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
EthanWalker added London Fletcher Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams

26
518 532
Bobby Bell is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

27
328 179
Clay Matthews III is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Clay Matthews III Green Bay Packers

28
216 107
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
391 452
Andre Tippett is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

30
552 462
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
436 326
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
422 302
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
147 87
Jason Taylor is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Jason Taylor Washington Redskins, Akron Zips football, New York Jets

34
288 213
Cornelius Bennett is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Biscuit420 added Cornelius Bennett

35
186 123
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

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36
228 175
Joey Porter is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Joey Porter Pittsburgh Steelers, Colorado State Rams football, Arizona Cardinals

37
279 221
Sam Mills is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
ShaneAdkins added Sam Mills New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars, Carolina Panthers

38
162 109
NaVorro Bowman is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1442432702366 added NaVorro Bowman San Francisco 49ers

39
441 344
Bill Romanowski is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
TehSauce added Bill Romanowski Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers

40
184 139
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
261 204
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
187 142
Levon Kirkland is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Levon Kirkland

The Best Football Players Ever

43
294 317
Rickey Jackson is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

44
141 130
Pat Swilling is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Pat Swilling New Orleans Saints

45
280 265
Lee Roy Jordan is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

46
307 368
Nick Buoniconti is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

47
140 101
Karl Mecklenburg is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Karl Mecklenburg

48
255 336
Chuck Howley is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

49
141 145
Ken Norton, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Ken Norton, Jr.

50
107 80
Robert Mathis is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1442177542662 added Robert Mathis Indianapolis Colts