Football The Greatest Linebackers of All Time  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
100.3k votes 13.9k voters 414k 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!

1
5,055 1,825
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
5,087 2,086
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ray Lewis Baltimore Ravens

3
4,016 1,638
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Dick Butkus Chicago Bears

4
3,015 1,247
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
2,715 1,001
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Mike Singletary Baylor Bears football, Chicago Bears

6
1,984 1,002
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Jack Ham Penn State Nittany Lions football

7
2,060 850
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
1,892 1,084
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
1,571 931
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ray Nitschke Green Bay Packers

10
2,403 1,044
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
1,487 638
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
bojanthebest added Derrick Brooks Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12
1,605 799
Patrick Willis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
noahjacobs1 added Patrick Willis San Francisco 49ers

13
881 654
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Chuck Bednarik University of Pennsylvania football

14
858 599
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
781 651
Sam Huff is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Sam Huff Washington Redskins, New York Giants

16
792 727
Willie Lanier is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

17
1,034 615
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
813 580
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
1,146 591
Von Miller is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Von Miller Texas A&M Aggies football, Denver Broncos

20
787 561
Terrell Suggs is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
megatron81calvin added Terrell Suggs Arizona State Sun Devils football, Baltimore Ravens

21
563 134
Luke Kuechly is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
nat_merrill added Luke Kuechly Carolina Panthers, Boston College Eagles football

22
495 193
James Harrison is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1449352741656 added James Harrison Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals

23
638 517
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
588 553
Harry Carson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

25
579 590
Bobby Bell is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

26
623 466
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
302 168
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

28
441 506
Andre Tippett is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

29
440 260
Clay Matthews III is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Clay Matthews III Green Bay Packers

30
629 535
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
506 380
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
480 351
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
205 135
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
348 271
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
336 255
Cornelius Bennett is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Biscuit420 added Cornelius Bennett

36
508 401
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
225 170
Greg Lloyd, Sr. is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Greg Lloyd, Sr. Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers

38
266 227
Joey Porter is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Joey Porter Pittsburgh Steelers, Colorado State Rams football, Arizona Cardinals

39
209 173
NaVorro Bowman is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1442432702366 added NaVorro Bowman San Francisco 49ers

40
297 248
Carl Banks is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
quantum.svcs added Carl Banks Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants

41
351 352
Rickey Jackson is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

42
217 188
Lance Briggs is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Lance Briggs Arizona Wildcats football, Chicago Bears

43
181 174
Pat Swilling is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Pat Swilling New Orleans Saints

44
348 402
Nick Buoniconti is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

45
320 310
Lee Roy Jordan is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

46
290 376
Chuck Howley is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

47
177 133
Karl Mecklenburg is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Karl Mecklenburg

48
215 193
Levon Kirkland is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Levon Kirkland

49
183 186
Ken Norton, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Ken Norton, Jr.

50
370 466
Randy Gradishar is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Randy Gradishar Denver Broncos