football The Greatest Linebackers of All Time  

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Originally by Ranker Community
92.7k votes 13.1k voters 407.9k 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!
list ordered by

1
4,780 1,680
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
4,780 1,952
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ray Lewis Baltimore Ravens

3
3,788 1,537
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Dick Butkus Chicago Bears

4
2,861 1,175
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
2,528 959
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Mike Singletary Baylor Bears football, Chicago Bears

6
1,884 926
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Jack Ham Penn State Nittany Lions football

7
1,930 791
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
1,776 1,005
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
1,479 873
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ray Nitschke Green Bay Packers

10
2,227 983
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
1,383 594
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
bojanthebest added Derrick Brooks Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12
1,511 732
Patrick Willis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
noahjacobs1 added Patrick Willis San Francisco 49ers

13
834 609
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Chuck Bednarik University of Pennsylvania football

14
810 550
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 Best NFL Running Backs of All Time

15
743 617
Sam Huff is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Sam Huff Washington Redskins, New York Giants

16
746 692
Willie Lanier is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

17
961 569
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
762 522
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
717 504
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
1,017 542
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
554 505
Harry Carson is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

Political Issues That Matter the Most Right Now

22
589 488
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
448 100
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
408 168
James Harrison is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1449352741656 added James Harrison Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals

25
541 558
Bobby Bell is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

26
595 437
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
387 211
Clay Matthews III is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Clay Matthews III Green Bay Packers

28
257 138
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

The Best Wide Receivers of All Time

29
414 478
Andre Tippett is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

30
584 494
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
462 356
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
453 326
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
309 232
Cornelius Bennett is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Biscuit420 added Cornelius Bennett

34
309 246
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
476 365
Bill Romanowski is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
TehSauce added Bill Romanowski Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers

37 Celebrities Who Played High School Basketball

36
164 110
Jason Taylor is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Jason Taylor Washington Redskins, Akron Zips football, New York Jets

37
203 149
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
243 203
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
184 140
NaVorro Bowman is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1442432702366 added NaVorro Bowman San Francisco 49ers

40
279 226
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
199 164
Lance Briggs is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Lance Briggs Arizona Wildcats football, Chicago Bears

42
317 332
Rickey Jackson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

The Greatest Defenders in NFL History

43
329 383
Nick Buoniconti is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

44
302 287
Lee Roy Jordan is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

45
169 163
Ken Norton, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Ken Norton, Jr.

46
199 170
Levon Kirkland is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Levon Kirkland

47
157 152
Pat Swilling is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Pat Swilling New Orleans Saints

48
159 115
Karl Mecklenburg is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Karl Mecklenburg

49
354 447
Randy Gradishar is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Randy Gradishar Denver Broncos

50
270 359
Chuck Howley is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time