Football The Greatest Linebackers of All Time  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
100k votes 13.9k voters 413.7k 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
5,039 1,818
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
5,073 2,079
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ray Lewis Baltimore Ravens

3
4,006 1,636
Dick Butkus is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Dick Butkus Chicago Bears

4
3,007 1,246
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
2,706 998
Mike Singletary is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Mike Singletary Baylor Bears football, Chicago Bears

6
1,981 1,000
Jack Ham is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Jack Ham Penn State Nittany Lions football

7
2,056 847
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
1,889 1,080
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
1,567 930
Ray Nitschke is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Ray Nitschke Green Bay Packers

10
2,394 1,040
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
1,482 635
Derrick Brooks is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
bojanthebest added Derrick Brooks Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12
1,599 796
Patrick Willis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
noahjacobs1 added Patrick Willis San Francisco 49ers

13
880 651
Chuck Bednarik is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Chuck Bednarik University of Pennsylvania football

14
855 597
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
779 650
Sam Huff is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Sam Huff Washington Redskins, New York Giants

16
790 725
Willie Lanier is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

17
1,032 610
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
811 577
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
1,141 586
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
783 558
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
558 133
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
490 191
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
634 517
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
586 548
Harry Carson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

25
579 586
Bobby Bell is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

26
622 462
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
302 164
Charles Haley is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

28
441 502
Andre Tippett is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

29
436 258
Clay Matthews III is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Clay Matthews III Green Bay Packers

30
627 532
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
505 377
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
477 348
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
204 132
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
348 267
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
336 253
Cornelius Bennett is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Biscuit420 added Cornelius Bennett

36
504 400
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
224 167
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
265 224
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
297 245
Carl Banks is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
quantum.svcs added Carl Banks Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants

40
207 169
NaVorro Bowman is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
_1442432702366 added NaVorro Bowman San Francisco 49ers

41
351 349
Rickey Jackson is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

42
217 184
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
181 170
Pat Swilling is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Pat Swilling New Orleans Saints

44
320 308
Lee Roy Jordan is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

45
345 402
Nick Buoniconti is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

46
176 131
Karl Mecklenburg is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Karl Mecklenburg

47
289 374
Chuck Howley is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time

48
214 191
Levon Kirkland is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Levon Kirkland

49
181 185
Ken Norton, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
chile6880 added Ken Norton, Jr.

50
368 466
Randy Gradishar is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Linebackers of All Time
Randy Gradishar Denver Broncos