Best NFL Linebackers of All Time

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The Top TenXW

1Lawrence Taylor

Ray Lewis & LT played different positions, but no way is Ray #1 on any list over LT. LT was so dominating coaches like Joe Gibbs had to change his offense. I would put Ray Lewis on the All Time team beside Butkus & Singletary.

Lawrence Taylor was ranked Number 3 in the NFL Top! 00 All Time player list behind only jim brown and jerry rice

RAY LEWIS IS RANKED 16 you guys make no sense

Greatest of all time... period!
Only 1 of 2 defensive players to win NFL MVP. 2 Superbowl championships...

Lewis is condidered "greatest" because he is still a current player.

Simply the Best NFL Linebacker with all due respect to some great names at this position. Dynastic where opposing coaches lost sleep and hair. - rangerover

V35 Comments
2Ray Lewis

Ray defends everything. If you check his achievements they are very similar to LT's The difference is ray didn't need chemical assistance to achieve his greatness and he was a student who also was a masterful teacher and leader. He was faster than Butkus, more team oriented than LT, and had just as much or more desire than M. Singletary whom I feel are the other elite LB's who played the game.

Like he say, and I quote "they praise QB's for the legacy on how they been able to keep offenses consistent for so long, how long has the Ravens defense been in the top 5 and they left one thing here, 52, the most consistent thing the Ravens has ever had!

Ray Lewis is the definition of a linebacker. He is the quarterback of the defense and takes charge, and he is inspirational, AND he will light you up if you even get near him. BEAST

Best team inspirer and best on the field

V36 Comments
3Dick Butkus

Although I do think Ray Lewis is a beast. Dick Butkus should be #1. Back then players had far fewer resources for fitness, rehab, nutritional knowledge, strength coaches and pathetic equipment to what players have now. I can't even imagine what a freak he would of been if he had half of what athletes get now.

This was a football player! You won't see this kind of toughness and passion in todays game! My top 3 for all time greatest backers would be 1. Butkus 2. Nitchske 3. Lambert because they played when football was not about the $$$ and blood on the jersey was worn with pride! Would love to see Butkus out there in todays game... He might rack up a few fines but it would be fun to watch!

Dick Butkus defined the position and is still the standard of what a linebacker should be. Smart, Hard hitting, and absolutely feared.

He is a beast players against Bradshaw.

V24 Comments
4Jack Lambert

Jack lambert was way better than singletary you don't see singletary in the most feared tacklers list do you?

don't mess around with jack splat. he'll come at you with a fury like no other - madcowsarecrazy

Hey this guy was scary he played middle linebacker at 215 to 220 pounds and would destroy you incredible.

Seriously ray lewis ray lewis is no were near as good as lambert it's a shame he's even in the top 5

V8 Comments
5Patrick Willis

Why is Patrick Willis down at no. 7 sure is stats aren't as interesting as Ray Lewis' or Lawrence Taylor's but that's because he hasn't been in the league as long think of it this way ever since he's been in the NFL he has been in the pro bowl every year except the Superbowl (7x) and all American from when he started (2007) through 2012 (6x) if you take his size and his speed you'll end up with this destructive linebacker Patrick Willis is the only linebacker that has a chance to catch up with a running back in open field ever since he came to the league he has averages over 100 tackle a regular season with only just under 100 by 3 no linebacker has been a better linebacker than he is and to top it off he still hasn't shown us his best if he doesn't end up in the hall of fame even if it's for his childhood (mother died father was abusive had to take care of his siblings work full time in cotton fields at age ten left home at 17 with his siblings yet still will give his father another chance) I'll probably stab and eat someones heart (whoever denied him) with a rusty spoon

With the combination of speed and power, he is one of the greatest linebackers to ever play in NFL history. Even though he is still in his early years of his career he has the stats to prove how great of a player he is. With the speed of an average NFL running back at line backer gives him the talent to chase down many fast running backs and receivers, which makes him versatile in pass coverage and run game

Making it to the pro bowl every single year he's been in the nfl, that says something.

Great on and off the field

V12 Comments
6Brian Urlacher

Of today, sure. But of all time. The guy has already played for a million years and now falcons running back Michael Turner can run over him. The guy is really slowing down and Lance Briggs is moving ahead of him

He is known to be the guy who could accidentally kill people by tackling them.

Love this guys game! Great in coverage, better then anyone on this list and didn't play with other hall of famers like Singletary did. Top five on my list! LT BEST OF ALL TIME THOUGH

7Mike Singletary

I think he should be the best linebacker of all time because on the field he would ask his guys what they should do and it worked and when the play was made 9/10 it would work. Of the field he was a nice guy like Merlin Olsen.

He was probably the most intelligent linebacker in NFL History and should be #3 his instincts and he had such a great ability to read an offense, and he coach Ray Lewis and Patrick Willis before they were great.

Best linebacker ever and smartest ever I seen him in high school used to watch him at pratice twice a day He was so serious and intense in pratice in high school My older brother played high school ball with him

8Ray Nitchske

Ray, was definitely a monster of the day. Anyone that played againest him will tell you that!

The player of the century listed number 8? This is a joke and not a good one! The only linebacker who is even worthy of mention in the same breath is Dick Butkus. Ray Lewis? Fine player but not in the same league!

The toughest player to ever play in the NFL.

Could break into top 2.

V6 Comments
9Derrick Thomas

Could have played at least 4 more years and if he had, with 9 sacks each (easy) would have destroyed the all time career sack record if my math is right. I think that if he had finished his career he would have been number 1 on anyones list. I would like to see a sacks per game stat to compare with the top guys on this list. Keep in mind the Chiefs didn't play a lot of playoff games in DT's career.

With nine Pro-Bowl selections and 1990s all decade selection as just a couple of his accomplishments. He should definitely be hire on this list. RIP.

Fast, Smart, was a serious problem for any offence. RIP

How about Derrick Brooks, or Zack Thomas?

V6 Comments
10Clay Mathews

Clay is a fantastic linebacker, Tell me what Green Bay Packer play have you heard on defense that Clay isn't there? By far the best along side A.J. hawk. - Celmore

Clay Mathews is a beast no matter where he ranks on here

Clay Mathews is the best linebacker and he is a beast!

The best and so much better than Ray Lewis.

V7 Comments

The Contenders

11Junior Seau

Played for 20 years. The first ten years of his career, which were his best, they did not keep stats on tackles made, and that is what he did best. So you can more than double his tackle stat numbers at the least. Inspirational to the whole team and any community he was associated with.

I saw Junior in person for many years. It seemed that if he did not make the tackle himself he was almost always involved in making the stop. Also he was somewhat underrated because he played his prime years in San Diego.

During his prime.. No one was better. #55 made a it fun to watch the Chargers.

The first sentence says it all!

V7 Comments
12Jack Ham

By far the most technically sound linebacker ever. He is very underrated playing in the same corps as Lambert. The best defense of all time (70's Steelers) had 10 starting Pro Bowlers, Ham included. No linebacker was better in pass coverage than Ham, a great compliment to the tenacious Lambert.

13Derrick Brooks

NO. 29 IS DERRICK BROOKS? FAR TO LOW! He would not let you get back to the line of scrimmage no matter what. He was also a leader of the best defense of the 00's and led a franchise turnaround. - greatesttop10s

Really? Clearly should be top 5 minimum.

Way too low. Should be in top ten

V5 Comments
14Tedy Bruschi

Someone else said it best! To be a good Linebacker after a stroke says it all! That's in a Pickup game, but to be Good in the NFL is amazing!

YOU DON'T COME BACK FROM A STROKE AND STILL BE AWESOME. HE DID

15Chuck Bednarik

He almost killed a guy!

Played both ways.WW11 vet.Toughest guy on the field all the time.

This guy was one Bad MFer. Left people unconscious on the field. There are many good Linebackers on this list, Nitschke etc.. Ray Lewis was good and I agree better than LT, but you can't count out the older generation - shorter seasons, less rules, and PAIN

16Harry Carson
17Rob Morris
18A.J. Hawk

Are you kidding me? Aj hawk? I'm the biggest packer fan alive, and he is not even in the top 1000 linebackers of all time

19Willie Lanier

Butkus - lambert - then Lanier - that's just the way it is

20Joe Schmidt
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List StatsUpdated 31 Aug 2015

1,000 votes
50 listings
6 years, 233 days old

Top Remixes (13)

1. Patrick Willis
2. Lawrence Taylor
3. Ray Lewis
lorinandsam
1. Lawrence Taylor
2. Dick Butkus
3. Ray Lewis
jareddike
1. Clay Mathews
2. A.J. Hawk
3. Ray Lewis
Celmore

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