Best NFL Linebackers of All Time

The Top Ten

1 Lawrence Taylor


LT is the reason left tackles became important in modern NFL.

Shares the same birthday as me.
Last defensive player to win NFL MVP
Easily the greatest defensive PLAYER of all time.

He was unstoppable for anyone who tried to block him he Is king of the national football league if he played or not you can't stop the king of football

2 Ray Lewis Raymond Anthony Lewis Jr. is a former American football linebacker who played his entire 17-year career for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League.

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.

Ray Lewis looks weirdly like Mike vick
He da goat

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

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!

3 Dick Butkus

I have seen Butkus play and Lewis and Taylor are not in the same league. Butkus had to do it on his own, no help like the other two had. Butkus tackled like no one else. After one game, one asked about the players being treated. The answer was simple, "Butkus".
Enough said.

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.

Butkus utterly dominated without modern high tech training, drugs or championship level teams around him. He did it all on his own for almost a decade and made himself the most feared, punishing hitter ever. Almost a one man offense stopping machine. That alone puts him at #1 in my book but he did it all nearly perfectly and wrote the book for the modern linebacker. There is nobody else quite like him.

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!

4 Jack Lambert

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

I loved watching Lambert play. He looked too small to hit hard but man could he ever. He smack talked just a little more than I like to see but he really backed it up with the hard hits and really smart play. He should be up near the top of any list of the all time greatest.

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

Gave a whole new meaning to the phrase, "Getting your Clock Cleaned".

5 Patrick Willis Patrick L. Willis is a former American football linebacker who played his entire eight-year career with the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League.

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 ...more

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.

Best Linebacker today and we still haven't seen his best no doubt he should be number one fastest linebacker alive which makes up for tackling running backs or wide receivers in open field

6 Brian Urlacher Brian Urlacher is a former American football linebacker who spent his entire 13-year career playing for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League.

Brain urlacher is the best

My favorite of all time!

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

Maybe not the best all-time, but of modern linebackers he's in the top 3 and should be a first ballot hall of fame inductee.

7 Mike 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.

Probably the craziest linebacker there ever was, and in a good way. Butkus was intense physically and verbally, but Singletary was intense and on the verge of crazy in mental aspect of how he played. Theisman and others called him "Crazy Eyes" for a reason. Not many have ever had as much heart, passion, and football smarts.

He led 85 bears defense and that was the greatest team ever

8 Ray Nitchske

All great, but with Taylor and Lewis at the top of the list, poll was obviously taken by younger people. Nobody hit like nitchske and butkus

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

He still has many years and can do greater over the years so I definitely wouldn't but him on this list yet there are many other great linebackers!

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!

9 Derrick 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.

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

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.

How about Derrick Brooks, or Zack Thomas?

10 Clay Mathews

Definitely one of the best active linebackers.

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

This is not a good choice. Matthews is still midway through his career, and even though he is dominant at his position today, there are several players who have had a hall of fame, all pro career

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

The Contenders

11 Junior Seau

Put him higher because ray lewis is only good because his team and is only famous because his dancing and the only way to prove your a real linebacker is if you die cause of your hits and you will be known please put him higher and even ray lewis won the superbowl because he had a good team but junior lead his team he should be in the top 2 without a doubt and a question

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.

You can't put clay Mathews over junior seau clay Matthews isn't there yet maybe in a couple more years maybe but even then junior seau should be in the top ten

12 Jack Ham Jack Raphael Ham Jr. is a former American football outside linebacker who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League from 1971 to 1982. He is considered one of the greatest outside linebackers in the history of the NFL.

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.

Jack should be in the top10 he's one of the most all around linebacker

Jack Ham is better than #12!

Best outside backer of all time!

Please look at statistics beyond sacks! Ham did not rush the passer because he did not have to. Mean Joe and the Steel Curtain did that. Jack was as good a tackler as there ever was and the best linebacker and dropping into coverage. 32 interceptions during an era when the ball wasn't thrown 40+ times a game.

Hambis #1 in my opinion!

13 Derrick 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

Derrick Brooks should be higher than #13

14 Tedy 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!


Best leader

15 Chuck Bednarik

He almost killed a guy!

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

Listed much too low. Chuck Bednarik was an amazingly athletic player and was the greatest linebacker of his era. He also was one of the last players to play 60 minutes. As mentioned before, he also layed out the h.o.fer Frank Gifford who recently died of cte (probably because of that hit! ), which kindled and stroked the flames of the great New York - Philadelphia rivalry.

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

16 Harry Carson

Hugh goal line stands

Captain for life.

17 Rob Morris
18 Willie Lanier

Somewhat overshadowed by Butkus, I would put Lanier over every other MLB ever. Huge hitter, sure tackler, great in coverage, and a coach on the field. One of the best players I have ever seen.

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

19 -u gotta ne kidding me - Joe about 3rd after butais and lambert

19 Joe Schmidt

With all the great players in the game, including all the terrific linebackers, Schmidt was the leader of those great 1950's Lions' NFL Championship teams and the league's 1962 MVP.

20 A.J. Hawk

Who created this list? I'll fight them. Cheesedead is right; he may be okay but is nowhere near even the hall of 'very good.'

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

21 Demarcus Ware

He should rank much higher on this list than number 21.

Most consistent pass rush threat in the NFL, second fastest to 100 sacks

I love him

22 Takeo Spikes
23 Aldon Smith

19.5 sacks this season and counting!

24 Terrell Suggs Terrell Raymonn Suggs, nicknamed T-Sizzle or Sizzle, is an American football outside linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League.

Suggs makes qbs look like a methhead

25 Luke Kuechly Luke August Kuechly is an American football linebacker for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League.

Still early in his career. If he doesn’t become injury prone, he will be top 10.

Incredible linebacker! Show this man some respect he is the next generation of linebackers mark my words!

Uniform in hall of fame in his second year!

In time will be among the greats.

26 Bill Romanowski William Thomas Romanowski (born April 2, 1966) is a former American football linebacker. He played in the National Football League (NFL) for the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Denver Broncos, and Oakland Raiders.
27 Von Miller Vonnie B'Vsean Miller Jr. is an American football outside linebacker for the Denver Broncos of the National Football League.

He's better then clay Matthews he sacks clay Matthews can't ha

He is an absolute monster and he kills the quarterback.

Super bowl MVP... enough said

He's the bomb

28 Andre Tippett
29 Jerod Mayo
30 Desmond Bishop
31 Ted Hendricks

Some of the guys listed above Hendricks are a joke in comparison

4 Super Bowls and Hall of Famer since 1990

32 Bobby Wagner Bobby Joseph Wagner is an American football linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League.

I feel like he should be above clay Matthews especially having more tackles more ints and more sacks

Stout every single play. Never gets beat. In plays that are designed to run away from him. No weak areas.

Nothing can get past this guy

He is so good at both pass and run stoping

33 Sam Huff Robert Lee "Sam" Huff is a former professional American football linebacker in the National Football League for the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins.

The younger generation doesn't know that much about Mr. Huff, but he wrote the book and set the standard for middle linebackers. If you ask the greatest coaches that spanned the era and linebackers who are students of the game, they'll tell you he is DEFINITELY in the top 5!

Great middle linebacker from WV

34 London Fletcher

He is so underrated

35 Nick Buoniconti

Yes one of the best nick was great on the no name defense

36 Bobby Bell

Bobby Bell deserves to be ranked higher, especially with his speed.

Mr. Versatility

You gotta be kidding me. This guy defined playing the rush LB before LT

37 Greg Lloyd, Sr.

If Zach Thomas made this list then Greg should be on there

Greatest right outside linebacker of all time

He was a best for the steelers in the 90's

Greg loyd was a beast fr the steelers in the 90's

38 Chad Greenway Chad Greenway is an American football linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League.
39 NaVorro Bowman NaVorro Roderick Bowman is an American football linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL).

Most underrated player in the NFL by far. This guy is quicker than Patrick Willis and is currently better than him and people outside of niners fans don't know this.

He belongs in the top 10

He is best

40 Elvis Dumervil Elvis Kool Dumervil is an American football outside linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League.

15 sacks and counting as a linebacker? that is amazing - Puppy_Dawgie

16.5 sacks this season and counting. T-for first this season - Danmarino4

41 Paul Posluszny Paul Michael Posluszny is an American football middle linebacker for the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League.

My Idol, my cousin in law. I'll never stop believing in him.

42 Chris Spielman

He should be on top

He should on top

43 Dave Robinson

When I don't see his name included something's wrong

44 Kevin Greene Kevin Darwin Greene is a former American football linebacker who played in the National Football League for 15 years.

Kevin Greene should be way higher he was unstoppable he is in the hall of fame

Way way to low. 160 sacks - 3rd best all time

Kevin green was a great complement to Greg Lloyd together they were unstoppable...should have a superbowl if not for O'Donnell's dum ass interceptions...

45 Sam Mills

Was heart and soul in Carolina and has created the famous saying in Carolina keep pounding and is the only player who has a statue in Carolina's hall of honer

Sam Played on Some struggling NewOrleans Saints Teams early. But look at the old films and watch, then learn why he may be a easy top 10 Linebacker.

46 Landon Johnson
47 K.J. Wright
48 Dannell Ellerbe
49 Willie McGinest
50 Zach Thomas

The best line backer of all time better than Lawrence Taylor

Awesome all around player only 5'10 like London flecther

8Load More
PSearch List