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Best Defensive Players in NFL History

Updated on August 5, 2017

Dangerous Defenders

Ray Lewis plays for the Baltimore Ravens and is one of the best defensive players to ever grace a  football field. A warrior on the field.
Ray Lewis plays for the Baltimore Ravens and is one of the best defensive players to ever grace a football field. A warrior on the field. | Source
Rod Woodson is a legendary cornerback who helped the Pittsburgh Steelers in many ways. He was an extraordinary tackle and was known for his many interceptions.
Rod Woodson is a legendary cornerback who helped the Pittsburgh Steelers in many ways. He was an extraordinary tackle and was known for his many interceptions. | Source
Reggie Wayne was one of the top defensive players in NFL history. The Green Bay packers were fortunate to have him and his toughness on the field.
Reggie Wayne was one of the top defensive players in NFL history. The Green Bay packers were fortunate to have him and his toughness on the field. | Source
Bruce Smith helped the Buffalo Bills go to the Super Bowl four times. He was a very tough player who never took any shortcuts along the way to the top.
Bruce Smith helped the Buffalo Bills go to the Super Bowl four times. He was a very tough player who never took any shortcuts along the way to the top. | Source
Lawrence Taylor stroked fear in football players all over the league in his viscous prime. His forte was sacking the quarterback and he was one of the best in history.
Lawrence Taylor stroked fear in football players all over the league in his viscous prime. His forte was sacking the quarterback and he was one of the best in history. | Source

Legendary NFL Defenders

1. Ray Lewis: Mr. Lewis won Super Bowl 35 and was named MVP of The Super Bowl. He is a Ravens thirteen (13) time pro bowler. He has a record 16 seasons played as a linebacker. His stats are impeccable: 2,004 tackles, 31 interceptions, 40 sacks and still going strong in The NFL. Lewis played with an intensity rarely seen on the field and he was all over the field sacking, tackling, blocking and roughing up opposing teams in general.

2. Lawrence Taylor: L.T. is a two time Super Bowl Champ with The Giants. He was selected to The Pro Bowl 10 times. He has a NFL record of 142 sacks, 9 interceptions and 1,088 career tackles. L.T. became a household name because of his on field destruction and his off the field personality. He put fear in the hearts of Quarterbacks throughout the league during his prime. He was ruthless in his playing, and he always tried to hype the fans up during a game. He had a stellar college career as well.

3. Ronnie Lott: Lott is a four time Super Bowl Champion who was a ten time Pro Bowl Selection and he had 63 interceptions in his great career which was mostly played with the 49ers. Lott also had 730 interception return yards. Lott was great at disrupting plays by picking off passes, tipping passes and showing superb blocking skills. Lott

4. Reggie White: White won a Super Bowl and was a 13 time Pro Bowler. He recorded 198 sacks and 1,112 tackles in his career with the Eagles and the Packers. He also appeared in a separate Super Bowl and did well despite a losing effort. He was second to none at defensive end for 15 years. Although he was a tackling specialist his true talent was being a team leader and motivating those around him to play their best. I really enjoyed watching Reggie White play.

5. Rod Woodson: He won a Super Bowl and he was in 2 others as well. He has 71 career interceptions and 1,483 interception return yards. Here's a stat for you: Woodson has 4,894 kick-off return yards and 2,362 punt return yards resulting in 17 touchdowns. He has been selected to the Pro Bowl as a corner back, safety, and a kick returner. Rod Woodson is an all around player. He could have probably played any position had he chosen to.

6. Dick Butkus: Butkus played his entire Pro career with the Chicago Bears. He has 1,020 tackles and 22 interceptions along with 27 forced fumbles. He went to the Pro Bowl 8 times and one of his biggest features was his ability to strip the football. Butkus had a talent of getting the other team angry at his own team hyped up to play. Butkus was also a head football coach of the Chicago Bears.

7. Bruce Smith: Smith went to 4 Super Bowls and recorded 200 sacks in his career along with 1,225 tackles. Although he did not win any Super Bowls, he was one of the primary reasons, The Buffalo Bills went 4 times. Smith was a true force to be reckoned with on the defensive line. A team leader that helped motivate others without a doubt.

8. Joe Greene: He is a 4 time Super Bowl Champion who played his whole career with The Pittsburgh Steelers. He is a 10 time Pro Bowler, he played 181 games in The NFL and recorded 78 sacks. He was a first round draft pick out of North Texas and Mean Joe Greene turned out to be the real deal.

9. Charles Woodson: He won the National Championship and The Heisman Trophy in college to go along with his NFL Super Bowl. He has 881 tackles, 54 interceptions and 15 sacks, in his career. Note: His position could improve since he is still active. Woodson is fantastic at every aspect of the game and it shows with his on the field play.

10. Deion Sanders: Prime Time is a 2 time Super Bowl Champion and an 8 time Pro Bowler. Sanders played on offense and defense and was considered the fastest players in NFL history. He was a number 1 draft pick out of Florida State University. He always played with full effort and his speed and conditioning were legendary in the sport. He is my favorite player of all time. I would say that he is probably the most well known player on this list.

Charles Woodson

Safety Charles Woodson also played as a Cornerback and he also has been a punt returner.
Safety Charles Woodson also played as a Cornerback and he also has been a punt returner. | Source

Ray Lewis's Super Bowl Team

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Ray Lewis Was a Crusher

Ray Lewis won two Super Bowls with The Baltimore Ravens. He was a brutal defender that could attack whoever possessed the ball with devastating effect. Whether it was tackling, blocking or sacking the quarterback, Ray Lewis could do it all.

A true force of nature and a team motivator. Ray Lewis is a special football player who has a work ethic that can't be topped.

© 2012 Buster Johnson

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    • lesliebyars profile image
      Author

      Buster Johnson 3 years ago from Alabama

      I understand because Butkus was awesome during his time.

    • profile image

      STEELERS FANATIC 3 years ago

      Cool list. Butkus and White are higher on my list than Lott.

    • Miller2232 profile image

      Sinclair Miller III 4 years ago from Florida

      Great Hub you have written on here. You can't go wrong with these defensive players. I am recommending it for others to read.

    • Enigmatic Me profile image

      5 years ago from East Coast Canada

      NIce list! Not sure there isn't more that could be mentioned- Carl Banks was a great next to LT but would never get the accolades. Dave Duerson in Chicago is another, alongside Mike Singletary. And as much as these guys deserve to be mentioned, the flash pop of your list definitely out shined my 'could be mentioned list'.