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22 finest defensive gamers in NFL historical past

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NFL video games are sometimes received with coronary heart and grit much more than talent. Broad receivers and quarterbacks get all of the highlights on sports activities tv and social media, however defensive gamers make the stops that win championships. Even because the NFL has given extra leeway to offensive gamers, a few of the finest defenders of the twenty first century made a spot for themselves and likewise seem on this checklist of the 22 biggest defensive gamers in NFL historical past.

1. Lawrence Taylor – Linebacker

Lorenzo Taylor
Picture credit score: shgmom56 – flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0/Wiki Commons.

Lawrence Taylor took defensive play to an entire new stage with the New York Giants within the Nineteen Eighties. The final defender to win the NFL MVP, Taylor bodily dominated offensive strains and full quarterbacks. He is among the solely non-quarterbacks in soccer historical past who might be argued to be much more influential and devastating than his offensive counterparts.

2. Reggie White – Defensive finish

Sports, American Football, Super Bowl
Picture credit score: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock.

Arguing that Reggie White or Lawrence Taylor is the best defensive participant of all time is commonly a peak versus longevity argument, however those that desire the Secretary of Protection say he had it each methods. White displayed deadly defensive prowess for the Eagles and Packers over 14 seasons with the groups. His 16-sack 1998 marketing campaign at age 37 is among the sport’s true rarities.

3. D. Butkus – Linebacker

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Picture credit score: Wiki Commons, by photograph by Alan Mild, CC BY 2.0.

Butkus pioneered the kind of dominant linebacker play that stars like Luke Kuechly and Bobby Wagner aspired to within the 2010s. Butkus made certain that when he hit an opponent, they felt the aftereffects the following morning or two. The Bears have by no means had a participant of Butkus’ caliber once more.

4. Deion Sanders – Cornerback

Deion Sanders 2008
Picture credit score: Wiki Commons.

Coach Prime is getting a whole lot of headlines with the Colorado Buffaloes proper now, bringing type and substance to a poor school soccer program. In his taking part in days, he displayed unreal athleticism and ball expertise to close down your entire receiving corps and scare quarterbacks into by no means throwing in his path. Sanders is among the solely secondary defensive gamers to win the Defensive Participant of the Yr award.

5. Deacon Jones – Defensive finish

Christopher Knight and Deacon Jones in Brady Bunch ABC promotional photo
Picture credit score: Wiki Commons, ABC.

Casuals have forgotten Deacon Jones as time has handed, however soccer purists won’t ever let his reminiscence fade. Jones remodeled the aim of a defensive finish on the soccer subject, attacking the attacking participant with unmatched pace. Jones reclaimed the time period “sack,” which is now a very powerful statistical measure for a defensive lineman.

6. Bruce Smith – Defensive finish

1280px Bruce Smith at Naval Station Norfolk 2009 10 13 1 MC3 John Suits USN
Picture credit score: Wiki Commons, MC3 John Fits, USN.

Bruce Smith is the soccer model of Tim Duncan. Though he by no means led the league in sacks, Smith racked up 200 over the course of his profession to ascertain himself as the best quarterback tackler of all time. His tenacity laid the inspiration for the Buffalo Payments within the Nineties, however he by no means received a Tremendous Bowl.

7. Ray Lewis – Linebacker

Ray Lewis
Picture credit score: WikiCommons.

Ray Lewis is commonly seen because the final vestige of a misplaced period of physicality in soccer. He haunted the center of the sphere and hit gamers with vengeance in his eyes, main the league in mixed and solo tackles in three completely different seasons. Lewis’ off-field issues typically overshadow his on-field greatness.

8. Joe Greene – Defensive Deal with

Steelers, American football, NFL
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Joe Greene was the primary defensive participant touted as a celebrity for the plenty to understand. Greene took on his duties with the Pittsburgh Steelers with honor and coronary heart, main the staff to 4 Tremendous Bowls and turning them into the staff’s biggest defensive unit of all time, dubbed “The Metal Curtain.”

9. Rod Woodson – Cornerback and security

Rod Woodson January 2019
Picture credit score: Wiki Commons.

Rod Woodson delivered offensive gamers with impeccable ease. Historians who cite Woodson as the best cornerback of all time will level to his report variety of pick-sixes and fumble recoveries. Woodson’s versatility was demonstrated when he discovered success as a security late in his profession with the Baltimore Ravens.

10. Ed Reed – Safety

Ed Reed 2008 08 13
Picture credit score: Wiki Commons.

Ed Reed would be the smartest security in NFL historical past. Peyton Manning recounts the occasions Reed’s mind pressured him to take photographs he usually would not make. His mixture of expertise within the backfield helped Ray Lewis shine on the entrance of the road and propelled the Baltimore Ravens to playoff success.

11. Ronnie Lott – Safety

2560px Ronnie Lott together with a HUGE fan
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The San Francisco 49ers are finest identified for his or her offensive legends like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. Ronnie Lott displayed parallel prowess on the different finish of the ground, offering much-needed protection on a staff that wanted stops to again up its scoring drives. Lott received 4 Tremendous Bowls with the Niners.

12. Aaron Donald – Defensive Deal with

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Picture credit score: Wiki Commons.

Aaron Donald swallows complete NFL offenses in an period many followers contemplate mushy. Donald maintains a bodily and calculated defensive method, and the Rams have benefited from it for a decade. Donald has received three Defensive Participant of the Yr awards and one Tremendous Bowl.

13. JJ Watt – Defensive finish

1280px Colt McCoy JJ Watt 32075009198
Picture credit score: Wiki Commons.

JJ Watt’s prime was transient in Houston, however he might have the very best peak in NFL historical past. Watt had not less than 17 sacks in three of 4 seasons between 2012 and 2015. Accidents prevented him from persevering with to play at a excessive stage within the latter a part of his profession, however everybody knew what he was able to.

14. Jack Lambert – Linebacker

Jack Lambert footballer 2
Picture credit score: Wiki Commons.

Jack Lambert was as necessary to the Pittsburgh Steelers as Terry Bradshaw and Joe Greene throughout their 4 Tremendous Bowls within the Seventies. His mixture of expertise and management made the Steelers essentially the most formidable defensive staff in soccer historical past for a whole period. decade.

15. Emlen Tunnell – Safety

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Emlen Tunnell helped set up the defensive backfield positions as a few of the most necessary within the recreation. Tunnell intercepted passes at an alarming charge and made passing the ball almost not possible throughout an already run-heavy period.

16. Derrick Thomas – Linebacker and defensive finish

KC Chiefs Football
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Derrick Thomas is among the most underrated vivid spots on the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs, a staff that did not expertise a lot success earlier than Patrick Mahomes was drafted. Thomas had seven seasons with not less than 10 sacks. His profession and life had been tragically reduce quick as a result of aftermath of a automobile accident he was concerned in in 2000.

17. Charles Woodson – Cornerback and security

Charles Woodson San Francisco vs Green Bay 2012
Picture credit score: Wiki Commons.

Charles Woodson was essentially the most versatile cornerback and security of the 2000s. He knew earlier than anybody else the place the ball was going to be, and his management had a dramatic influence on each the Packers and the Raiders.

18. Mike Singletary – Linebacker

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Picture credit score: Wiki Commons.

Mike Singletary was the scariest a part of the 1985 Chicago Bears protection that led the franchise to its solely Tremendous Bowl title. Singletary’s prominence in the course of the sphere was instrumental in clogging up the opposing staff’s offense and made the Bears completely unbeatable.

19. Bob Lilly – Defensive Deal with

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Bob Lilly established himself as Mr. Cowboy after main Dallas’ protection all through the Sixties. Lilly launched fashionable defensive strategies to his recreation that others wouldn’t undertake for a few a long time. He received a Tremendous Bowl in 1972.

20. Michael Strahan – Defensive Finish

Strahan 2021 FOX
Picture credit score: Wiki Commons.

Earlier than he grew to become the media’s most notable retired soccer participant, Michael Strahan sacked the quarterback in addition to anybody in NFL historical past. Strahan’s complete sack report from 2001 nonetheless stands at present, though TJ Watt tied Strahan’s 22.5 sacks.

21. Paul Krause – Safety

vikings
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Paul Krause was the primary NFL security to point out the world how very important turnovers within the backfield might be for frontcourt gamers. When Krause intercepted passes for the Vikings, he helped the Purple Individuals Eaters defensive lineman eat up the inside.

22. Bobby Wagner – Linebacker

bobby wagner 2015
Picture credit score: Wiki Commons.

Bobby Wagner was the very best participant on the Legion of Increase protection that saved Seattle atop the NFL for a lot of the mid-2010s. Wagner constantly leads the NFL in tackles and nonetheless fills the center of the NFL’s protection. Seahawks proper now.

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