The 50 Greatest Defensive Linemen in NFL History (Revised and Updated, 2012 edition)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Part of a series.  Previous post is here.

50. Fred Dryer Rams '69-81
-Hey, it's Hunter.  And we're off.  

49. Ed Jones '74-89 Cowboys
-Long, productive career.  

48. Leroy Selmon '76-84 Bucs
-4 good years, always a productive player. 

47. Bryant Young 49ers '94-07
-Long productive career with an all time great 1996 and a title.  

46. Ray Childress '85-96 Oilers
-5 good seasons.  

45. Lyle Alzado '71-85 Broncos/Raiders/Browns
-Long, productive career and a title. 

44. Rosey Grier Giants/Rams '55-66
-5 good years, mostly productive in his 20s.

43. Claude Humphrey '68-81 Falcons
-5 good years and a couple of them big.  

42. Kevin Williams 03- Vikings
-6 good seasons.

41. Bob Baumhower '77-86 Dolphins
5 good years and the third best season currently on the board.  

40. Richard Seymour '01- Patriots/Raiders 
-6 good seasons, the Raider resurgence over the past couple years gets him to the list. 

39. Neil Smith Chiefs '88-00 
-6 good seasons, his '95 is the second best season on the board so far.

38. Steve McMichael Bears '80-94
-5 strong years, really solid back to back in the mid 80s.  

37. Art Donovan '50-61 Colts 
-Half dozen good seasons.  

36. Bill Willis '46-53 Browns
-Short but dominant career.  

35. Len Ford '48-58 Browns
-5 big years right in the middle of his career. 

34. Jerry Mays '61-70 Chiefs
-8 good seasons, just good throughout his whole career.  

33. Richard Dent '83-97 Bears
-His 17 sack '85 is the new best season on the board.  

32. John Randle '90-03 Vikings
-7 good seasons.  

31. Ron Mcdole '61-78 Bills/Redskins
-8 good seasons, if Randle's a HOF'er so is McDole.

30. Cortez Kennedy '90-00 Seahawks
-Seven strong years, a little top end notch above Randle/McDole

29. Deacon Jones '61-74 Rams
-6 good seasons in the heart of his career.

28. Howie Long '81-93 Raiders
-Half dozen good seasons and the title.

27. LC Greenwood '69-81 Steelers
-6 good seasons and the titles.  

26. Charles Haley '86-99 49ers/Cowboys
-5 good years, a ton of titles, and 1990, the new second best season on the board.

The top 25 Defensive Linemen Ever.

25. Julius Peppers '02-  Panthers
-7 good years and a high top end; Peppers is a Hall of Famer. 

24. Jack Youngblood '71-84 Rams
-7 good years, high top end.  

23. Jason Taylor '97-11 Dolphins
-7 powerful years and a really high top end, his '00 is behind only Dent so far.  

22. Dan Hampton '79-90 Bears

-7 good years, high top end, title.  He and Taylor are comparable, but Hampton had the title.  

21. Alex Karras '58-70 Lions
-8 good consistent seasons.

20. Buck Buchanan '63-75 Chiefs

-8 good seasons, I like him behind Doleman.  

19. Warren Sapp '95-07 Bucs
-7 good years, high top end, 2002 is the second best year on the board, and the title.  

18. Jim Marshall '60-79 Vikings
-6 good years and then a ton, just a ton of additional productivity. Absolutely should be in the HOF.

17. Henry Jordan '57-69 Packers
-Half dozen good years, high top end, titles. 

16. Chris Doleman '85-99 Vikings
-9 good years and a high top end, I'm good with this order for Taylor/Hampton/Doleman.

15. Willie Davis '58-69 Packers
-7 good years, titles, high top end. 

14. Bob Lilly Cowboys '61-74
-10 good years, title.

13. Ernie Stautner '50-63 Steelers
-10 good seasons and a high top end.  

12. Doug Atkins Bears '53-69
-9 good years, high top end.  Long, productive career. 

11. Leo Nomellini '50-63 49ers
-9 good years, high top end - the best season for a defensive lineman on the board, Nomellini's '51.

The 10 Best Defensive Linemen Ever.

10. Michael Strahan '93-07 Giants
-9 good years, high top end, title. 

9. Randy White '75-88 Cowboys
-9 good years, high top end, title.  

8. Gino Marchetti '52-66 Colts
-9 good years, high top end, titles. 

7. Carl Eller '64-79 Vikings
-10 good years, unbelievably dominant from 69-71, his '69 is best season on board.  

6. Andy Robustelli Giants/Rams '51-64
-11 good years, high top end, Eller/Robustelli are a step above the prior linemen. 

5. Merlin Olsen Rams '62-76
-13 good seasons, 200+ games and almost all of them productive; didn't quite have the top end of the other guys in this section.

4. Alan Page Vikings/Bears '67-81
-He's Eller but better, 10 good years, crazy dominant at his peak, his '69 is best season on the board.

3. Bruce Smith Bills '85-03
-13 good years, long, productive career, and had a little higher top end than Olsen.

2. Joe Greene Steelers '69-81
-11 good years, all the titles, high top end, productive from day one right up until he turned 35.  

1. Reggie White '85-00 Eagles/Packers
-13 good to dominant years and the title.  He's Bruce Smith but better.  I don't think there's much question about his being the best ever.  


Anonymous said...

... Deacon Jones at 29th? He is widely regarded as one of the best ever and I have yet to find a list that has him lower than 5th. 8 pro bowls but you say he only had 6 good seasons? How do you determine a good season? This doesn't even make sense.

DennisVee said...

I have to agree with the other comment... Deacon should probably be a little higher. Other than that, I think Elvin Bethea and Roger Brown maybe deserved to be included. Both were more dominant than Fred Dryer, in my opinion. Mark Gastineau was a royal tool, but he was as dominant as a DE could be during the early to mid '80s, and I would have no problem seeing him on such a list. Teammate Joe Klecko may be worthy as well -- anyone who can make the Pro Bowl at three different positions has to be ranked among the best...
I can think of a few who were probably right on the bubble -- Neil Smith, Leslie O'Neal, etc... Dryer and Youngblood's teammate Larry Brooks was pretty solid in his own right, but probably just on the other side of 'top 50'...

DennisVee said...

Neil Smith is on there... my mistake!!!

Anonymous said...

Pretty good, it is to a degree subjective but mainly I'd have Page at two but only because of his size. If he was as big as Reggie he'd be number one, and the Deacon belongs in the top ten. Top five actually. An unstoppable defensive lineman that almost every game was the fastest man in the game including backs and receivers.

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