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

Wednesday, February 29, 2012



Part of a series. Previous post is



50. Roy Winston '62-76 Vikings.
-And we're off.





49. Maxie Baughan '60-74 Eagles/Rams
-5 good years


48. Tom Jackson '73-86 Broncos
-5 good years




47. Wayne Walker '58-72 Lions
-Half dozen good years.



46. James Farrior '97-  Steelers/Jets
-Long, productive career, started nearly 200 games.



45. Hardy Nickerson '87-02 Bucs/Steelers
-Long productive career, started 200 games.  


44. Clay Matthews '78-96 Browns
-King of the long, productive careers.  248 starts. 



43. Jack Pardee '57-72 Rams
-half dozen good years.  




42. Dave Wilcox '64-74 49ers
-5 good years and productive every season.




41. Wilber Marshall '84-95 Redskins/Bears
-3 great years, including an all time season in '85 and then a lot of productivity.



40. Karl Mecklenburg '83-94 Broncos
-Six good seasons and his '89 is the current best on the board.




39. Greg Lloyd '88-98 Steelers
-Half dozen good to great years. 



38. Pat Swilling '86-98 Saints/Lions
-5 good to great years right in the heart of his career, his '91 is new best on the board.





37. Joe Fortunato '55-66 Bears
-Half dozen good to great years, productive his whole career. 



36. Andy Russell '63-76 Steelers
-5 good years and titles.  




35. Mike Curtis '65-78 Colts
-5 good years including a great '68.



34. Sam Mills '86-97 Saints
-half dozen good to great years. 




33. Andre Tippett '82-93 Patriots
-Half dozen good to great years. 




32. Cornelius Bennett '87-00 Bills
-5 good years and remained productive throughout his entire career.  Why is Tippett in the HOF but not Bennett?




31. Chris Hanburger '65-78 Redskins
-Productive all throughout his 20s and then 6 good years in his 30s. 



30. Bill Bergey '69-80 Eagles/Bengals
-7 good seasons and always productive. 




29. Randy Gradishar '74-83 Broncos
-7 good years, productive every season. 


28. Lance Briggs '03-11 Bears
-8 good years in a row; Lance Briggs is a Hall of Famer.  



27. Derrick Thomas '89-99 Chiefs
-8 good seasons, productive every year of his career.



26. Harry Carson '76-88 Giants
-7 good years and the title.  


The top 25 Linebackers of all Time



25. Dick Butkus 65-73 Bears
-8 good years, didn't have the top end of some of the guys who beat him out here, didn't have the longevity of some others. 





24. Joe Schmidt 53-65 Lions
-9 good seasons. 



23. Zach Thomas '96-08 Dolphins


-8 good to great seasons. 



22. Dave Robinson '63-74 Packers
-8 good years and titles - why isn't Robinson in the HOF?



21. Chuck Howley '58-73 Cowboys 
-Like a better Hanburger, productive in his 20s and then 7 good years with a higher top end.



20. Leroy Jordan '63-76 Cowboys
-8 good years, a title, productive all the way until 35.  Why isn't Jordan in the HOF?



19. Larry Grantham '60-72 Jets
-10 good seasons, productive every year and the title.  Lacked top end but was unbelievably consistent for a really long time. This section of guys all should be in the HOF, they never had spectacular seasons but were really solid forever and won titles, I wonder if Thomas, who didn't win, will also get overlooked. 




18. Rickey Jackson '81-95 Saints
-9 good years and always productive




17. Chuck Bednarik '49-62 Eagles
-7 good to great years.  




16. Junior Seau 90-09 Chargers
-10 good years, productive until he was 35. Like a better Grantham. 



15. Willie Lanier '67-77 Chiefs
-7 good to great years and the title. 



14. Isiah Robertson Rams/Bills '71-82
-8 good to great seasons, always productive, super underrated. 



13. Ray Nitschke '58-72 Packers
-7 good to great years and titles.  


12. Brian Urlacher 00- Bears
-8 good seasons and a really high top end.  Urlacher should go in on the first ballot. 



11. Sam Huff 56-69 Giants/Redskins

-7 good to great years, high top end and always productive. 



10. Bobby Bell Chiefs 63-74 Chiefs
-10 good, consistent years and the title.  



9. Nick Buoniconti  62-76 Dolphins/Patriots
-9 good years, had Bell's level of peak, and the titles.  



8. Mike Singletary 81-92 Bears
-9 good years just bulldozing through the middle of his career and the title. 





7. Bill George 52-66 Bears
-9 good seasons with a higher top end than Butkus and a few extra years of productivity Butkus didn't have.  George was better.  



6. Jack Lambert Steelers '74-84
-9 good to great years and the titles; the shorter career keeps him here.   




 5. Jack Ham 71-82 Steelers
-9 good to great years and the titles.  



4 Ted Hendricks 69-83 Raiders/Colts
-8 good seasons, productive long career, titles, an all time great '71. 



3. Lawrence Taylor 81-93 Giants
-10 good to great years and titles. The next guy was better.  



2 Derrick Brooks 95-08 Bucs
-11 good years, high top end and the title.  Tremendous player.  


1. Ray Lewis Ravens 96-
-11 good years, high top end, the title and more productivity.  He's the best ever.  

1 comment

DennisVee said...

Not too much to argue about with this list... as far as Vikings LBs go, I would rank Matt Blair above Winston, maybe Wally Hilgenberg and Jeff Siemon as well.... Oiler standout Robert Brazile may be worthy of a spot. Minus injuries, Tommy Nobis probably gets a listing, and Jessie Tuggle has the longevity factor going for him. I wouldn't object to Les Richter either....
In a few years, DeMarcus Ware, Terrell Suggs and Patrick Willis will probably be on this list, I'm sure...

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