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

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

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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.  


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...

Cris Mic said...

Yeah!! There are many linebackers in NFL but for me only a few qualify to be termed as best linebackers in nfl like Lawrence Taylor, Ray Lewis, Jack Ham. They are best players and the way they play really fascinates me.

Jim North said...

Two players that should be on the list :Jessie Tuggle and Tommy Nobis.#1 member of the 98 NFC champs,NFL career tackles leader,5 time pro bowler,etc.#2 over 290 tackles his rookie season,5 time pro bowler,named to the NFL all 60s team at LB,etc.

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