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Published: June 30, 2017 at 10:01 a.m.
Updated: July 3, 2017 at 09:25 a.m.

Gil Brandt's greatest NFL linebackers of all time

NFL.com senior analyst and personnel guru Gil Brandt ranks the greatest linebackers in NFL history. Take a look at how all 45 of his selections stack up.

45 Photos Total

  • New Orleans Saints, 1986-1994; Carolina Panthers, 1995-1997<br>
&raquo; Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro once<br>
&raquo; Recorded 1,142 career tackles<br> 45

    Allen Kee/Associated Press

    45. Sam Mills

    New Orleans Saints, 1986-1994; Carolina Panthers, 1995-1997
    » Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro once
    » Recorded 1,142 career tackles

  • Washington Redskins, 1965-1978<br>
&raquo; Voted to nine Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro four times<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 44

    David Durochik/Associated Press

    44. Chris Hanburger

    Washington Redskins, 1965-1978
    » Voted to nine Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro four times
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Detroit Lions, 1988-1995; Buffalo Bills, 1996-1997<br>
&raquo; Voted to four Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro once<br>
&raquo; Recorded 1,181 career tackles<br> 43

    David Durochik/Associated Press

    43. Chris Spielman

    Detroit Lions, 1988-1995; Buffalo Bills, 1996-1997
    » Voted to four Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro once
    » Recorded 1,181 career tackles

  • New Orleans Saints, 1986-1992; Detroit Lions, 1993-1994; Oakland Raiders, 1995-1998<br>
&raquo; Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro twice<br>
&raquo; Recorded 107.5 career sacks<br> 42

    Tom DiPace/Associated Press

    42. Pat Swilling

    New Orleans Saints, 1986-1992; Detroit Lions, 1993-1994; Oakland Raiders, 1995-1998
    » Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro twice
    » Recorded 107.5 career sacks

  • New York Giants, 1984-1992; Washington Redskins, 1993; Cleveland Browns, 1994-1995<br>
&raquo; Two-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to one Pro Bowl, First Team All-Pro once<br>
&raquo; Recorded 39.5 career sacks and 826 career tackles<br> 41

    Kevin Reece/Associated Press

    41. Carl Banks

    New York Giants, 1984-1992; Washington Redskins, 1993; Cleveland Browns, 1994-1995
    » Two-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to one Pro Bowl, First Team All-Pro once
    » Recorded 39.5 career sacks and 826 career tackles

  • Philadelphia Eagles, 1949-1962<br>
&raquo; Two-time NFL champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to eight Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro five times<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 40

    NFL Photos

    40. Chuck Bednarik

    Philadelphia Eagles, 1949-1962
    » Two-time NFL champion
    » Voted to eight Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro five times
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Miami Dolphins, 1996-2007; Dallas Cowboys, 2008<br>
&raquo; Voted to seven Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro five times<br>
&raquo; Recorded 1,100 career tackles<br> 39

    David Stluka/Associated Press

    39. Zach Thomas

    Miami Dolphins, 1996-2007; Dallas Cowboys, 2008
    » Voted to seven Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro five times
    » Recorded 1,100 career tackles

  • Los Angeles Rams, 1954-1962<br>
&raquo; Voted to eight Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro once<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 38

    NFL Photos

    38. Les Richter

    Los Angeles Rams, 1954-1962
    » Voted to eight Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro once
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Dallas Cowboys, 2005-2013; Denver Broncos, 2014-2016<br>
&raquo; One-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to nine Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro four times<br>
&raquo; Recorded 138.5 career sacks, which ranks No. 8 on the all-time list<br> 37

    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    37. DeMarcus Ware

    Dallas Cowboys, 2005-2013; Denver Broncos, 2014-2016
    » One-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to nine Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro four times
    » Recorded 138.5 career sacks, which ranks No. 8 on the all-time list

  • Boston Patriots, 1962-1968; Miami Dolphins, 1969-1976<br>
&raquo; Two-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to eight Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro five times<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 36

    Associated Press

    36. Nick Buoniconti

    Boston Patriots, 1962-1968; Miami Dolphins, 1969-1976
    » Two-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to eight Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro five times
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Cincinnati Bengals, 1969-1973; Philadelphia Eagles, 1974-1980<br>
&raquo; Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro twice<br> 35

    Cliff Welch/Associated Press

    35. Bill Bergey

    Cincinnati Bengals, 1969-1973; Philadelphia Eagles, 1974-1980
    » Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro twice

  • Denver Broncos, 1974-1983<br>
&raquo; Voted to seven Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro twice<br> 34

    NFL Photos

    34. Randy Gradishar

    Denver Broncos, 1974-1983
    » Voted to seven Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro twice

  • Chicago Bears, 1955-1966<br>
&raquo; One-time NFL champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro three times<br> 33

    National Football League

    33. Joe Fortunato

    Chicago Bears, 1955-1966
    » One-time NFL champion
    » Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro three times

  • St. Louis Rams, 1998-2001; Buffalo Bills, 2002-2006; Washington Redskins, 2007-2013<br>
&raquo; One-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to four Pro Bowls<br>
&raquo; Recorded 1,380 career tackles<br> 32

    Paul Spinelli/Associated Press

    32. London Fletcher

    St. Louis Rams, 1998-2001; Buffalo Bills, 2002-2006; Washington Redskins, 2007-2013
    » One-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to four Pro Bowls
    » Recorded 1,380 career tackles

  • Dallas Cowboys, 1963-1976<br>
&raquo; One-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro once<br> 31

    NFL Photos

    31. Lee Roy Jordan

    Dallas Cowboys, 1963-1976
    » One-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro once

  • San Francisco 49ers, 2007-2014<br>
&raquo; Voted to seven Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro five times<br>
&raquo; Recorded 732 tackles in eight career NFL seasons<br> 30

    Peter Read Miller/Associated Press

    30. Patrick Willis

    San Francisco 49ers, 2007-2014
    » Voted to seven Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro five times
    » Recorded 732 tackles in eight career NFL seasons

  • New England Patriots, 1982-1993<br>
&raquo; Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro twice<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 29

    National Football League

    29. Andre Tippett

    New England Patriots, 1982-1993
    » Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro twice
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Kansas City Chiefs, 1967-1977<br>
&raquo; One-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to eight Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro three times<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 28

    Tony Tomsic/Associated Press

    28. Willie Lanier

    Kansas City Chiefs, 1967-1977
    » One-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to eight Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro three times
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Chicago Bears, 2000-2012<br>
&raquo; Voted to eight Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro four times<br>
&raquo; Recorded 41.5 career sacks and 1,040 career tackles<br> 27

    Tom DiPace/Associated Press

    27. Brian Urlacher

    Chicago Bears, 2000-2012
    » Voted to eight Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro four times
    » Recorded 41.5 career sacks and 1,040 career tackles

  • San Francisco 49ers, 1964-1974<br>
&raquo; Voted to seven Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro twice<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 26

    NFL Photos

    26. Dave Wilcox

    San Francisco 49ers, 1964-1974
    » Voted to seven Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro twice
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Pittsburgh Steelers, 2002-2012, 2014-present; Cincinnati Bengals 2013<br>
&raquo; Two-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro twice<br>
&raquo; Has recorded 81.5 career sacks<br> 25

    Greg Trott/Associated Press

    25. James Harrison

    Pittsburgh Steelers, 2002-2012, 2014-present; Cincinnati Bengals 2013
    » Two-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro twice
    » Has recorded 81.5 career sacks

  • Chicago Bears, 1948-1955<br>
&raquo; Voted to four Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro four times<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 24

    Vernon Biever/Associated Press

    24. George Connor

    Chicago Bears, 1948-1955
    » Voted to four Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro four times
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Buffalo Bills, 1987-1995; Atlanta Falcons, 1996-1998; Indianapolis Colts, 1999-2000<br>
&raquo; Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro once<br>
&raquo; Recorded 71.5 career sacks<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 23

    David Durochik/Associated Press

    23. Cornelius Bennett

    Buffalo Bills, 1987-1995; Atlanta Falcons, 1996-1998; Indianapolis Colts, 1999-2000
    » Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro once
    » Recorded 71.5 career sacks
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Pittsburgh Steelers, 1974-1984<br>
&raquo; Four-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to nine Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro six times<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 22

    National Football League

    22. Jack Lambert

    Pittsburgh Steelers, 1974-1984
    » Four-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to nine Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro six times
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Atlanta Falcons, 1966-1976<br>
&raquo; Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro one time<br> 21

    NFL Photos

    21. Tommy Nobis

    Atlanta Falcons, 1966-1976
    » Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro one time

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1981-1985; Miami Dolphins, 1985-1991<br>
&raquo; Voted to two Pro Bowls<br> 20

    Al Messerschmidt Archive/Associated Press

    20. Hugh Green

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1981-1985; Miami Dolphins, 1985-1991
    » Voted to two Pro Bowls

  • New York Giants, 1976-1988<br>
&raquo; One-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to nine Pro Bowls<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 19

    NFL Photos

    19. Harry Carson

    New York Giants, 1976-1988
    » One-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to nine Pro Bowls
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • New York Giants, 1956-1963; Washington Redskins 1964-1969<br>
&raquo; One-time NFL champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro twice<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 18

    National Football League

    18. Sam Huff

    New York Giants, 1956-1963; Washington Redskins 1964-1969
    » One-time NFL champion
    » Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro twice
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • New Orleans Saints, 1981-1993; San Francisco 49ers 1994-1995<br>
&raquo; One-time NFL champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to six Pro Bowls<br>
&raquo; Recorded 128 career sacks, which ranks No. 15 on the all-time list<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 17

    Al Golub/Associated Press

    17. Rickey Jackson

    New Orleans Saints, 1981-1993; San Francisco 49ers 1994-1995
    » One-time NFL champion
    » Voted to six Pro Bowls
    » Recorded 128 career sacks, which ranks No. 15 on the all-time list
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Chicago Bears, 1981-1992<br>
&raquo; One-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to 10 Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro seven times<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 16

    David Durochik/Associated Press

    16. Mike Singletary

    Chicago Bears, 1981-1992
    » One-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to 10 Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro seven times
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Green Bay Packers, 1963-1972; Washington Redskins 1973-1974<br>
&raquo; Three-time NFL champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to three Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro once<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 15

    Vernon Biever/Associated Press

    15. Dave Robinson

    Green Bay Packers, 1963-1972; Washington Redskins 1973-1974
    » Three-time NFL champion
    » Voted to three Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro once
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Detroit Lions, 1953-1965<br>
&raquo; Two-time NFL champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to 10 Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro eight times<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 14

    National Football League

    14. Joe Schmidt

    Detroit Lions, 1953-1965
    » Two-time NFL champion
    » Voted to 10 Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro eight times
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • San Diego Chargers, 1990-2002; Miami Dolphins, 2003-2005; New England Patriots, 2006-2009<br>
&raquo; Voted to 12 Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro six times<br>
&raquo; Recorded 56.5 career sacks and 1,522 career tackles<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 13

    David Durochik/Associated Press

    13. Junior Seau

    San Diego Chargers, 1990-2002; Miami Dolphins, 2003-2005; New England Patriots, 2006-2009
    » Voted to 12 Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro six times
    » Recorded 56.5 career sacks and 1,522 career tackles
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Pittsburgh Steelers, 1971-1982<br>
&raquo; Four-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to eight Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro six times<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 12

    Al Messerschmidt Archive/Associated Press

    12. Jack Ham

    Pittsburgh Steelers, 1971-1982
    » Four-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to eight Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro six times
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Chicago Bears, 1958-1959; Dallas Cowboys, 1961-1973<br>
&raquo; One-time NFL champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to six Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro five times<br> 11

    Ferd Kaufman/Associated Press

    11. Chuck Howley

    Chicago Bears, 1958-1959; Dallas Cowboys, 1961-1973
    » One-time NFL champion
    » Voted to six Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro five times

  • Los Angeles Rams, 1985-1992; Pittsburgh Steelers, 1993-1995; Carolina Panthers, 1996, 1998-1999; San Francisco 49ers, 1997<br>
&raquo; Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro twice<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame<br>
&raquo; Recorded 160 career sacks, which ranks No. 3 on the all-time list<br> 10

    David Durochik/Associated Press

    10. Kevin Greene

    Los Angeles Rams, 1985-1992; Pittsburgh Steelers, 1993-1995; Carolina Panthers, 1996, 1998-1999; San Francisco 49ers, 1997
    » Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro twice
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
    » Recorded 160 career sacks, which ranks No. 3 on the all-time list

  • Chicago Bears, 1952-1966; Los Angeles Rams 1966<br>
&raquo; One-time NFL champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to eight Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro eight times<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 9

    NFL Photos

    9. Bill George

    Chicago Bears, 1952-1966; Los Angeles Rams 1966
    » One-time NFL champion
    » Voted to eight Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro eight times
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Baltimore Ravens, 1996-2012<br>
&raquo; Two-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to 13 Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro seven times<br>
&raquo; Recorded 41.5 sacks and 1562 career tackles<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 8

    Paul Jasienski/Associated Press

    8. Ray Lewis

    Baltimore Ravens, 1996-2012
    » Two-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to 13 Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro seven times
    » Recorded 41.5 sacks and 1562 career tackles
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Kansas City Chiefs, 1963-1974<br>
&raquo; One-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to nine Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro six times<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 7

    National Football League

    7. Bobby Bell

    Kansas City Chiefs, 1963-1974
    » One-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to nine Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro six times
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1995-2008<br>
&raquo; One-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to 11 Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro five times<br>
&raquo; Recorded 1,297 career tackles<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 6

    Paul Spinelli/Associated Press

    6. Derrick Brooks

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1995-2008
    » One-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to 11 Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro five times
    » Recorded 1,297 career tackles
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Baltimore Colts, 1969-1973; Green Bay Packers, 1974; Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, 1975-1983<br>
&raquo; Four-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to eight Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro four times<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 5

    Peter Read Miller/Associated Press

    5. Ted Hendricks

    Baltimore Colts, 1969-1973; Green Bay Packers, 1974; Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, 1975-1983
    » Four-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to eight Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro four times
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Green Bay Packers, 1958-1972<br>
&raquo; Two-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to one Pro Bowl, First Team All-Pro twice<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 4

    Tony Tomsic/Associated Press

    4. Ray Nitschke

    Green Bay Packers, 1958-1972
    » Two-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to one Pro Bowl, First Team All-Pro twice
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Chicago Bears, 1965-1973<br>
&raquo; Voted to eight Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro five times<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 3

    National Football League

    3. Dick Butkus

    Chicago Bears, 1965-1973
    » Voted to eight Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro five times
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Kansas City Chiefs, 1989-1999<br>
&raquo; Voted to nine Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro twice<br>
&raquo; Recorded 126.5 career sacks, which ranks No. 16 on the all-time list<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2

    Kevin Reece/Associated Press

    2. Derrick Thomas

    Kansas City Chiefs, 1989-1999
    » Voted to nine Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro twice
    » Recorded 126.5 career sacks, which ranks No. 16 on the all-time list
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • New York Giants, 1981-1993<br>
&raquo; Two-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to 10 Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro eight times<br>
&raquo; Recorded 132.5 career sacks, which ranks No. 13 on the all-time list<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 1

    David Durochik/Associated Press

    1. Lawrence Taylor

    New York Giants, 1981-1993
    » Two-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to 10 Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro eight times
    » Recorded 132.5 career sacks, which ranks No. 13 on the all-time list
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

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