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Best all-time Defensive players by position in my view

Big Blue '56 : 7/12/2013 8:32 am
You can separate the all-timers by 3-4 or 4-3 if you care to, but for the purposes of discussion, I've listed the 4 best DLs, 4 best LBs and NT I've ever seen..Would be interested in your take(s):

DT: Alan Page and Bob Lilly..Cases can be made for Joe Greene and Merlin Olsen, Randy White

DE: Deacon Jones and Reggie White..These were clear-cut to me

NT: This is a bitch to nail, but I've narrowed it down to Wilfork(highly versatile) and the vastly underrated(for all-time purposes, that is) Casey Hampton. To me he's one of the best 2-gap NTs I've ever seen..I'm gonna go with Hampton as he's been the rock of the Steelers DL for a decade or so..Much room for other choices, but he's my guy right now..

LBs: Two are a slam dunk, LT and Butkus...The other two, not so much, but since I have to complete the LBer list, my choices are Derrick Thomas and Bobby Bell

CBs: This might have been the toughest for me as the list is as big as a long cat, imo..Deion has to be a clear cut choice, imv. The other guy? I chose Willie Brown of the Raiders, but a solid case can be made for Rod Woodson, Lem Barney, Dick Night Train Lane, perhaps Darrell Green, to name the few I was considering..

S: Also not that easy, but I have to Go with Ronnie Lott for certain..I chose Larry Wilson of the Cards as my other S..Again, strong cases can be made for our Emlen Tunnell as well As Kenny Houston, Ed Reed, Polamalu

So, in sum:

DTs: Page and Lilly

DEs: Reggie White and Deacon Jones

NT: Casey Hampton

LBs: LT, Derrick Thomas, Butkus, Bobby Bell

CBs: Deion and Willie Brown

S: Lott and Larry Wilson

I didn't necessarily differentiate between strong and free safety, so be my guest

Looking forward to your areas of agreement/disagreement
I might go Green over Brown...  
okiegiant : 7/12/2013 9:05 am : link
and as much as I disliked the Dallas teams back in the 70's and 80's(and 90's, 2000's and so on!)I think White was a monster.

Just throwing this name out there, but remember Lester Hayes? He shouldn't be on this list(he just popped in to head while I was thinking about this)but he was great for a couple of seasons.
That Oakland Secondary  
Big Blue '56 : 7/12/2013 9:21 am : link
could make a strong case for the best ever, collectively, though The Packers Secondary in the mid to late 60s could certainly put in a claim as well
I can only go with what I've seen...honorable mention in parens.  
chrispisano66 : 7/12/2013 9:27 am : link
DE- Strahan, Reggie White (Jason Taylor)

DT- Sapp, John Randle (La'roi Glover)

NT- Wilfork (Hampton)

LB- LT, D. Thomas, Lewis, Z. Thomas (D. Brooks, Urlacher)

CB- Deion, Champ Bailey (Revis)

S- Reed, Lott (Sharper)
Chrisp,  
Big Blue '56 : 7/12/2013 9:56 am : link
good list. Not sure about Zach, though I thought he was quite solid
Very nice list.  
giantsfour : 7/12/2013 10:07 am : link
One CB that I believe does not get the recognition he deserves and who I would have on my list is Jimmy Johnson of the 49ers. His statistics do not stand out because teams simply did not throw to his side of the field.
Mike Haynes  
Buck Dharma : 7/12/2013 10:11 am : link
is a CB that belongs in the conversation, one of the all time greats.
Can't forget Ray Nitschke & Jack Lambert at LB  
TheMick7 : 7/12/2013 10:14 am : link
.
It is difficult to make a big stink about any  
Some Fan : 7/12/2013 10:16 am : link
of the choices anyone has mentioned but at safety, Ed Reed has to be one of the starters on the all-time defensive team.
gotta think about the  
bc4life : 7/12/2013 10:22 am : link
Alan Page selection
RE: LBs  
bc4life : 7/12/2013 10:24 am : link
I'd go LT, Butkus, Singletary and Ray Lewis
Dharma and some fan,  
Big Blue '56 : 7/12/2013 10:25 am : link
that's what makes an all-time Secondary really tough to call
Revis youth hurts him because  
bc4life : 7/12/2013 10:26 am : link
his career is not over, but has to be considered and I think Deion is a lock.
If I had to pick two safeties  
bc4life : 7/12/2013 10:28 am : link
I'd take Lott and Jack Tatum
Mike Haynes and Willie Wood  
nomad1986 : 7/12/2013 10:28 am : link
both in the conversation Haynes even more than Wood in the secondary. Mel Blount too.

Willie Lanier, Jack Ham and Ted Hendricks as LB's.

I think the BB56 list is a very strong list.

Buck Buchanan at DT is a starter for me.

Nose tackle is a tough one since the 3-4 isn't that old and the position lends itself to being caught in the wash and just tying up OL's. Gilbert Brown might have been the best I've seen for the short time he was healthy.
Buck  
bc4life : 7/12/2013 10:28 am : link
Agree about Haynes
My list  
sexymoves : 7/12/2013 10:30 am : link
safety: R.Lott / Ed Reed
Corner: Night Train Lane / Mel Blunt
OLB: LT / Jack Ham
MLB: Butkus
DE: Decon Jones / Reggie White
DT: Bob Lilly / Mean Joe Green
I can't do all-time  
Osi Osi Osi OyOyOy : 7/12/2013 10:34 am : link
just an impossible exercise for me. I wasn't old enough to see those guys play and unlike other sports, football stats don't even begin to tell you how great a player was. So it's hard for me to say for certain that Butkus was better than Ham or Night Train Lane was better than Haynes.

So I'm just going to name my Defensive Team since 2000, not in terms of overall resume but just in terms of peak play. Strahan's post-2000 career probably doesn't trump Jason Taylor or Jared Allen's but Strahan's peak performances do trump theirs imo.

DE: Strahan -- Peppers
DT: Sapp -- Ngata (Big Pat Williams and Wilfork if that's your style of DT)
ILB: Lewis -- Willis (Willis > Urlacher imo)
OLB: Brooks -- Ware (I want to say Von Miller so bad)
CB: Revis -- Bailey (Bailey and Woodson had similar peaks but Bailey was more consistent)
S: Polamalu -- Reed (Polamalu > Reed imo, I know that's a minority opinion)

Darrell Green is enormously overrated  
Greg from LI : 7/12/2013 10:38 am : link
Rod Woodson may not have been as fast but he was simply a better player
and another choice for NT  
Greg from LI : 7/12/2013 10:39 am : link
Michael Carter
Gotta do two lists  
NINEster : 7/12/2013 10:44 am : link
not only to make it more fun but because of the differences in how offenses are played now and then.

For instance I'd say the modern superstar corners are more athletically gifted than the old school guys, but would probably have a harder time covering stronger receivers who could push off (it goes both ways), plus the tackling skills that were valued back then as well. And vice versa, I don't think a Night Train Lane could cover a good portion of the league's best receivers with modern rules helping them.

Surprised no Singletary on the list. Lousy coach, but decent MLB no? :)

Greg,  
Big Blue '56 : 7/12/2013 10:46 am : link
good call on Carter
It's been a long time but  
Chris in San Diego : 7/12/2013 11:39 am : link
I'm pretty sure the Randy White came in and replaced Bob Lilly in Dallas...that's alot of years of the best dt.

Also, I'm pretty sure they used our draft pick for Randy White.

When I was growing up it was rough being a Gman fan...makes the last 25 years even sweeter!
Yup,  
Big Blue '56 : 7/12/2013 11:46 am : link
The Craig Morton trade(re Randy White)
I would not make Deion a lock....  
WideRight : 7/12/2013 11:52 am : link
I would take Darrell Green and/or Champ Bailey over him in the modern era of CBs. Deion was a terrible tackler, and really should be left off the list because of it.

The CBs od the earlier less constrianed era have to include Night Train, Lester Hayes....
Kenny Easley...  
Russ in Queens, NYC : 7/12/2013 11:56 am : link
...might also be considered at safety.
For Nose Tackle  
David in LA : 7/12/2013 11:57 am : link
Ted Washington, and Gilbert Brown could be on my team any day. Those guys were impossible to move.
Revis over Green  
KWALL : 7/12/2013 11:59 am : link
I think Revis needs to be in there. He's right there with Deon.

If we're talking peak performance and not long term, I put Bob Sanders on any best of list. He was one of the best defensive players I ever saw. When healthy, I take Sanders over any S including Lott.

Only been 2 years, but Von Miller has been as good as any LB I can remember. Better than the best from Derrick Thomas. Couple more years and he'll be there with LT.
Revis has a knee  
WideRight : 7/12/2013 12:03 pm : link
he won't put up the career that Green did
Russ, iirc, he didn't play all that long,  
Big Blue '56 : 7/12/2013 12:12 pm : link
but yes, he was a great one for a city that few paid attention to(NFL-wise) beyond Zorn and Largent
BB '56  
Russ in Queens, NYC : 7/12/2013 12:23 pm : link
I think you're right.

Another safety who might have made this list, had he lived, was Don Rogers of the Cleveland Browns. I know he only played a couple of seasons, but I think he had greatness written all over him.

Frigging cocaine...
Of course, Belichick calling Reed the best S  
Big Blue '56 : 7/12/2013 12:40 pm : link
he's ever seen, has to carry tons of weight imo
Darrell Green was amazing  
Optimus-NY : 7/12/2013 1:01 pm : link
fast and a weapon on punt returns. Remember that one he returned against the Bears in the divisional playoff game that they won against the Bears 21-17 in January of 1988 (their second strike year SB victory)?

Green had an injured hammy if I recall correctly, but still took it all the way back for a TD. Dude was amazing. Here it is below:

Darrell Green - 1987 NFC Divisional Playoffs - ( New Window )
Nose Tackle  
hazydavey : 7/12/2013 1:54 pm : link
No clear cut choice for greatest Nose tackle of all time.

And the difficulty of lists like these is that players are punished for their versatility. Hampton and Wilfork are good choices but Haloti Ngata might deserve consideration too - except that he plays all over line.

Here's a guy from the past that I'd consider: Fred Smerlas.
When I picture a nose tackle, I picture Ted Washington.  
Big Blue Blogger : 7/12/2013 2:06 pm : link
Nothing pretty about him, but there's nothing pretty about that position. And he played forever. You could even call him a late bloomer: His productivity in Buffalo was mind-blowing.

WRT Randy White, if the Giants had held onto the second pick in the 1975 draft, they probably would have taken Mack Mitchell. It was that kind of decade.
Yeah, I remember Washington well.  
Big Blue '56 : 7/12/2013 6:34 pm : link
I always wanted a guy like him, but he was really only a 1-gapper as opposed to Hampton who mans both
'56, interesting question and nice list.  
yatqb : 7/12/2013 7:09 pm : link
I'd go with many of the same:

DT: Lilly, Joe Greene

DEs: Deacon Jones and Reggie White

NT: Damned if I know...I guess I like Ngata a lot

LBs: LT, Butkus, Willie Lanier, Ted Hendricks

CBs: Deion (I hate to pick him, would love to put Mike Haynes in here, but Deion deserves it) and Willie Brown

S: Ronnie Lott and Ed Reed
Curly Culp  
PEEJ : 7/12/2013 7:35 pm : link
played on the nose in KC's "stacked defense"
Funny, everyone has great lists  
Some Fan : 7/12/2013 8:39 pm : link
it is just that each position may have one or two other guys just as deserving, except OLB of course.
I saw Culp many years ago.  
Big Blue '56 : 7/12/2013 8:40 pm : link
He drove a cab when I saw him. He was nice enough to autograph his business card. No, I didn't recognize him per se, but his name in the cab gave it away..A terrific NT
DT  
tomhagen : 7/12/2013 9:30 pm : link
Alex Karras has got to be considered. Jerry Kramer called him the toughest guy to block he ever played at any level.
Deion  
tomhagen : 7/12/2013 9:32 pm : link
was not nearly physical enough to be considered at CB. Woodson was just as good in coverage and hit like a safety. Then there's woodson....Adderly.... Tunnell...Bailey.... Deion was a great weapon all around, but at CB, not in my top 10.
Darrell Green might not deserve to be on that list...  
arcarsenal : 7/12/2013 9:33 pm : link
But he was probably the fastest dude I've ever seen on a football field.

James Jett is the only guy I can recall seeing that was in the same stratosphere.
Tom,  
Big Blue '56 : 7/13/2013 7:22 am : link
Karras was special. He and Roger Brown were virtually unstoppable
HERE IS A PLAYER  
OldPolack : 7/13/2013 11:08 pm : link
GINO MARCHETTI Class of 1972 Defensive End >>> 6-4, 244 (San Francisco) 1952 Dallas Texans, 1953-1964, 1966 Baltimore Colts Gino John Marchetti. . .Named top defensive end of NFL's first 50 years. . . New York Yanks' No. 2 draftee, 1952 - franchise moved to Dallas for Gino's rookie season. . . Selected for then-record 11 straight Pro Bowls but missed one game because of injury suffered in 1958 NFL overtime title game. . .All-NFL nine years, 1956-1964. . .All-around great defender, best known for vicious pass rushing. . .Born January 2, 1927, in Smithers, West Virginia - See more at: http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PLAYER_ID=141#sthash.ysVfDqsM.dpuf
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