American football is an intensely physical sport. The defenders aggressively approach the offense and try to stop them from scoring. One needs to be physically well-built to be a good football player.

Being the best in the NFL is a difficult feat to achieve. It is more difficult to be the defender, especially when you are playing in the outside linebacker position. Again, there are players who were masters in it.

This article features the ten best outside linebackers of all time in NFL history.

Best Outside Linebackers of All Time

Outside linebackers cover the defensive ends to make sure that a run does not escape. They are also responsible for watching the pass and protecting from it. Outside blockers perform various things in the field. However, while making this list, players who were great in sacks, interceptions, and tackles were given priority.

Here are our ten best outside linebackers of all time:

  • Bobby Bell (1963-1974)
  • Jack Hamm (1971-1982)
  • Junior Seau (1990-2009)
  • Derrick Brooks (1995-2009)
  • Ted Hendricks (1969-1983)
  • Robert Brazile (1975-1984)
  • Chuck Bednarik (1949-1962)
  • Dave Wilcox (1964-1974)
  • Dave Robinson (1963-1974)
  • Chuck Howley (1958-1973)
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1. Bobby Bell

Bobby Bell
Full NameBobby Lee Bell Sr.
Date of BirthJune 17, 1940
Place of BirthShelby, North Carolina
Height6 ft 4 in
Weight228 lb
NFL Draft1963 (Kansas City Chiefs, Round 2, Pick: 16)
TeamsKansas City Chiefs

Career Highlights:

Super Bowl Champion: 1-time (1970)

First-Team All-Pro: 1 time (1970)

Pro Bowl: 3 times (1970, 71, 72)

NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team

Defensive Player of the Year: 1-time (1969)

Bobby Bell was a highly skilled player who could play in any position. He had the physical structure and strength along with quickness to be the perfect outside linebacker. He could do blitz and cover, along with tackles.

 In his decade-long career, Bell had played 168 games and had 40 sacks along with 26 interceptions and 8 touchdowns. He did everything a linebacker can do on the field. He won the super bowl in 1970 and was a three times pro bowler.

Bell was one of the finest players of his time. He was an unmatched talent. In 1969, he has announced the best defensive player of the year. It was difficult to be the best defender playing as a linebacker, but Bell did it.

Despite being nearly 230 pounds, Bell set the record for running a 4.5 40-yard dash. Bell had an incredible combination of intelligence and athleticism. Bell made a place for himself among the 100 NFL 100 greats list, and he is certainly one of the best outside linebackers of all time.

Career stats of Bobby Bell:


2. Jack Ham

Jack Ham
Full NameJack Raphael Ham Jr.
Date of BirthDecember 23, 1948
Place of BirthJohnstown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Height6 ft 1 in
Weight225 lb
NFL Draft1971 (Pittsburgh Steelers, Round 2, Pick: 34)
TeamsPittsburgh Steelers

Career Highlights:

Super Bowl Champion: 4 times (IX, X, XIII, XIV)

First-Team All-Pro: 6 times (1974–1979)

Pro Bowl: 8 times (1973–1980)

The eight-time pro bowler, with his four Super Bowl championships, is one of the most successful players on this list. He was drafted into the NFL in 1971 and soon became a star player. He was a left-backer and arguably the most sustainable defense.

He was the best in coverage and also good at blitz. He had defended 91 passes, along with 25.5 sacks and 32 interceptions. He played a crucial role in the Steelers’ four super bowl wins.

Career stats of Jack Ham:

GamesAVSacksInterceptionsTouchdownsPass Deflections

3. Junior Seau

Junior Seau
Full NameTiaina Baul “Junior” Seau Jr.
Date of BirthJanuary 19, 1969
Place of BirthOceanside, California, U.S.
Height6 ft 3 in
Weight250 lb
NFL Draft1990 (San Diego Chargers,  Round 1,  Pick: 5)
TeamsSan Diego Chargers, New England Patriots, and Miami Dolphins

Career Highlights:

Pro Bowl: 12 times (1991–2002)

First-Team All-Pro: 6 times ((1992–1994, 96, 98, 2000)

NFL Man of the Year: 1 time (1994)

Junior Seau had played in several positions in his career, including middle backer, undershirt, and also linebacker. He had a long career in the NFL and player 268 games. He came into the limelight immediately after his debut with the San Diego Chargers.

Seau is a twelve-time pro bowler from 1991-2002, never missing a year in the middle. He is also six times all-pro. He was awarded the NFL man of the year award in 1994. Seau was good at everything from tackles to sacks and interceptions. With so many skills, he deserves to be on the list.

Career stats of Junior Seau:

GamesAVTacklesSacksInterceptionsTouchdownsForced Fumbles

4. Derrick Brooks

Derrick Brooks
Full NameDerrick Dewan Brooks
Date of BirthApril 18, 1973
Place of BirthPensacola, Florida, U.S.
Height6 ft 0 in
Weight235 lb
NFL Draft1995 (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Round 1, Pick: 28)
TeamsTampa Bay Buccaneers

Career Highlights:

Super Bowl Champion: 1 time (XXXVII)

First-team All-Pro: 5 times ( (1999, 2000, 02, 04, 05)

Pro Bowl: 11 times (1997–2006, 2008)

You can clearly see that his accolades are full of achievements. He had his NFL debut in 1995 and, since then, dominated the game. Brooks had an average of 122 tackles per year and 22 picks. He finished his career with more than seventeen hundred tackles on his name.

Brooks ranks no.100 in the NFL all-time 100 great players list. Brooks is a legend for the Buccaneers. Not just that he play well for the team, but he helped the team transform. Before Brooks’s inclusion in the team, Buccaneers had lost ten or more gamers for twelve seasons.

Brook played a key role in the turnaround of the Buccaneers. Soon the Buccaneers became one of the top teams in the league and would frequently end up in the top 10s. And finally, in 2003, he led the Buccaneers to its first-ever super bowl championship win.

He was not only a good player but a good influencer who could motivate his teammates to give their best. With his contribution to the dramatic turnaround of the Buccaneers, he stands amongst the best defensive outside linebackers of all time.

Career stats of Derrick Brooks:

GamesAVTacklesSacksInterceptionsTouchdownsForced Fumbles

5. Ted Hendrick

Ted Hendrick
Full NameTheodore Paul Hendricks
Date of BirthNovember 1, 1947
Place of BirthGuatemala City, Guatemala
Height6 ft 7 in
Weight220 lb
NFL Draft1969 (Baltimore Colts, Round 2, Pick: 33)
TeamsBaltimore Colts, Green Bay Packers, and Los Angeles Raiders)

Career Highlights:

Super Bowl Champion: 4 times (V, XI, XV, XVIII)

Pro Bowl: 8 times  (1971–1974, 1980–1983)

First-team All-Pro: 4 times (1971, 74, 1980, 82)

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Hendricks began his career in the NFL as a defensive end in 1969 with the Colts but soon moved up to the outside linebacker position, where he showed some excellent defense in the next two seasons, which made him in the position.

Throughout the seventies, he was one of the top defenders in the league. Compared to his height, he was thin, which allowed him to run faster. But he was strong and a devastating tackler whose specialty was blocking punts. With two super bowl rings in the 70s and two in the 80s, he was included in both 70s and 80s all-decades teams.

Career stats of  Ted Hendrick:

GamesAVSacksInterceptionsFumble Recoveries

6. Robert Brazile

Robert Brazile
Full NameRobert Lorenzo Brazile Jr.
Date of BirthFebruary 7, 1953
Place of BirthMobile, Alabama, U.S.
NFL Draft1975 (Houston Oilers, Round 1, Pick: 6)
TeamsHouston Oilers

Career Highlights:

NFL Champion: 1 time (1975)

Pro Bowl: 7 times  (1976–1982)

First-team All-Pro:  2 times  (1978–1979)

The seven-time pro bowler Robert Brazile also has an NFL ring for winning the championship in 1975. Besides being a top-class defender, he was a great rusher on the field. In the late eighties, he made twice the first-team all-pro.

Brazile was drafted into the NFL in 1975, where he was the sixth pick in the first round. The same year he contributed greatly to Houston’s NFL title victory. With more than twelve hundred tackles and 48 sacks, he stands as one of the best outside linebackers of all time.

Career stats of Robert Brazile:


7. Chuck Bednarik

Chuck Bednarik
Full NameCharles Philip Bednarik
Date of BirthMay 1, 1925
Place of BirthBethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Weight233 lb
NFL Draft1949 (Philadelphia Eagles, Round 1, Pick: 1)
TeamsPhiladelphia Eagles
DeathMarch 21, 2015

Career Highlights:

NFL Champion: 2 times (1949, 1960)

First-team All-Pro: 10 times (1950–1957, 1960, 61)

Pro Bowl: 8 times (1950–1954, 56, 57, 1960)

NFL 50th, 75th and 100th Anniversary All-Time Team

Because of his defensive skills, he was also called “Concrete Charlie,” as he was like a wall in defense. Bednarik was a complete package of defense; he played as a defensive center, as well as in all three linebackers’ positions. However, he excelled as an outside linebacker.

Bednarik had an incredible year in his college career that earned him a good reputation. He was on everyone’s wishlist. Bednarik was the first pick in the draft of 1949 and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles.

In his first year with the Eagles, he lived up to expectations and contributed to the team’s NFL championship winning. In his 13-year-long career, he became an eight-times pro bowler and ten-times all-pro. It was impossible not to notice him in the field.

In his 169 game appearances, he made 20 interceptions. Bednarik was a part of the NFL’s 50th, 75th, and 100th-anniversary all-team.

Career stats of Chuck Bednarik:


8. Dave Wilcox

Dave Wilcox
Full NameDavid Wilcox
Date of BirthSeptember 29, 1942
Place of BirthOntario, Oregon
Height6 ft 3 in
Weight241 lb
NFL Draft1964 (San Francisco 49ers, Round 3, Pick: 29)
TeamsSan Francisco 49ers

Career Highlights:

Pro Bowl: 7 times (1966, 1968–1973)

First-team All-Pro: 2 times  (1971, 1972)

After being drafted to the San Francisco 49ers in 1964, he played for 11 seasons for the 49ers. He is considered one the most skilled player to play as a linebacker. He had impressive natural strength with a huge upper body and massive triceps.

He was a seven-time pro bowler and two-time all-pro. The 49ers used to rate each player after the end of a season. While a satisfactory rating for a linebacker was 750, Willcox scored 1306 in 1973. Willcox was aware of his fitness and dedicated to the sport too. He missed only one game in his career, and that, too, was due to an injury.

Career stats of Dave Wilcox:


9. Dave Robinson

Dave Robinson
Full NameRichard David Robinson
Date of BirthMay 3, 1941
Place of BirthMount Holly, New Jersey
Height6 ft 3 in
Weight245 lb
NFL Draft1963 (Green Bay Packers, Round 3, Pick: 14)
Teams Green Bay Packers and Washington Commanders

Career Highlights:

NFL Champion: 3 times (1965–1967)

Super Bowl champion: 2 times (I, II)

First-team All-Pro: 1 time (1967)

Pro Bowl: 3 times  (1966, 67, 69)

Robinson is one of the most accomplished linebackers with three consecutive NFL championship victories, two consecutive super bowls, and a three-time pro bowler. He achieved a lot.

Dave Robinson was already a popular name even before joining NFL. His performance in 1961 led the Nittany Lions to a victory in the Gator Bowl following. 2 years later, he was drafted by the Green Bay Packers.

Robinson retired in 1974 after establishing his legacy among the best outside linebackers of all time. He was instated into the  Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

Career stats of Dave Robinson:


10. Chuck Howley

Chuck Howley
Full NameCharles Louis Howley
Date of BirthJune 28, 1936
Place of BirthWheeling, West Virginia
Height6 ft 3 in
Weight228 lb
NFL Draft1958 (Chicago Bears, Round 1, Pick: 7)
TeamsChicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys

Career Highlights:

Super Bowl Champion: 1 time (VI)

Super Bowl MVP: 1 time (V)

First-team All-Pro: 5 times  (1966–1970)

Pro Bowl: 6 times (1965–1969, 1971)

A six-time pro bowler with an MVP, five all-pros, and one super bow ring! Surprisingly, with so much in his accolades, he is yet to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Howley was born in West Virginia in 1936 and drafted into the NFL in 1958. However, due to a car accident, he was out of action for a year. After his recovery, he joined the Dallas Cowboys. He played a total of 15 seasons and had 26 sacks, along with 18 fumbles recovery, 25 interceptions, and two touchdowns. It’s a matter of time before he is in the Hall of Fame. Still, he is regarded amongst the best outside linebackers of all time.

Career stats of Chuck Howley:

GamesAVSacksInterceptionsTouchdownsFumbles Recovered


Outside linebackers are versatile players who have different roles to play, like stopping the run from saving the team from getting behind. Their role in the defensive is one of the most important ones, and a team needs to have a skilled outside linebacker for success.

These players in the list are the prototype of outside linebackers. They displayed great skill and athleticism and became the best outside linebackers of all time.

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A.H. Mostofa Zaman is the chief editor of The News Titan. He is a professional journalist who focuses on reporting on the American Football news from the world of entertainment. He is determined in his quest to provide you with the most recent information and coverage available from all across the world.


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